Quick introduction to the XSS problem
XSS is not only about scripts. Overall it happens when attacker can break the expected DOM structure with new attributes/nodes. For example <a data-remote=true data-method=delete href=/delete_account>CLICK</a> is a script-less XSS (in Rails jquery_ujs will turn the click into DELETE request).
It can happen either on page load (normal XSS) or in run time (DOM XSS). When payload was successfully injected there is no safe place from it on the whole origin. Any CSRF token is readable, any page content is accessible on site.com/*.
XSS is often found on static pages, in *.swf files, *.pdf Adobe bugs and so on. It happens, and there is no guaranty you won't have it ever.
You can reduce the damage
Assuming there is GET+POST /update_password endpoint, wouldn't it look like a good idea to deny all requests to POST /update_password from pages different from GET /update_password?
Awesome! But no, Pagebox is a technique for the next generation of websites because of many browser problems.
Thankfully similar technique can be implemented with subdomains:
www.site.com (all common functions, static pages)
login.site.com (it must be a different subdomain, because XSS can steal passwords)
App serves specific (secure) routes only from dedicated domain zones, which have different CSRF tokens. All subdomains share same session and run same application, upgrade is really seamless, user will not notice anything, redirects are automatic.
How to add it to a Rack/Rails app
You only need to modify config.ru (I monkeypatched rails method, it's easy to do same for a sinatra app)
It fails if you GET/POST www.site.com/secure_page from www page because middleware redirects to secure.site.com (which has different origin - you cannot read the response)
It fails if you POST to secure.site.com/secure_page with www page CSRF token because secure subdomain uses different CSRF token which www doesn't know.
The demo is a basic prototype and may content bugs, here you can download the code.
There is also a subdomainbox gem. I hope to see more Domain Box gems for ruby apps along with libraries for PHP/Python apps. Maybe we should add this in Rails core, telling other programmers who cares about security the most?
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