To explain how the vulnerability takes place, we need to understand how the user’s browser and a website communicate.

Here, we’ll discuss two kinds of HTTP requests and browser cookies:

i. HTTP GET Request

When you visit a website, you send an HTTP GET request to the server of that website. This request will ask for the data that is needed to display the front-end of the site. The web server will respond and send the data requested. Then, the contents of the website will load on your browser.

When a person is not logged into a site, they are an unauthenticated user. So when GET and POST requests are sent, no cookies are used. There are no security issues in this scenario. But when the user has logged in, they are now an authenticated user.

The website uses cookies to recognize and cater to this user. It could use these cookies to generate the data relevant only to that unique ID. It helps them login in the user easily, display ads tailored to the user’s preference, or display products the user likes, etc.

ii. The CSRF Process

Now coming back to how a CSRF vulnerability happens. For this attack to be effective, the hacker needs to use an authenticated user that uses cookies.

We’ll explain this with an example. Here, we’ll show you how a hacker can take control of a user’s account and then use it to hack your website using a CSRF vulnerability.

What Happens On The User Side?

  1. A user is logged into on their browser.
  2. Next, the hacker lures this user into clicking on by sending them an email that tells them to visit this site and sign up to receive $50 in their account. (These links can also be inserted on the itself using other vulnerabilities)
  3. We’re going to assume that the victim thinks this trick website is legitimate and falls for the scam. Here, they fill up a form with their details and click on ‘Submit’.
  4. On, the hacker has already placed HTML code behind this ‘Submit’ button. When clicked upon, it will send a POST request to (where the user is already logged in) on behalf of this user.
User already logged

What Happens On The Website Side?

  1. Using cookies, verifies the user (and the browser) and allows the request. This request will look legitimate as it’s coming from the authenticated user.
  2. But the POST request sent contains malicious script that could do harm to the website. For instance, the script could contain a command to change the current account password to “newpassword123”.
  3. When the request is accepted by, the code will run and change the password. Then, the hacker will be able to login to the account using the new password and take full control.
  4. Next, the hacker can now run further attacks on the website. Depending on the privileges granted to this user, they might be able to access’s database and take control of functionality as well.

This is just one example of what a hacker can do using CSRF attacks. There are plenty of other scenarios that can take place. But both the user and the website will be affected by this hack.