CSRF attacks

In Deck, we make a number of POST requests that require user authentication. These requests are susceptible to cross site request forgery (CSRF) attacks, in which a malicious actor tricks an already authenticated user into submitting a form to one of these endpoints and performing one of these protected actions on their behalf.


If --cookie-secret is 32 or more bytes long, CSRF protection is automatically enabled. If --rerun-creates-job is specified, CSRF protection is required, and accordingly, --cookie-secret must be 32 bytes long.

We protect against CSRF attacks using the gorilla CSRF library, implemented in #13323. Broadly, this protection works by ensuring that any POST request originates from our site, rather than from an outside link. We do so by requiring that every POST request made to Deck includes a secret token either in the request header or in the form itself as a hidden input.

We cryptographically generate the CSRF token using the --cookie-secret and a user session value and include it as a header in every POST request made from Deck. If you are adding a new POST request, you must include the CSRF token as described in the gorilla documentation.

The gorilla library expects a 32-byte CSRF token. If --cookie-secret is sufficiently long, direct job reruns will be enabled via the /rerun endpoint. Otherwise, if --cookie-secret is less than 32 bytes and --rerun-creates-job is enabled, Deck will refuse to start. Longer values will work but should be truncated.

By default, gorilla CSRF requires that all POST requests are made over HTTPS. If developing locally over HTTP, you must specify --allow-insecure to Deck, which will configure both gorilla CSRF and GitHub oauth to allow HTTP requests.

CSRF can also be executed by tricking a user into making a state-mutating GET request. All state-mutating requests must therefore be POST requests, as gorilla CSRF does not secure GET requests.

Last modified December 1, 2022: Organize Legacy Snapshot docs (#26) (9ce71a0)