How to Prevent Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) Attacks with Evident

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April 9, 2018

Data security continues to be an issue for organizations across numerous sectors.

According to research from the Identity Theft Resource Center, hackers orchestrated more than 1,500 breaches in 2017, making off with approximately 179 million sensitive files. So far this year, these nefarious coders have masterminded more than 200 breaches and stolen over 4 million pieces of supposedly secure information. Cybercriminals leverage countless attack vectors to raid company data caches. Few methods, however, are as insidious and difficult to prevent as cross-site request forgery attacks.

Analysts at the data security firm DOS Arrest found that of the 90 percent of modern websites that are vulnerable to some form of cyberattack, two-thirds are vulnerable to CSRF strikes as of 2013. Unfortunately, relatively few businesses have taken measures to reduce the risk of suffering of such assaults over the years. In fact, the SANS Institute reported that more than 40 percent of firms worldwide have experienced CSRF or similar web app attacks between August 2016 and August 2017.

With this in mind, internal information technology teams should act quickly to strengthen their digital defenses and introduce solutions that can effectively ward off hackers intending to perform CSRF attacks. But before moving forward with such efforts, IT stakeholders must familiarize themselves with CSRF and how cyberattacks using this technique normally unfold.

Understanding CSRF

Hackers use CSRF to target workflows for authenticated users. A typical CSRF strike occurs when an unsuspecting user so much as visits a malicious website.  Code that forges a request against a legitimate website using the individual’s unique login token executes, ultimately executing seemingly authentic information requests. This technique allows cybercriminals, obscured by an authorized user profile, to siphon off private information anonymously or initiate actions against a user’s account without his or her consent.

Cybercriminals normally use CSRF to assail online banking websites, payment portals, data brokers and social media networks. Cross-site scripting vulnerabilities are common across websites of all kinds and among the most dangerous system weaknesses in existence today, according to The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP). Only organizations capable of scrubbing their code for these vulnerabilities can get ahead of CSRF strikes. Of course, few businesses can accomplish this using only internal talent, as it necessitates detailed code sanitization, which, in and of themselves, require IT teams to review active server-side scripts, search them for vulnerabilities and implement controlled input policies that may inhibit user experience.

Even the largest, most technologically advanced firms must look to external collaborators for help. PayPal did this back in 2016 when it took defensive action based on insights from a French software engineer who had discovered a serious CSRF vulnerability hidden in one of the online payment company’s websites. But waiting around for hired consultants to pinpoint vulnerabilities might be more expensive than it’s worth.

Luckily, there is a platform that already protects against known threats.

Mitigating Web Application Security Risks with Evident

If internal code sanitization and partnerships with outside engineers are not cost-effective strategies for addressing security vulnerabilities , then partnering with a proven information verification provider such as Evident is an easy solution. Evident allows you to verify sensitive data without exposure to potentially vulnerable channels. Evident’s VerifyAPI bolsters authentication in conjunction with Evident’s AssureSDK, which integrates with custom browser applications to streamline the user experience.

Is your organization interested in processing information safely and elegantly at minimal cost? Connect with us today and learn how to solve your security and UX dilemma for good. Click here to review our API documentation.

Damian Starosielsky

Damian Starosielsky has over 15 years of experience leading highly capable onshore and offshore software development teams, with a proven track record of launching new, innovative products. As one of the key engineering leads of AirDefense, he participated in the company’s growth from about 30 to over 100 employees, culminating in the acquisition by Motorola in 2008. After the acquisition, Damian took additional responsibilities and led engineering efforts related to two successful AirDefense product launches in the areas of WLAN management and indoor location tracking.

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