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CsFire: Transparent client-side mitigation of malicious cross-domain requests

By Lieven Desmet, Thomas Heyman, Frank Piessens and Wouter Joosen


Abstract Protecting users in the ubiquitous online world is becoming more and more important, as shown by web application security – or the lack thereof – making the mainstream news. One of the more harmful attacks is cross-site request forgery (CSRF), which allows an attacker to make requests to certain web applications while impersonating the user without their awareness. Existing client-side protection mechanisms do not fully mitigate the problem or have a degrading effect on the browsing experience of the user, especially with web 2.0 techniques such as AJAX, mashups and single sign-on. To fill this gap, this paper makes three contributions: first, a thorough traffic analysis on real-world traffic quantifies the amount of cross-domain traffic and identifies its specific properties. Second, a client-side enforcement policy has been constructed and a Firefox extension, named CsFire (CeaseFire), has been implemented to autonomously mitigate CSRF attacks as precise as possible. Evaluation was done using specific CSRF scenarios, as well as in real-life by a group of test users. Third, the granularity of the client-side policy is improved even further by incorporating server-specific policy refinements about intended cross-domain traffic.

Year: 2010
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