Cross Site Request Forgery protection

CSRF is an attack which forces an end user to execute unwanted actions on a web application in which they are currently authenticated. For more details see Cross-Site Request Forgery.

OMERO.web provides easy-to-use protection against Cross Site Request Forgeries, for more information see Django documentation.

The first defense against CSRF attacks is to ensure that GET requests (and other ‘safe’ methods, as defined by 9.1.1 Safe Methods, HTTP 1.1, RFC 2616) are only reading data from the server.

Requests that write data to the server should only use methods such as POST, PUT and DELETE. These requests can then be protected as follows:

  • By default OMERO.web has the middleware django.middleware.csrf.CsrfViewMiddleware added to the list of middleware classes.

  • In any template that uses a POST form, use the csrf_token tag inside the <form> element if the form is for an internal URL, e.g.:

    <form action="." method="post">{% csrf_token %}


    This should not be done for POST forms that target external URLs, since that would cause the CSRF token to be leaked, leading to a vulnerability.

  • On each XMLHttpRequest set a custom X-CSRFToken header to the value of the CSRF token and pass the CSRF token in data with every AJAX POST request. You can import a jQuery-based script to do this as follows:

    <script type="text/javascript" src="{% static "webgateway/js/ome.csrf.js" %}"></script>

    For more details see CSRF for ajax.

The Django framework also offers decorator methods that can help you protect your view methods and restrict access to views based on the request method. For more details see Django decorators.

By default OMERO.web provides a built-in view that handles all unsafe incoming requests failing with 403 Forbidden response if the CSRF token has not been included with a POST form.