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Provides a method to help protect your Ruby on Rails controllers from malicious or accidentally destructive user parameters

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Important Note

Soon after I created this project, @dhh (creator of Rails) made his own parameter protection gem public:

DHH's strong_parameters gem will be integrated into rails4, so I suggest you use it instead.


Build Status

Provides a method to help protect your Ruby on Rails controllers from malicious or accidentally destructive user parameters. It is independent, but heavily influenced by param_protected.

Make all your controllers secure by default as well as provide readable messages to users when a security breach was prevented.

For more information on the design considerations please visit:


Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'param_accessible'

And then execute:

$ bundle

Or install it yourself as:

$ gem install param_accessible


This gem does not add any functionality by default. To activate it create a before_filter in any ActionController::Base subclass. We only use the filter for create and update actions because those are the normally only the only harmful ones:

before_filter :ensure_params_are_accessible, :only => [:create, :update]

Now let's expose the parameters that are common across our application:

param_accessible :page, :sort

You may want to allow all base-level parameters since most Rails controllers only send nested parameters to models (i.e. params[:user]):

# allow all base parameters (// is a regex that matches all strings)
param_accessible //

# allow any base parameter starting with "my_"
param_accessible /^my_/

We also want to make sure only admins can change a user's "is_admin" and "is_active" attributes:

param_accessible :user => [:is_admin, :is_active], :if => :is_admin?

Rinse and repeat for all your controllers and you're Rails Application will be much safer.


Placing the before_filter in our ApplicationController makes all our create and update actions secure by default. We also expose application-wide parameters and provide a friendly error message when an invalid parameter is provided.

class ApplicationController < ActionController::Base

  # make all your controllers secure by default
  before_filter :ensure_params_are_accessible, :only => [:create, :update]

  # expose the your common application parameters
  param_accessible :page, :sort

  # this error is thrown when the user submits an inaccessible param
  rescue_from ParamAccessible::Error, :with => :handle_param_not_accessible


  def handle_param_not_accessible e
    flash[:error] = "You gave me some invalid parameters: #{e.inaccessible_params.join(', ')}"
    redirect_to :back


Inheriting from the class above, we now need to specify our accessible parameters for the create and update actions.

class UsersController < ApplicationController

  # these attributes are available for everyone
  param_accessible :user => [:name, :email, :password, :password_confirmation]

  # these attributes are only available if the controller instance method is_admin? is true
  param_accessible :user => [:is_admin, :is_locked_out], :if => :is_admin?

  def update
    @user = User.find(params[:id])

    # this is now safe!
    if @user.update_attributes(params[:user])

Showcase a helper module for handling errors and some more options.

class DemoController < ApplicationController

  # rescue_from ParamAccessible::Error and respond with a 406 Not Acceptable status 
  # with an HTML, JSON, XML, or JS explanation of which parameters were invalid
  include ParamAccessible::NotAcceptableHelper

  param_accessible :foo, :if => :is_admin
  param_accessible :bar, :unless => :logged_in?
  param_accessible :baz, :only => :show
  param_accessible :nut, :except => :index


Using Rails' skip_before_filter to make a controller insecure again

class InsecureController < ApplicationController

  # skip the filter ApplicationController set up to avoid the accessible parameter checks
  skip_before_filter :ensure_params_are_accessible


Nested attributes

Arrays of attributes like the ones used with Rails' nested forms feature can be specified using the following syntax:

class DemoController < ApplicationController
  param_accessible :"foo[]" => [:bar, :baz]


  1. Fork it
  2. Create your feature branch (git checkout -b my-new-feature)
  3. Commit your changes (git commit -am 'Added some feature')
  4. Push to the branch (git push origin my-new-feature)
  5. Create new Pull Request
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