Implementing CSRF protection with Angular-js

After 2 articles on the security, I continue with the set up of the CSRF protection using Spring security.

The main idea behind is to prevent some one else to create (forge) a request without our authorization. Imagine that a page uses JavaScript to send something like, if you are connected to your bank in another tab browser, the request could be successful…
To avoid that, for each request, the server sends a unique identifier (Spring uses a UUID) and it must be part of the request you send back to the server.

Fortunately, Angular provides a support for CSRF protection. Following the documentation, the server needs to provide a cookie named XSRF-TOKEN and Angular will send its value in a header named X-XSRF-TOKEN. On the server side, Spring then verifies that the value from the header is the expected one and continue the process, otherwise, it sends an error.

But to make them working together, we need to make some adjustments.
I use the same pet store application I used in my previous article and it is still available on github.

Let’s go to the code!
First of all, on the server side, Spring provides the identifier as a request attribute, because in a standard Spring-MVC application, it is very simple to add it in an HTML form using expression language. But with our SOA approach, we are just sending data, therefore we need to put it in the cookie we send to the browser. To do that, I defined a filter which just take the CSRF token and set a cookie:

public class CsrfInjectorFilter extends OncePerRequestFilter {

	private static final String XSRF_TOKEN = "XSRF-TOKEN";
	private static final Logger LOG = LoggerFactory.getLogger(CsrfInjectorFilter.class);

	protected void doFilterInternal(HttpServletRequest request, HttpServletResponse response, FilterChain chain)
			throws ServletException, IOException {

		CsrfToken csrfToken = (CsrfToken) request.getAttribute(CsrfToken.class.getName());
		if (csrfToken != null) {
			Cookie cookie = new Cookie(XSRF_TOKEN, csrfToken.getToken());
			//mandatory to avoid duplicate cookies in browser
		}else {
			LOG.debug("No csrf token found!!");
		chain.doFilter(request, response);

Note: I choose to define the cookie name as Angular expects it, but it also possible to define its name on the client side (using $httpProvider.defaults.xsrfCookieName) and keeping the web service ignore who is the client.

There is also one important thing you must absolutely do (I spent half of a day with that!), you have to set a path to your cookie! Otherwise, for some reasons, the browser does not replace the cookie when it is changed, and it simply manage several cookies with the same name, resulting in CSRF errors on the server side. I tested this issue with Firefox and Chrome.
On the other side, I need to configure Angular to return the header as expected by Spring, this is done in the app.js file:

petstoreApp.config(['$httpProvider', function($httpProvider){
    $httpProvider.defaults.xsrfHeaderName = 'X-CSRF-TOKEN';

We can see that the code is very straightforward.

Leave a comment