Data Sanitation: The Sanitize Class

Cake comes with Sanitize, a class you can use to rid user-submitted data of malicious attacks and other unwanted data. Sanitize is a core library, so it can be used anywhere inside of your code, but is probably best used in controllers or models.

Include the library and then create a new Sanitize object:

$mrClean = new Sanitize();

Making Data Safe for use in SQL and HTML

This section explains how to use some of the functions that Sanitize offers.

  • paranoid
  • string $string
  • array $allowedChars

This function strips anything out of the target $string that is not a plain-jane alphanumeric character. You can, however, let it overlook certain characters by passing them along inside the $allowedChars array:

$badString = ";:<script><html><   // >@@#";

echo $mrClean->paranoid($badString);

// output: scripthtml

echo $mrClean->paranoid($badString, array(' ', '@'));

// output: scripthtml    @@
  • html
  • string $string
  • boolean $remove = false

This method helps you get user submitted data ready for display inside an existing HTML layout. This is especially useful if you don’t want users to be able to break your layouts or insert images or scripts inside of blog comments, forum posts, and the like. If the $remove option is set to true, any HTML is removed rather than rendered as HTML entities:

$badString = '<font size="99" color="#FF0000">HEY</font><script>...</script>';

echo $mrClean->html($badString);

// output: <font size="99" color="#FF0000">HEY</font><script>...</script>

echo $mrClean->html($badString, true);

// output: font size=99 color=#FF0000 HEY fontscript...script
  • sql
  • string $string

Used to escape SQL statements by adding slashes, depending on the system’s current magic_quotes_gpc setting.

  • cleanArray
  • array @$dirtyArray

This function is an industrial strength, multi-purpose cleaner, meant to be used on entire arrays (like $this->params[‘form’], for example). The function takes an array and cleans it: nothing is returned because the array is passed by reference. The following cleaning operations are performed on each element in the array (recursively):

  1. Odd spaces (including 0xCA) are replaced with regular spaces.
  2. HTML is replaced by its corresponding HTML entities (including \n to <br>).
  3. Double-check special chars and remove carriage returns for increased SQL security.
  4. Add slashes for SQL (just calls the sql function outlined above).
  5. Swap user-inputted backslashes with trusted backslashes.