Every time a user posts something containing < or > in a page in my web application, I get this exception thrown.

I don't want to go into the discussion about the smartness of throwing an exception or crashing an entire web application because somebody entered a character in a text box, but I am looking for an elegant way to handle this.

Trapping the exception and showing

An error has occurred please go back and re-type your entire form again, but this time please do not use <

doesn't seem professional enough to me.

Disabling post validation (validateRequest="false") will definitely avoid this error, but it will leave the page vulnerable to a number of attacks.

Ideally: When a post back occurs containing HTML restricted characters, that posted value in the Form collection will be automatically HTML encoded. So the .Text property of my text-box will be something & lt; html & gt;

Is there a way I can do this from a handler?

Solution 1

I think you are attacking it from the wrong angle by trying to encode all posted data.

Note that a "<" could also come from other outside sources, like a database field, a configuration, a file, a feed and so on.

Furthermore, "<" is not inherently dangerous. It's only dangerous in a specific context: when writing strings that haven't been encoded to HTML output (because of XSS).

In other contexts different sub-strings are dangerous, for example, if you write an user-provided URL into a link, the sub-string "javascript:" may be dangerous. The single quote character on the other hand is dangerous when interpolating strings in SQL queries, but perfectly safe if it is a part of a name submitted from a form or read from a database field.

The bottom line is: you can't filter random input for dangerous characters, because any character may be dangerous under the right circumstances. You should encode at the point where some specific characters may become dangerous because they cross into a different sub-language where they have special meaning. When you write a string to HTML, you should encode characters that have special meaning in HTML, using Server.HtmlEncode. If you pass a string to a dynamic SQL statement, you should encode different characters (or better, let the framework do it for you by using prepared statements or the like)..

When you are sure you HTML-encode everywhere you pass strings to HTML, then set ValidateRequest="false" in the <%@ Page ... %> directive in your .aspx file(s).

In .NET 4 you may need to do a little more. Sometimes it's necessary to also add <httpRuntime requestValidationMode="2.0" /> to web.config (reference).

Solution 2

There's a different solution to this error if you're using ASP.NET MVC:

C# sample:

[HttpPost, ValidateInput(false)]
public ActionResult Edit(FormCollection collection)
    // ...

Visual Basic sample:

<AcceptVerbs(HttpVerbs.Post), ValidateInput(False)> _
Function Edit(ByVal collection As FormCollection) As ActionResult
End Function

Solution 3

In ASP.NET MVC (starting in version 3), you can add the AllowHtml attribute to a property on your model.

It allows a request to include HTML markup during model binding by skipping request validation for the property.

public string Description { get; set; }

Solution 4

If you are on .NET 4.0 make sure you add this in your web.config file inside the <system.web> tags:

<httpRuntime requestValidationMode="2.0" />

In .NET 2.0, request validation only applied to aspx requests. In .NET 4.0 this was expanded to include all requests. You can revert to only performing XSS validation when processing .aspx by specifying:


You can disable request validate entirely by specifying:


Solution 5

For ASP.NET 4.0, you can allow markup as input for specific pages instead of the whole site by putting it all in a <location> element. This will make sure all your other pages are safe. You do NOT need to put ValidateRequest="false" in your .aspx page.

  <location path="MyFolder/.aspx">
      <pages validateRequest="false" />
      <httpRuntime requestValidationMode="2.0" />

It is safer to control this inside your web.config, because you can see at a site level which pages allow markup as input.

You still need to programmatically validate input on pages where request validation is disabled.

Solution 6

The previous answers are great, but nobody said how to exclude a single field from being validated for HTML/JavaScript injections. I don't know about previous versions, but in MVC3 Beta you can do this:

[HttpPost, ValidateInput(true, Exclude = "YourFieldName")]
public virtual ActionResult Edit(int id, FormCollection collection)

This still validates all the fields except for the excluded one. The nice thing about this is that your validation attributes still validate the field, but you just don't get the "A potentially dangerous Request.Form value was detected from the client" exceptions.

I've used this for validating a regular expression. I've made my own ValidationAttribute to see if the regular expression is valid or not. As regular expressions can contain something that looks like a script I applied the above code - the regular expression is still being checked if it's valid or not, but not if it contains scripts or HTML.

Solution 7

In ASP.NET MVC you need to set requestValidationMode="2.0" and validateRequest="false" in web.config, and apply a ValidateInput attribute to your controller action:

<httpRuntime requestValidationMode="2.0"/>

        <pages validateRequest="false" />


[Post, ValidateInput(false)]
public ActionResult Edit(string message) {

Solution 8

You can HTML encode text box content, but unfortunately that won't stop the exception from happening. In my experience there is no way around, and you have to disable page validation. By doing that you're saying: "I'll be careful, I promise."

Solution 9

The answer to this question is simple:

var varname = Request.Unvalidated["parameter_name"];

This would disable validation for the particular request.

Solution 10

You can catch that error in Global.asax. I still want to validate, but show an appropriate message. On the blog listed below, a sample like this was available.

    void Application_Error(object sender, EventArgs e)
        Exception ex = Server.GetLastError();

        if (ex is HttpRequestValidationException)
            Response.StatusCode = 200;

Redirecting to another page also seems like a reasonable response to the exception.

Solution 11

For MVC, ignore input validation by adding


above each Action in the Controller.

Solution 12

Please bear in mind that some .NET controls will automatically HTML encode the output. For instance, setting the .Text property on a TextBox control will automatically encode it. That specifically means converting < into &lt;, > into &gt; and & into &amp;. So be wary of doing this...

myTextBox.Text = Server.HtmlEncode(myStringFromDatabase); // Pseudo code

However, the .Text property for HyperLink, Literal and Label won't HTML encode things, so wrapping Server.HtmlEncode(); around anything being set on these properties is a must if you want to prevent <script> window.location = ""; </script> from being output into your page and subsequently executed.

Do a little experimenting to see what gets encoded and what doesn't.

Solution 13

In the web.config file, within the tags, insert the httpRuntime element with the attribute requestValidationMode="2.0". Also add the validateRequest="false" attribute in the pages element.


   <httpRuntime requestValidationMode="2.0" />
  <pages validateRequest="false">

Solution 14

If you don't want to disable ValidateRequest you need to implement a JavaScript function in order to avoid the exception. It is not the best option, but it works.

function AlphanumericValidation(evt)
    var charCode = (evt.charCode) ? evt.charCode : ((evt.keyCode) ? evt.keyCode :
        ((evt.which) ? evt.which : 0));

    // User type Enter key
    if (charCode == 13)
        // Do something, set controls focus or do anything
        return false;

    // User can not type non alphanumeric characters
    if ( (charCode <  48)                     ||
         (charCode > 122)                     ||
         ((charCode > 57) && (charCode < 65)) ||
         ((charCode > 90) && (charCode < 97))
        // Show a message or do something
        return false;

Then in code behind, on the PageLoad event, add the attribute to your control with the next code:

Me.TextBox1.Attributes.Add("OnKeyPress", "return AlphanumericValidation(event);")

Solution 15

Another solution is:

protected void Application_Start()
    RequestValidator.Current = new MyRequestValidator();

public class MyRequestValidator: RequestValidator
    protected override bool IsValidRequestString(HttpContext context, string value, RequestValidationSource requestValidationSource, string collectionKey, out int validationFailureIndex)
        bool result = base.IsValidRequestString(context, value, requestValidationSource, collectionKey, out validationFailureIndex);

        if (!result)
            // Write your validation here
            if (requestValidationSource == RequestValidationSource.Form ||
                requestValidationSource == RequestValidationSource.QueryString)

                return true; // Suppress error message
        return result;

Solution 16

It seems no one has mentioned the below yet, but it fixes the issue for me. And before anyone says yeah it's Visual Basic... yuck.

<%@ Page Language="vb" AutoEventWireup="false" CodeBehind="Example.aspx.vb" Inherits="Example.Example" **ValidateRequest="false"** %>

I don't know if there are any downsides, but for me this worked amazing.

Solution 17

If you're using framework 4.0 then the entry in the web.config (<pages validateRequest="false" />)

        <pages validateRequest="false" />

If you're using framework 4.5 then the entry in the web.config (requestValidationMode="2.0")

    <compilation debug="true" targetFramework="4.5" />
    <httpRuntime targetFramework="4.5" requestValidationMode="2.0"/>

If you want for only single page then, In you aspx file you should put the first line as this :

<%@ Page EnableEventValidation="false" %>

if you already have something like <%@ Page so just add the rest => EnableEventValidation="false" %>

I recommend not to do it.

Solution 18

In ASP.NET, you can catch the exception and do something about it, such as displaying a friendly message or redirect to another page... Also there is a possibility that you can handle the validation by yourself...

Display friendly message:

protected override void OnError(EventArgs e)
    var ex = Server.GetLastError().GetBaseException();
    if (ex is System.Web.HttpRequestValidationException)
        Response.Write("Invalid characters."); //  Response.Write(HttpUtility.HtmlEncode(ex.Message));
        Response.StatusCode = 200;

Solution 19

I guess you could do it in a module; but that leaves open some questions; what if you want to save the input to a database? Suddenly because you're saving encoded data to the database you end up trusting input from it which is probably a bad idea. Ideally you store raw unencoded data in the database and the encode every time.

Disabling the protection on a per page level and then encoding each time is a better option.

Rather than using Server.HtmlEncode you should look at the newer, more complete Anti-XSS library from the Microsoft ACE team.

Solution 20

I found a solution that uses JavaScript to encode the data, which is decoded in .NET (and doesn't require jQuery).

  • Make the textbox an HTML element (like textarea) instead of an ASP one.
  • Add a hidden field.
  • Add the following JavaScript function to your header.

    function boo() { targetText = document.getElementById("HiddenField1"); sourceText = document.getElementById("userbox"); targetText.value = escape(sourceText.innerText); }

In your textarea, include an onchange that calls boo():

<textarea id="userbox"  onchange="boo();"></textarea>

Finally, in .NET, use

string val = Server.UrlDecode(HiddenField1.Value);

I am aware that this is one-way - if you need two-way you'll have to get creative, but this provides a solution if you cannot edit the web.config

Here's an example I (MC9000) came up with and use via jQuery:

$(document).ready(function () {

    $("#txtHTML").change(function () {
        var currentText = $("#txtHTML").text();
        currentText = escape(currentText); // Escapes the HTML including quotations, etc
        $("#hidHTML").val(currentText); // Set the hidden field

    // Intercept the postback
    $("#btnMyPostbackButton").click(function () {
        $("#txtHTML").val(""); // Clear the textarea before POSTing
                               // If you don't clear it, it will give you
                               // the error due to the HTML in the textarea.
        return true; // Post back


And the markup:

<asp:HiddenField ID="hidHTML" runat="server" />
<textarea id="txtHTML"></textarea>
<asp:Button ID="btnMyPostbackButton" runat="server" Text="Post Form" />

This works great. If a hacker tries to post via bypassing JavaScript, they they will just see the error. You can save all this data encoded in a database as well, then unescape it (on the server side), and parse & check for attacks before displaying elsewhere.

Solution 21


ASP.NET by default validates all input controls for potentially unsafe contents that can lead to cross-site scripting (XSS) and SQL injections. Thus it disallows such content by throwing the above exception. By default it is recommended to allow this check to happen on each postback.


On many occasions you need to submit HTML content to your page through Rich TextBoxes or Rich Text Editors. In that case you can avoid this exception by setting the ValidateRequest tag in the @Page directive to false.

<%@ Page Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" ValidateRequest = "false" %>

This will disable the validation of requests for the page you have set the ValidateRequest flag to false. If you want to disable this, check throughout your web application; youll need to set it to false in your web.config <system.web> section

<pages validateRequest ="false" />

For .NET 4.0 or higher frameworks you will need to also add the following line in the <system.web> section to make the above work.

<httpRuntime requestValidationMode = "2.0" />

Thats it. I hope this helps you in getting rid of the above issue.

Reference by: ASP.Net Error: A potentially dangerous Request.Form value was detected from the client

Solution 22

The other solutions here are nice, however it's a bit of a royal pain in the rear to have to apply [AllowHtml] to every single Model property, especially if you have over 100 models on a decent sized site.

If like me, you want to turn this (IMHO pretty pointless) feature off site wide you can override the Execute() method in your base controller (if you don't already have a base controller I suggest you make one, they can be pretty useful for applying common functionality).

    protected override void Execute(RequestContext requestContext)
        // Disable requestion validation (security) across the whole site
        ValidateRequest = false;

Just make sure that you are HTML encoding everything that is pumped out to the views that came from user input (it's default behaviour in ASP.NET MVC 3 with Razor anyway, so unless for some bizarre reason you are using Html.Raw() you shouldn't require this feature.

Solution 23

I was getting this error too.

In my case, a user entered an accented character á in a Role Name (regarding the ASP.NET membership provider).

I pass the role name to a method to grant Users to that role and the $.ajax post request was failing miserably...

I did this to solve the problem:

Instead of

data: { roleName: '@Model.RoleName', users: users }

Do this

data: { roleName: '@Html.Raw(@Model.RoleName)', users: users }

@Html.Raw did the trick.

I was getting the Role name as HTML value roleName="Cadastro b&#225;s". This value with HTML entity &#225; was being blocked by ASP.NET MVC. Now I get the roleName parameter value the way it should be: roleName="Cadastro Básico" and ASP.NET MVC engine won't block the request anymore.

Solution 24

Disable the page validation if you really need the special characters like, >, , <, etc. Then ensure that when the user input is displayed, the data is HTML-encoded.

There is a security vulnerability with the page validation, so it can be bypassed. Also the page validation shouldn't be solely relied on.


Solution 25

You could also use JavaScript's escape(string) function to replace the special characters. Then server side use Server.URLDecode(string) to switch it back.

This way you don't have to turn off input validation and it will be more clear to other programmers that the string may have HTML content.

Solution 26

I ended up using JavaScript before each postback to check for the characters you didn't want, such as:

<asp:Button runat="server" ID="saveButton" Text="Save" CssClass="saveButton" OnClientClick="return checkFields()" />

function checkFields() {
    var tbs = new Array();
    tbs = document.getElementsByTagName("input");
    var isValid = true;
    for (i=0; i<tbs.length; i++) {
        if (tbs(i).type == 'text') {
            if (tbs(i).value.indexOf('<') != -1 || tbs(i).value.indexOf('>') != -1) {
                alert('<> symbols not allowed.');
                isValid = false;
    return isValid;

Granted my page is mostly data entry, and there are very few elements that do postbacks, but at least their data is retained.

Solution 27

You can use something like:

var nvc = Request.Unvalidated().Form;

Later, nvc["yourKey"] should work.

Solution 28

For those who are not using model binding, who are extracting each parameter from the Request.Form, who are sure the input text will cause no harm, there is another way. Not a great solution but it will do the job.

From client side, encode it as uri then send it.


From server side, accept it and decode it as uri.

string temp = !string.IsNullOrEmpty(HttpContext.Current.Request.Form["MsgBody"]) ?
System.Web.HttpUtility.UrlDecode(HttpContext.Current.Request.Form["MsgBody"]) : 


string temp = !string.IsNullOrEmpty(HttpContext.Current.Request.Form["MsgBody"]) ?
System.Uri.UnescapeDataString(HttpContext.Current.Request.Form["MsgBody"]) : 

please look for the differences between UrlDecode and UnescapeDataString

Solution 29

As long as these are only "<" and ">" (and not the double quote itself) characters and you're using them in context like <input value="this" />, you're safe (while for <textarea>this one</textarea> you would be vulnerable of course). That may simplify your situation, but for anything more use one of other posted solutions.

Solution 30

If you're just looking to tell your users that < and > are not to be used BUT, you don't want the entire form processed/posted back (and lose all the input) before-hand could you not simply put in a validator around the field to screen for those (and maybe other potentially dangerous) characters?