Tag Archives: MVC

Fixing CSRF Vulnerability

One way that your web-site might be vulnerable to an attack is via Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF or XSRF).

If you’ve ever been logged into a web-site – say Twitter for example – and you open a separate tab, then type in a twitter account, for example: https://www.twitter.com/paul_michaels, you’ll notice that when the site opens, it opens already logged in for you – which is very helpful. Imagine having to re-log-in every single time you wanted to view a tweet or a profile.

Okay, now imagine that, instead of typing that into the browser, you click the link above – try it! What – it didn’t take you to Twitter, but it took you to the home page of this blog? In fact, that’s exactly how a CSRF attack would work in practice. If you were already logged into that site, the link could have executed a CSRF attack.

Cross Site Request Forgery works on the premise that the victim of the attack is actually logged into a given website with valid credentials, and the attacker knows the exact format of a valid request. So, for example, I can take you to my Twitter profile, because the format of that is well known. Nobody, least of all Twitter themselves, want you to have to mess around logging in again.

But what about if you want to actually post a Tweet? Here’s the Url that gets called:

It’s a little difficult to demonstrate, because Twitter operates over HTTPS, so the traffic is encrypted, but the gist is that, even if I managed to create a site that copied this message exactly, the Tweet would not get created. Let’s have a look at replicating such an attack.

To Reproduce

Your first step is to create a really bog standard web site – the default MVC template will do. It might also help to demonstrate if you don’t use HTTPS.

Launch the web-site with F12 tools and make a given request. For example, click the “Contact” link on the default site. Make a note of the URL and the form data for the request:

Leave the app running and logged in.

Now Attack

Create a new web app with the following code:

<h1>Run CSRF Attack on MyApp</h1>
<form action="https://localhost:12312/SendLoadsOfMoney" method="post">
    <input type="hidden" name="values" 
           value="{'BankName': 'Big Bank', 'Amount': '1234.12' }">
    <input type="submit" value="Attack Now!">

Obviously, don’t use that code – otherwise you’ll cause over a thousand pounds to be transferred from my account to yours! Replace the URL with whatever the URL from the above site was, and the values with whatever values were behind your grey box above. You can use POST or GET or whatever else you like. What you’ll notice is that clicking your button interacts with the site you created in the same way as it would if you were on your site. The “SendLoadsOfMoney” is obviously an example that takes it to the extremes, but the principle is correct.


To fix this in MVC is very easy.



If you add this to the controller method, you should start seeing this error:

The required anti-forgery cookie “__RequestVerificationToken” is not present.

Your calling code might look like this:

<form action="Test" method="post">
    <input type="submit" value="Test3">

The next step is to add a call into the client; for example:

<form action="Test" method="post">
    <input type="submit" value="Test3">

So far, so good. This works for Asp.Net Mvc Core and Framework, but not for ApiControllers! The decorator [ValidateAntiForgeryToken] has no effect on an ApiController out of the box (and worse, you’ll never know it without launching a specific attack on your ApiController). So what can you do?

One option is to implement a custom token as described here. I would treat this as a specific case for ApiControllers only, though.







Getting Started With SignalR

SignalR is an open source framework allowing bi-directional communication between client and server. Basically, it uses a stack of technologies; the idea being that the Signalr framework will establish the “best” way to maintain a bi-directional data stream, starting with web sockets, and falling all the way back to simply polling the server.

The following gives the basics of establishing a web site that can accept Signalr, and a console app that can send messages to it.

Create project

Let’s go MVC:


Hubs are the way in which the Signalr service communicates with its clients. Obviously, the term service here may not actually represent a service.

To add a hub class, select the project, right-click and “New Item..”:

This adds the file, along with new references:

The code above that gets added is:

public void Hello()

Clients.All returns a dynamic type, so we lose intellisense at this point. It’s important that the signature of this method is exactly correct, and that it is decorated with the name of the hub, and that it is decorated with the name of the hub; so let’s replace with:

public class MyHub1 : Hub
    public void Hello(string message)

Change Startup.cs:

public partial class Startup
    public void Configuration(IAppBuilder app)

For all this to actually do anything, the next thing to do is hook up the JavaScript:

$(function () {
    // Declare a proxy to reference the hub. 
    var hub = $.connection.MyHub1;
    // Create a function that the hub can call to broadcast messages.
    hub.client.hello = function (message) {
        .done(function () { console.log("MyHub1 Successfully Started"); })
        .fail(function () { console.log("Error: MyHub1 Not Successfully Started"); })

Effectively, once we receive a message, we’re just going to display an alert. Once the event handler is wired up, we try to start the hub.

Next, reference the required files in BundleConfig.cs:

bundles.Add(new ScriptBundle("~/bundles/signalr").Include(

These are referenced in _Layout.cshtml; remember also that, because SignalR references Jquery, you’ll need to remove other references to Jquery:

<title>@ViewBag.Title - My ASP.NET Application</title>
<script type="text/javascript" src="~/signalr/hubs"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="~/Scripts/Notification.js"></script>

. . .

    @RenderSection("scripts", required: false)

Notes on Bundles

The purpose of bundling is to shrink the size of the bundled files. The idea being that small files make for a speedy web-site.

Console App

The next step is to create an application that can fire a notification to the page. In this case, I’m using a console app, just because I like to see everything working with console apps.

Start with a NuGet Reference:

The code:

class Program
    static void Main(string[] args)
        Console.Write("Message: ");
        string message = Console.ReadLine();
        HubConnection connection = new HubConnection("http://localhost:4053/");
        IHubProxy hub = connection.CreateHubProxy("myHub1");
        hub.Invoke<string>("Hello", message).Wait();            

And that’s it – you should be able to send a message to the web site from the console app. The examples that are typically given elsewhere on the net are chat rooms, but this clearly has many more uses.

Some abstract notes that I made while researching this.


Version 1

protected void Application_Start()
    >RouteTable.Routes.MapHubs(new HubConfiguration());


Severity Code Description Project File Line Source Suppression State
Error CS0619 ‘SignalRRouteExtensions.MapHubs(RouteCollection, HubConfiguration)’ is obsolete: ‘Use IAppBuilder.MapSignalR in an Owin Startup class. See http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=320578 for more details.’ SignalRTest3 C:\Users\Paul\documents\visual studio 14\Projects\SignalRTest3\SignalRTest3\Global.asax.cs 18 Build Active

This was for v1 Signal R – superseded in 2.


During trying to get this working, the prospect of using CORS came up. This enables cross domain requests, which are typically prohibited.


The generated Proxy can be viewed (navigate to http://localhost:4053/signalr/hubs):

 $.hubConnection.prototype.createHubProxies = function () {
        var proxies = {};
        this.starting(function () {
            // Register the hub proxies as subscribed
            // (instance, shouldSubscribe)
            registerHubProxies(proxies, true);
        }).disconnected(function () {
            // Unsubscribe all hub proxies when we "disconnect".  This is to ensure that we do not re-add functional call backs.
            // (instance, shouldSubscribe)
            registerHubProxies(proxies, false);
proxies['MyHub1'] = this.createHubProxy('MyHub1'); 
        proxies['MyHub1'].client = { };
        proxies['MyHub1'].server = {
            hello: function (message) {
                return proxies['MyHub1'].invoke.apply(proxies['MyHub1'], $.merge(["Hello"], $.makeArray(arguments)));
return proxies;