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Some bugs in Rack may cause cookies to be silently dropped—or worse, truncated, leading to token leakage (i.e. transmission of a private session over a insecure connection), cross-site scripting vulnerabilities, and/or cross-site request forgery vulnerabilities. This gem provides a middleware that tries to prevent these scenarios from occurring.


  1. Most modern browsers no longer have a per-domain cookie size limit, so if you only care about modern browsers, go ahead and set :per_domain? to false. You'll benefit from the per-domain cookie limit and per-cookie bytesize limit (since most browsers still have some form of these limits, and Rack's built-in check for them is nonexistent in the former case and not implemented correctly in the latter).

  2. Browsers that do have per-domain cookie limits enforce these limits client-side, cumulatively over time. If you were to set a new cookie, every few minutes, one at a time, eventually you'd hit a limit. Or another service could be setting cookies for the domain your service listens on. If this is a concern for your app, see the :stateful? option below.

    In practice, your service is most likely setting the same cookies, for the same domains, every response, all in the same response, and it knows about all the cookies being set, so the default behavior of this gem should be appropriate in those cases.


Add this line to your app's Gemfile:

gem 'rack-protection-maximum_cookie'

And then execute:

$ bundle

Or install it yourself as:

$ gem install rack-protection-maximum_cookie


Add this statement to your Rackup script or middleware-capable Rack app such as Sinatra:

use Rack::Protection::MaximumCookie

Or Rails:

TODO: Somebody please tell me how to insert this and before or after what in Rails' middleware stack.

This middleware raises exceptions, so you'll want to use an error-reporting service like Sentry, Rollbar, or Airbrake, and insert this middleware after it.


Rack::Protection::MaximumCookie accepts the following use-time options:

  • :limit Integer

    Maximum number of cookies per domain. 50 cookies by default. Set to a negative number to disable.

  • :bytesize_limit Integer

    Maximum size—in bytes—of cookies per domain (if :per_domain? is set to true), or the maximum size of each cookie (if :per_domain? is set to false). 4,096 bytes by default. Set to a negative number to disable.

  • :overhead Integer

    Overhead—in bytes—per cookie. Three (3) bytes by default. Set to zero to disable.

  • :per_domain? Boolean

    If true, apply the bytesize limit (e.g. 4,096 bytes—minus any per-cookie overhead) per domain. This is the default behavior.

    If false, apply the bytesize limit (e.g. 4,096 bytes—minus any overhead) per cookie.

  • :strict? Boolean

    If false, each sub-domain gets its own quota, separate from its second-level domain. This is the default behavior.

    If true, :per_domain? is forced to true, and each second-level domain's cookies count towards its sub-domains' quotas. For example, if you have cookies for totaling 4,000 bytes, you wouldn't be able to set an additional 100-byte cookie on in the same request.

  • :stateful? Boolean

    If false, the cookies are evaluated for each response in isolation, i.e. statelessly. This is the default behavior.

    If true, :strict? is forced to true, and Rack::Protection::MaximumCookie will attempt to compensate for cookies that were set for the domain in previous responses (by this or other web services) but are not present in the current response.

    This mechanism has its limits. First of all, browsers don't send cookie directives in request headers—only key=value pairs—so in order to compute the actual size of these cookies, Rack::Protection::MaximumCookie must estimate the upper bound of the bytesize of the directives in the original Set-Cookie headers. This should work reasonably well as long as your app doesn't rely on any non-standard directives or other quirky browser behavior.

    Secondly, browsers won't send cookies if their paths don't match the request path. This means that if you're setting two cookies, one for and one for, requests to either path won't include the other's cookie. That defeats this mechanism, as both cookies count toward's quota, but they aren't able to be properly accounted for in the request. The only "workaround" is to architect your app such that all cookies are set under a path common to all routes. Unfortunately, this may lead to other security issues.

    This is an ugly wart on HTTP and the reason why modern browsers don't have per-domain cookie size limits and drop cookies instead of truncating them.

Block Argument

If you don't want to raise exceptions, only want to raise exceptions under certain conditions, or want to customize the exception, you can modify the behavior by passing a block to the middleware initializer:

use Rack::Protection::MaximumCookie do |env|
  raise MyCustomError, 'Someone broke the cookie jar!' if env['']

If the block returns a truthy value, the default exception will be raised:

use(Rack::Protection::MaximumCookie) { |env| env[''] }

Keep in mind that the block receives the mutated response env.

I'm interested in hearing use-cases for this feature and I'm open to passing additional arguments to the block. Open a new issue to document and discuss.


After checking out the repo, run bin/setup to install dependencies. Then, run rake spec to run the tests. You can also run bin/console for an interactive prompt that will allow you to experiment.

To install this gem onto your local machine, run bundle exec rake install. To release a new version, update the version number in version.rb, and then run bundle exec rake release, which will create a git tag for the version, push git commits and tags, and push the .gem file to


Bug reports and pull requests are welcome on GitHub at

Please let me know if I've made any invalid assumptions or conclusions about the HTTP specification or older browser behavior.


The gem is available as open source under the terms of the MIT License.