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Permitted and required parameters for Action Pack


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Strong Parameters

With this plugin Action Controller parameters are forbidden to be used in Active Model mass assignments until they have been whitelisted. This means you'll have to make a conscious choice about which attributes to allow for mass updating and thus prevent accidentally exposing that which shouldn't be exposed.

In addition, parameters can be marked as required and flow through a predefined raise/rescue flow to end up as a 400 Bad Request with no effort.

class PeopleController < ActionController::Base
  # This will raise an ActiveModel::ForbiddenAttributes exception because it's using mass assignment
  # without an explicit permit step.
  def create

  # This will pass with flying colors as long as there's a person key in the parameters, otherwise
  # it'll raise an ActionController::ParameterMissing exception, which will get caught by
  # ActionController::Base and turned into that 400 Bad Request reply.
  def update
    person = current_account.people.find(params[:id])
    redirect_to person

    # Using a private method to encapsulate the permissible parameters is just a good pattern
    # since you'll be able to reuse the same permit list between create and update. Also, you
    # can specialize this method with per-user checking of permissible attributes.
    def person_params
      params.require(:person).permit(:name, :age)

Permitted Scalar Values



the key :id will pass the whitelisting if it appears in params and it has a permitted scalar value associated. Otherwise the key is going to be filtered out, so arrays, hashes, or any other objects cannot be injected.

The permitted scalar types are String, Symbol, NilClass, Numeric, TrueClass, FalseClass, Date, Time, DateTime, StringIO, IO, ActionDispatch::Http::UploadedFile and Rack::Test::UploadedFile.

To declare that the value in params must be an array of permitted scalar values map the key to an empty array:

params.permit(:id => [])

To whitelist an entire hash of parameters, the permit! method can be used


This will mark the :log_entry parameters hash and any subhash of it permitted. Extreme care should be taken when using permit! as it will allow all current and future model attributes to be mass-assigned.

Nested Parameters

You can also use permit on nested parameters, like:

params.permit(:name, {:emails => []}, :friends => [ :name, { :family => [ :name ], :hobbies => [] }])

This declaration whitelists the name, emails and friends attributes. It is expected that emails will be an array of permitted scalar values and that friends will be an array of resources with specific attributes : they should have a name attribute (any permitted scalar values allowed), a hobbies attribute as an array of permitted scalar values, and a family attribute which is restricted to having a name (any permitted scalar values allowed, too).

Thanks to Nick Kallen for the permit idea!

Require Multiple Parameters

If you want to make sure that multiple keys are present in a params hash, you can call the method twice:


Handling of Unpermitted Keys

By default parameter keys that are not explicitly permitted will be logged in the development and test environment. In other environments these parameters will simply be filtered out and ignored.

Additionally, this behaviour can be changed by changing the config.action_controller.action_on_unpermitted_parameters property in your environment files. If set to :log the unpermitted attributes will be logged, if set to :raise an exception will be raised.

Use Outside of Controllers

While Strong Parameters will enforce permitted and required values in your application controllers, keep in mind that you will need to sanitize untrusted data used for mass assignment when in use outside of controllers.

For example, if you retrieve JSON data from a third party API call and pass the unchecked parsed result on to Model.create, undesired mass assignments could take place. You can alleviate this risk by slicing the hash data, or wrapping the data in a new instance of ActionController::Parameters and declaring permissions the same as you would in a controller. For example:

raw_parameters = { :email => "", :name => "John", :admin => true }
parameters =
user = User.create(parameters.permit(:name, :email))

More Examples

Head over to the Rails guide about Action Controller.


In Gemfile:

gem 'strong_parameters'

and then run bundle. To activate the strong parameters, you need to include this module in every model you want protected.

class Post < ActiveRecord::Base
  include ActiveModel::ForbiddenAttributesProtection

Alternatively, you can protect all Active Record resources by default by creating an initializer and pasting the line:

ActiveRecord::Base.send(:include, ActiveModel::ForbiddenAttributesProtection)

If you want to now disable the default whitelisting that occurs in Rails 3.2, change the config.active_record.whitelist_attributes property in your config/application.rb:

config.active_record.whitelist_attributes = false

This will allow you to remove / not have to use attr_accessible and do mass assignment inside your code and tests.

Migration Path to Rails 4

In order to have an idiomatic Rails 4 application, Rails 3 applications may use this gem to introduce strong parameters in preparation for their upgrade.

The following is a way to do that gradually:

1 Depend on strong_parameters

Add this gem to the application Gemfile:

gem 'strong_parameters'

and run bundle install.

After this change, the params object in requests is of type ActionController::Parameters. That is a subclass of ActiveSupport::HashWithIndifferentAccess and therefore everything should work as before. The test suite should be green, and the application can be deployed.

2 Compute a Topological Sort of Active Record Models

We are going to work model by model, and the natural order to do that systematically is topological. That is, if post has many comments, first you do Post, and later you do Comment.

Reason is that order plays well with nested attributes. You can mass-assign ActionController::Parameters to Post, and if that includes comments_attributes and the Comment model is not yet done, it will work. But if Comment is done first, then the mass-assigning to Post won't permit its attributes and won't work.

This script prints a topological sort of the Active Record models to standard output:

require 'tsort'
require 'set'

class Graph < Hash
  include TSort

  alias tsort_each_node each_key

  def tsort_each_child(node, &block)

def children(model) do |children|
    model.reflect_on_all_associations.each do |association|
      next unless [:has_many, :has_one].include?(association.macro)
      next if association.options[:through]

      children << association.klass

Dir.glob('app/models/**/*.rb') do |model|
  load model

graph =
ActiveRecord::Base.descendants.each do |model|
  graph[model] = children(model) unless model.abstract_class?

graph.tsort.reverse_each do |klass|

Execute it with rails runner.

3 Protect Every Active Record Model, One at a Time

Once the dependency is in place and the topological listing computed, you can work model by model. Do one model, deploy. Do another model, deploy. Etc.

For each model:

3.1 Add Protection

Remove any attr_accessible or attr_protected declarations and include ActiveModel::ForbiddenAttributesProtection:

class Post < ActiveRecord::Base
  include ActiveModel::ForbiddenAttributesProtection

3.2 (Optional) Check the Suite is Red

If the application performs any mass-assignment into that model, the test suite should not pass. Expect the test suite to raise ActiveModel::ForbiddenAttributes in those spots.

If the test suite is green, either it lacks coverage (fix it), or there is no mass-assignment going on (ready to deploy).

3.3 Whitelisting

Go to every controller whose actions trigger mass-assignment on that model via params and sanitize the input data using require and permit, as explained above.

3.4 Deploy

Once everything is whitelisted and the suite is green, this particular model can be pushed.

Ready to work on the next model.

4 Add Protection Globally

Once all models are done, remove their inclusion of the protecting module:

class Post < ActiveRecord::Base
  include ActiveModel::ForbiddenAttributesProtection

and add it globally in an initializer:

# config/initializers/strong_parameters.rb
ActiveRecord::Base.class_eval do
  include ActiveModel::ForbiddenAttributesProtection

5 Upgrade to Rails 4

To upgrade to Rails 4 just remove the previous initializer, everything else is ready as far as strong parameters is concerned.


This plugin is only fully compatible with Rails versions 3.0, 3.1 and 3.2 but not 4.0+, as it is part of Rails Core in 4.0. An unofficial Rails 2 version is strong_parameters_rails2.