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In this document

Introduction

"Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) is a type of attack that occurs when a malicious web site, email, blog, instant message, or program causes a user’s web browser to perform an unwanted action on a trusted site for which the user is currently authenticated" (OWASP).

It's also briefly described here where it explains how to implement it into ASP.NET Web API.

ABP framework simplifies and automates CSRF protection as much as possible. The startup templates come with this pre-configured and it works out-of-the-box. In this document, we will explain how it's integrated into the ASP.NET platforms and how it works.

Http Verbs

You don't normally need to protect the the GET, HEAD, OPTIONS and TRACE action HTTP verbs since they normally are side-effect free (they don't change the database). While ABP assumes this and implements Anti Forgery protection for only the POST, PUT, PATCH and DELETE verbs, you can change this behavior using the attributes defined in this document.

Non-Browser Clients

CSRF is a type of attack that is a problem for browsers because a browser sends all cookies (including auth cookies) in all requests, including cross-domain requests. This is not a problem for non-browser clients, like mobile applications. The ABP framework understands the difference and automatically skips anti-forgery validation for non- browser clients.

ASP.NET MVC

Features

ASP.NET MVC has it's own built-in AntiForgery system as you probably know, but it has a few weaknesses:

  • It requires you to add the ValidateAntiForgeryToken attribute to all actions that need to be protected. You could potentially forget to add it for all the needed actions!
  • The ValidateAntiForgeryToken attribute only checks the __RequestVerificationToken in the HTML form fields. This makes it very hard or impossible to use it for AJAX requests, especially if you are sending "application/json" as the content-type. In AJAX requests, it's common to set the token in the request header.
  • It's hard to access the verification token in JavaScript (especially if you don't write your own JavaScript in .cshtml files). We need to access it to use it in our AJAX requests.
  • Even if we can access to the token in JavaScript, we must manually add it to the header for every request.

ABP does followings things to overcome these shortcomings:

  • You do not need to add the ValidateAntiForgeryToken attribute for POST, PUT, PATCH and DELETE actions anymore, because they are automatically protected (using AbpAntiForgeryMvcFilter). Automatic protection will be enough for most cases. But you can disable it for an action or controller using the DisableAbpAntiForgeryTokenValidation attribute and you can enable it for any action/controller using the ValidateAbpAntiForgeryToken attribute.
  • In addition to the HTML form field, AbpAntiForgeryMvcFilter also checks the token in the header. This way, we can easily use anti-forgery token protections for AJAX requests.
  • ABP provides the abp.security.antiForgery.getToken() function to get the token in JavaScript, even if you don't need it often.
  • ABP Automatically adds an anti-forgery token to the header for all AJAX requests.

In this way, CSRF protection works almost seamlessly.

Integration

The startup templates already integrate the CSRF protections out-of-the-box. If you need to manually add it to your project (maybe you have a legacy project), follow this guide.

Layout View

We need to add the following code in our Layout view:

@{
    SetAntiForgeryCookie();
}

All pages that use this layout will include it. This method is defined in the base ABP view class. It creates and sets the appropriate token cookies and makes JavaScript do the side-work. If you have more than one layout, add this to all of them.

That's all we have to do for ASP.NET MVC applications. All AJAX requests will be protected automatically, but we should still use the @Html.AntiForgeryToken() HTML helper for our HTML forms which are not posted via AJAX. There is no need to add the ValidateAbpAntiForgeryToken attribute for the corresponding action.

Configuration

XSRF protection is enabled by default. You can disable or configure it in your module's PreInitialize method. Example:

Configuration.Modules.AbpWeb().AntiForgery.IsEnabled = false;

You can also configure token and cookie names using Configuration.Modules.AbpWebCommon().AntiForgery object.

ASP.NET Web API

Features

The ASP.NET Web API does not include an anti-forgery mechanism. However, ASP.NET Boilerplate provides the infrastructure to add automated CSRF protection for ASP.NET Web API Controllers.

Integration

With ASP.NET MVC Clients

If you are using the Web API inside an MVC project, no additional configuration is needed. Even if you are self-hosting your Web API layer in another process, no configuration is needed as long as you are making AJAX requests from a configured MVC application.

With Other Clients

If your clients are different kinds of applications (say, an independent Angular application which can not use the SetAntiForgeryCookie() method as described above), then you should provide a way of setting the anti- forgery token cookie. One possible way of doing this is to create an api controller like the following:

using System.Net.Http;
using Abp.Web.Security.AntiForgery;
using Abp.WebApi.Controllers;

namespace AngularForgeryDemo.Controllers
{
    public class AntiForgeryController : AbpApiController
    {
        private readonly IAbpAntiForgeryManager _antiForgeryManager;

        public AntiForgeryController(IAbpAntiForgeryManager antiForgeryManager)
        {
            _antiForgeryManager = antiForgeryManager;
        }

        public HttpResponseMessage GetTokenCookie()
        {
            var response = new HttpResponseMessage();

            _antiForgeryManager.SetCookie(response.Headers);

            return response;
        }
    }
}

You can then call this action from the client to set the cookie.

ASP.NET Core

Features

ASP.NET Core MVC has a better Anti Forgery mechanism compared to previous versions (ASP.NET MVC 5.x):

  • It has the AutoValidateAntiforgeryTokenAttribute class that automates anti-forgery validation for all POST, PUT, PATCH and DELETE actions.
  • It has the ValidateAntiForgeryToken and IgnoreAntiforgeryToken attributes to control token validation.
  • It automatically adds an anti-forgery security token to HTML forms if you don't explicitly disable it. So there's no need to call @Html.AntiForgeryToken() in most cases.
  • It can read the request token from the HTTP header and the form field.

ABP adds the following features:

  • ABP automatically adds an anti-forgery token to the header for all AJAX requests.
  • It also provides an abp.security.antiForgery.getToken() function to get the token in the JavaScript, even you will not need it much.

Integration

The startup templates are already integrated to use CSRF protections out-of-the-box. If you need to manually add it to your project (maybe you created your project before we added it), follow this guide.

Startup Class

First, we must add the AutoValidateAntiforgeryTokenAttribute to the global filters while adding MVC in the ConfigureServices method of the Startup class:

services.AddMvc(options =>
{
    options.Filters.Add(new AutoValidateAntiforgeryTokenAttribute());
});

This way, all MVC actions (except GET, HEAD, OPTIONS and TRACE as declared before) will be automatically validated for an anti-forgery token.

Layout View

We must add the following code in our Layout view:

@using Abp.Web.Security.AntiForgery
@inject IAbpAntiForgeryManager AbpAntiForgeryManager
@{
    AbpAntiForgeryManager.SetCookie(Context);
}

All the pages that use this layout will include it. It creates and sets the appropriate token cookies and makes JavaScript do all the work. If you have more than one layout, add this to all of them.

That's all we must do for ASP.NET Core MVC applications. All AJAX requests will work automatically. For non-ajax form submits, ASP.NET Core automatically adds an anti-forgery token field if you use one of asp-* tags in your form. So there's normally no need to use @Html.AntiForgeryToken().

Client Libraries

The anti-forgery token must be provided in the request header for all AJAX requests, as we declared above. We will see how it's done here.

jQuery

The abp.jquery.js script defines an AJAX interceptor which adds the anti-forgery token to the request header for every request. It gets the token from the abp.security.antiForgery.getToken() JavaScript function.

AngularJS

AngularJS automatically adds the anti-forgery token to all AJAX requests. See the Cross Site Request Forgery (XSRF) Protection section in the AngularJS $http document. ABP uses the same cookie and header names by default. So, Angular integration works out of the box.

Other Libraries

If you are using any other library for AJAX requests, you have three options:

Intercept XMLHttpRequest

Since all libraries use JavaScript's native AJAX object, XMLHttpRequest, you can define a simple interceptor to add the token to the header:

(function (send) {
    XMLHttpRequest.prototype.send = function (data) {
        this.setRequestHeader(abp.security.antiForgery.tokenHeaderName, abp.security.antiForgery.getToken());
        return send.call(this, data);
    };
})(XMLHttpRequest.prototype.send);
Using the Library Interceptor

A good library provides interception points (like jQuery and AngularJS), so follow your vendor's documentation to learn how to intercept requests and manipulate headers.

Add the Header Manually

As a final option, you can use the abp.security.antiForgery.getToken() method to get the token and add it to the request header manually for every request. You probably do not need this and can solve this problem by using the methods described above.

Internals

You may wonder "How does ABP handle this?". Actually, we use the same mechanism described in the AngularJS documentation mentioned before. ABP stores the token into a cookie (as described above) and sets the request headers using that cookie. For validating it, it also integrates well into the ASP.NET MVC, Web API and Core frameworks.