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Encyclopedia / Encyclopedia Part 6 /

What Is Cross-Site Request Forgery?

Even though it's one of the lesser known security hole variants, it doesn't follow that the cross-site request forgery (CSRF or XSRF) is not hazardous or threatening, because it truly is. It's even part of the top ten OWASP website vulnerabilities in existence to boot. Don't let the fact that it's an unpopular vulnerability lead you into underestimating its capabilities, because it can cripple entire systems beyond repair. What's more, the fact that many people don't even know that this code flaw exists is what makes it such a deadly force. It's indeed a mystery why hackers don't make use of this susceptibility more, especially in light of the fact that most websites out there are prone to this attack type.

Exploitable Vulnerabilities

The malicious exploit known as CSRF or XSRF involves a hacker sending valid orders to a site from a user without said user's permission. The attacker basically commandeers the victim's web browser in order to make sending legitimate requests possible. The commands are sent via the user's browser with him none the wiser. XSRF is also referred to by hackers as session riding because the one doing the hacking is actually using the session of the user in order to send those commands or requests in the first place. Moreover, this shouldn't be confused with cross-site scripting or XSS, because these two exploitable vulnerabilities are mutually exclusive from each other.

Surfing Web in Real Time

To be more specific, fixing potential XSS security holes won't fix problems concerning XSRF and vice-versa. Just because they both contain the words "cross" doesn't mean they're the same thing. Do not be fooled into thinking that XSS protection equals XSRF protection. XSRF exploits the trust of a website on whatever requests are delivered from the user's browser, while XSS exploits the trust of a client for an application or website. Also, XSRF only works when a user has his web browser open and he's surfing the web in real-time, because it's his browsing session that's being used to make it appear the legitimate orders are being forwarded by him.

Compromise Trusted Website

XSRF is all about tricking a website into thinking that all requests made by a user's browser are safe, even though the exploit proves otherwise. What's more, the XSRF attack involves three important elements. First, the malicious website, then the trusted website, then the victim; the trusted website is the website that's tricked into thinking the victim is sending requests even though his session was hijacked by a hacker. Meanwhile, the malicious website is the one that injects HTTP requests and malicious code that will ultimately compromise the trusted website's overall security. Scan your Website with Security Scanner.
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