Sandboxing Rhino in Java


I’ve been working on a Java app which needed Rhino for scripting. The app would need to run untrusted JavaScript code from 3rd parties, so I had to find a way to block access to all Java methods, except the ones I wanted. This would not be a problem if there was an easy way to disable LiveConnect – the feature of Rhino which provides java access to scripts – but there is no such thing.

However, after a lot of digging around, I finally found a way to do this without too much hacking. In fact, it can be done by just extending a few of the Rhino classes, and using the setters provided to override some of the default ones.

Note about newer versions of Rhino

If you have a recent version of Rhino, you may have a built-in method to create a sandbox. As commenter “Friend” pointed out, initSafeStandardObjects() can be used to do that.


Let’s first look at the ClassShutter, which can be used to restrict access to Java packages and classes.

//cx is the Context instance you're using to run scripts
cx.setClassShutter(new ClassShutter() {
	public boolean visibleToScripts(String className) {					
			return true;
		return false;

The above will effectively disable access to all Java classes onwards from the point where the shutter was set. However, if you run any scripts before setting the shutter, classes accessed there can still be used! You can use this to your advantage, for example to provide specific classes in the scripts under different names or such.

You probably noticed the comparison to “adapter” in the shutter. This is for when you implement interfaces or extend Java classes. Rhino will create new classes based on those interfaces/classes, and they will be called adapterN, where N is a number. If you block access to classes starting with adapter, you can’t implement or extend, and my use-case required that.

However, there is a limitation in the ClassShutter…


As you may know, you can use someInstance.getClass().forName(“some.package.Class”).newInstance() to get a new instance of some.package.Class.

This will not get blocked by the ClassShutter! We need to disable access to getClass() to block this.

While the ClassShutter is relatively well documented, doing this required more research. A post in the Rhino mailing list finally pushed me to the right direction: Overriding certain NativeJavaObject methods and creating a custom ContextFactory and WrapFactory for that.

Here is an extended NativeJavaObject, which blocks access to getClass. You could use this approach to block access to other methods too:

public static class SandboxNativeJavaObject extends NativeJavaObject {
	public SandboxNativeJavaObject(Scriptable scope, Object javaObject, Class staticType) {
		super(scope, javaObject, staticType);
	public Object get(String name, Scriptable start) {
		if (name.equals("getClass")) {
			return NOT_FOUND;
		return super.get(name, start);

To make the above class work, you need two more classes:

A WrapFactory which returns our SandboxNativeJavaObject’s

public static class SandboxWrapFactory extends WrapFactory {
	public Scriptable wrapAsJavaObject(Context cx, Scriptable scope, Object javaObject, Class staticType) {
		return new SandboxNativeJavaObject(scope, javaObject, staticType);

And a ContextFactory, which returns Context’s which use SandboxWrapFactory:

public class SandboxContextFactory extends ContextFactory {
	protected Context makeContext() {
		Context cx = super.makeContext();
		cx.setWrapFactory(new SandboxWrapFactory());
		return cx;

Finally, to make all this work, we need to tell Rhino the global ContextFactory:

ContextFactory.initGlobal(new SandboxContextFactory());

With this, we are done. Now, when you use ContextFactory.getGlobal().enterContext(), you will get sandboxing contexts. But why did we need to set it globally? This is because it would appear that certain things, such as the adapter classes, use the global context factory to get some context for themselves, and without setting the global factory, they would get unlimited access.

In closing

I hope this is useful for someone. It took me a long time to figure it all out, so here it is now, all documented in one place. =)

The mailing list post where I found the direction for blocking getClass can be found here. Thanks to Charles Lowell.

There is also the SecurityController, which may be useful in further securing the class.

And as a final warning, while this approach works for me, and I haven’t yet found any way to get past the sandboxing and into Java-land… but there may be a way, and if you find one, do let me know.