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I'm currently working on an implementation of a CSRF protection. What is the best practice when we detect a CSRF? Is it better to 404 the page, 403 (forbidden), 200 (OK) with an error message, something else?

Bonus : here's my code. I'm not very proud of the preg_replace and ob_*. If you also have suggestions on how to do it better, I'll take that too.

  • The addCSRF method is called just before sending the output of an HTML page.
  • The checkCSRF method is called when the server receives a request.

<?php
// This method checks if the content contains a form and adds a csrf_token hidden field
public static function addCSRF()
{
    $content = ob_get_contents();
    if (strlen($content))
    {
        // Random csrf token
        $randomtoken = base64_encode(openssl_random_pseudo_bytes(32));
        // Add the hidden input to the content if needed
        $content = preg_replace('/(<([^>]*\s)?form(\s[^>]*)?>)/i', '\1<input type="hidden" name="csrf_token" value="'.$randomtoken.'" />', $content, -1, $count);
        // If at least one input has been added, add the csrf_token value in the $_SESSION and replace the content
        if ($count)
        {
            Session::set('csrf_token', $randomtoken);
            // Echo the new content
            ob_end_clean();
            ob_start();
            echo $content;
        }
    }
    return;
}
// This method checks if a form has been submited and if the csrf token is given and valid
public static function checkCSRF()
{
    // No form submitted
    if (!isset($_POST))
        return;
    // CSRF detected
    if (!isset($_POST['csrf_token']) || $_POST['csrf_token'] != Session::get('csrf_token'))
    {
        // 404 ? 403 ? 200 + error message ?
    }
    Session::forget('csrf_token');
}
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While trying to add an easter egg on my framework, I saw this answer : Stack Overflow returning HTTP error code 418 (I'm a teapot)?.

Since it looks like there is no "correct" way to handle CSRF, I thought it could be a fun thing to do. Upon detecting a CSRF attack, my framework now sends a HTTP 418 header with a nice ASCII art of a trolly teapot.

So I mark this question as answered, because there's no real best practice (yet ?) and anything would be OK.

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