Controller actions are protected from Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) attacks by including a token in the rendered html for your application. This token is stored as a random string in the session, to which an attacker does not have access. When a request reaches your application, Rails verifies the received token with the token in the session. Only HTML and JavaScript requests are checked, so this will not protect your XML API (presumably you'll have a different authentication scheme there anyway). Also, GET requests are not protected as these should be idempotent.

CSRF protection is turned on with the protect_from_forgery method, which checks the token and resets the session if it doesn't match what was expected. A call to this method is generated for new Rails applications by default. You can customize the error message by editing public/422.html.

The token parameter is named authenticity_tokenby default. The name and value of this token must be added to every layout that renders forms by including csrf_meta_tagsin the html head.

Learn more about CSRF attacks and securing your application in the Ruby on Rails Security Guide.

Namespace
Methods
F
H
P
V
Included Modules
Instance Protected methods
form_authenticity_param()

The form's authenticity parameter. Override to provide your own.

# File actionpack/lib/action_controller/metal/request_forgery_protection.rb, line 105
def form_authenticity_param
  params[request_forgery_protection_token]
end
form_authenticity_token()

Sets the token value for the current session.

# File actionpack/lib/action_controller/metal/request_forgery_protection.rb, line 100
def form_authenticity_token
  session[:_csrf_token] ||= SecureRandom.base64(32)
end
handle_unverified_request()

This is the method that defines the application behavior when a request is found to be unverified. By default, Rails resets the session when it finds an unverified request.

# File actionpack/lib/action_controller/metal/request_forgery_protection.rb, line 84
def handle_unverified_request
  reset_session
end
protect_against_forgery?()
# File actionpack/lib/action_controller/metal/request_forgery_protection.rb, line 109
def protect_against_forgery?
  allow_forgery_protection
end
verified_request?()

Returns true or false if a request is verified. Checks:

# File actionpack/lib/action_controller/metal/request_forgery_protection.rb, line 93
def verified_request?
  !protect_against_forgery? || request.get? ||
    form_authenticity_token == params[request_forgery_protection_token] ||
    form_authenticity_token == request.headers['X-CSRF-Token']
end
verify_authenticity_token()

The actual before_filter that is used. Modify this to change how you handle unverified requests.

# File actionpack/lib/action_controller/metal/request_forgery_protection.rb, line 75
def verify_authenticity_token
  unless verified_request?
    logger.warn "WARNING: Can't verify CSRF token authenticity" if logger
    handle_unverified_request
  end
end