Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF)

Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF), also known as XSRF, is an attack method that fools a web browser into performing unwanted actions in a user application. Similar to Phishing Attacks, CSRFs are typically administered using malicious social engineering, such as an email or link that tricks the victim into sending a forged request to a server. As the unsuspecting user is authenticated by their application at the time of the attack, it’s almost impossible to distinguish a legitimate request from a forged one. A successful CSRF attack can be devastating for both the business and the user. It can result in damaged business relationships, unauthorized money transfers, changed passwords, and data theft. Depending on the nature of the CSRF attack, the hacker may gain full control over the user’s account. If the compromised user has a privileged (administrator) account within the application, the attacker might be able to take full control of all the application’s data and functionality.

Source: Imperva, PortSwigger

Additional Reading: Google and Mozilla Lay Groundwork For A ‘Post-XSS World’

Related Terms: Session Hijacking Attack

What does this mean for an SMB?

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can perform a number of preventative measures to help prevent and protect your employees against CSRF attacks. From a user’s perspective, prevention is a matter of safeguarding login credentials and denying unauthorized actors access to applications.

Best practices for employees include:

  • Logging off-web applications when not in use
  • Securing usernames and passwords with 14+ character passwords stored in a Password Manager
  • Not allowing browsers to remember passwords

Best practices for companies developing code:

To learn more about CSRF, watch this short video:

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