Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) is an attack that forces an end user to execute unwanted actions on a web application in which they're currently authenticated. CSRF attacks specifically target state-changing requests, not theft of data, since the attacker has no way to see the response to the forged request. With a little help of social engineering (such as sending a link via email or chat), an attacker may trick the users of a web application into executing actions of the attacker's choosing. If the victim is a normal user, a successful CSRF attack can force the user to perform state changing requests like transferring funds, changing their email address, and so forth. If the victim is an administrative account, CSRF can compromise the entire web application.
The most important actions that one can perform on a website also tend to be the ones that require one to log in to the website. Banks need to be able to identify a user to know the bank account from which to withdraw. E-commerce sites need a user’s identity so she can be associated with a credit card number, billing address, and shopping cart. Video-sharing sites need to be able to associate unique upvotes with users. Using CSRF, an attacker could force a victim to send the attacker some money, or buy something from them, or upvote their videos.
There are many suggested prevention measures that can be implemented to mitigate CSRF attacks. Some of them, though, are not complete solutions and leave room for the attack to still work. For example:
The use of a secret cookie – This method will not work because all cookies related to the target website will be submitted as usual as in a normal (legitimate) HTTP request.
Accept POST requests only – This suggestion falls short because attackers can deceive an end-user to submit a forged POST request unknowingly using social engineering methods.
URL Rewriting – An incomplete solution since some session information is included or exposed in the URL.