Netsparker identified a possible Cross-Site Request Forgery in login form.

In a login CSRF attack, the attacker forges a login request to an honest site using the attacker’s user name and password at that site. If the forgery succeeds, the honest server responds with a Set-Cookie header that instructs the browser to mutate its state by storing a session cookie, logging the user into the honest site as the attacker. This session cookie is used to bind subsequent requests to the user’s session and hence to the attacker’s authentication credentials. The attacker can later log into the site with his legitimate credentials and view private information like activity history that has been saved in the account.


In this particular case CSRF affects the login form in which the impact of this vulnerability is decreased significantly. Unlike normal CSRF vulnerabilities this will only allow an attacker to exploit some complex XSS vulnerabilities otherwise it can't be exploited.

For example;

If there is a page that's different for every user (such as "edit my profile") and vulnerable to XSS (Cross-site Scripting) then normally it cannot be exploited. However if the login form is vulnerable, an attacker can prepare a special profile, force victim to login as that user which will trigger the XSS exploit. Again attacker is still quite limited with this XSS as there is no active session. However the attacker can leverage this XSS in many ways such as showing the same login form again but this time capturing and sending the entered username/password to the attacker.

In this kind of attack, attacker will send a link containing html as simple as the following in which attacker's user name and password is attached.

<form method="POST" action="">
  <input type="text" name="user" value="h4ck3r" />
  <input type="password" name="pass" value="passw0rd" />

When the victim clicks the link then form will be submitted automatically to the honest site and exploitation is successful, victim will be logged in as the attacker and consequences will depend on the website behavior.

  • Search History

    Many sites allow their users to opt-in to saving their search history and provide an interface for a user to review his or her personal search history. Search queries contain sensitive details about the user’s interests and activities and could be used by the attacker to embarrass the user, to steal the user’s identity, or to spy on the user. Since the victim logs in as the attacker, the victim's search queries are then stored in the attacker’s search history, and the attacker can retrieve the queries by logging into his or her own account.

  • Shopping

    Merchant sites might save the credit card details in user's profile. In login CSRF attack, when user funds a purchase and enrolls the credit card, the credit card details might be added to the attacker's account.

  • Send additional information in each HTTP request that can be used to determine whether the request came from an authorized source. This "validation token" should be hard to guess for attacker who does not already have access to the user's account. If a request is missing a validation token or the token does not match the expected value, the server should reject the request.

  • If you are posting form in ajax request, custom HTTP headers can be used to prevent CSRF because the browser prevents sites from sending custom HTTP headers to another site but allows sites to send custom HTTP headers to themselves using XMLHttpRequest.

    • For native XMLHttpRequest (XHR) object in JavaScript;
      xhr = new XMLHttpRequest();
      xhr.setRequestHeader('custom-header', 'value');
      For JQuery, if you want to add a custom header (or set of headers) to

      a. individual request

          url: 'foo/bar',
          headers: { 'x-my-custom-header': 'some value' }

      b. every request

          headers: { 'x-my-custom-header': 'some value' }
          beforeSend: function(xhr) {
              xhr.setRequestHeader('x-my-custom-header', 'some value');
PCI v3.1-6.5.9, PCI v3.2-6.5.9, CAPEC-62, WASC-9, OWASP 2013-A8
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