What is a Cross-site Request Forgery Attack?

by Carson
cross-site request forgery

Do you know that there are attacks known as cross-site request forgery that can make you send an illegal request even if you are entirely innocent? Let’s find out about it in this article.

How Does Cross-site Request Forgery Work?

Cross-site request forgery, also known as CSRF, involves an attacker crafting an inappropriate request in the first step. These unauthorized requests are often related to changing their login credentials on their accounts or even transferring money from the victim to the attacker. After that, the attacker either puts it on their website or a legitimate website that the attackers hacked. Once a user performs a specific action, like clicking on a link or even just visiting a webpage, the unwanted request is sent, and modifications may be made without consent.

Since cross-site request forgery can let the attacker send any request that anyone can, it can be used to damage data seriously, especially if the victim is a system administrator. It can be used to prevent users from accessing their personal data or even let hackers steal confidential information.

How to Prevent Yourself from Falling Victim to CSRF?

Although cross-site request forgery can be very hazardous, just like any other cyberattack, there are ways for users and web developers to prevent it from harming users in the first place.

Firstly, as usual, users must be wary of links from emails, messages, and websites, even if they look legitimate. This is because there may be almost unnoticeable differences between the hazardous email address or domain name to a well-known one, and you cannot rule out the possibility that the servers of legitimate sites have been hacked and used to send spam.

Secondly, developers can also do their job to prevent CSRF from harming users through their websites. They primarily rely on making the forged request invalid. Firstly, many CSRF attacks depend on hijacking session tokens. Therefore, tokens must be random and disposable, and they should be delivered securely so that they cannot be eavesdropped on or revealed through error messages or request logs.

Moreover, more advanced techniques can be used as well, such as the “double submit” method that sets the token in both the cookie and the request parameter. If the server verifies that the tokens match, actions will be taken based on the request. Also, the synchronizer token method can be implemented as well. It involves sending a hidden token to a form with an exact copy in the server. If the token returned to the server along with the form is identical to the token in the associated session, the user is authenticated, and the form submission is accepted.


In this short article, we briefly discussed the implications of cross-site request forgery, as well as the consequences of it and how to avoid it in the future. If you want to learn more about this type of cyberattack, please visit the websites in the references below.

References and Credits

  1. (n.d.). Cross-site request forgery (CSRF). Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://portswigger.net/web-security/csrf
  2. (n.d.). What is Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF)? Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://www.cloudflare.com/learning/security/threats/cross-site-request-forgery/
  3. (n.d.). Cross site request forgery (CSRF) attack. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://www.imperva.com/learn/application-security/csrf-cross-site-request-forgery/
  4. (n.d.). Cross-Site Request Forgery Prevention Cheat Sheet. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://cheatsheetseries.owasp.org/cheatsheets/Cross-Site_Request_Forgery_Prevention_Cheat_Sheet.html
  5. Kaviru Samarasekera. (2019, October 10). Synchronizer Token Pattern. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://medium.com/@kaviru.mihisara/synchronizer-token-pattern-e6b23f53518e

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