Rails4, AngularJS, CSRF and Devise

I’ve been working further on my application, and run into a few challenges and issues with CSRF, so I’m elaborating a bit on my earlier post.  At some point my tutorials will be updated to deal with this, but for now this is a place holder that describes what CSRF protection does, where the issues lie, and what resolutions I’ve found to the overall problem.

Firstly, it seems that there are two general developer classes with Rails – those who are developing a Rails web application and therefore use Rails to create the pages, and those who are building an API using Rails, and seem to turn off CSRF protection and use an API key to authenticate (in a sense I see an API key as a long-lived username and password, so I’m not a big fan for applications that require strong security).

I’m living in a middle space – the application front-end is all AngularJS, and it’s calling Rails asynchronously using JSON.  But I’m still aiming to use Devise as my authentication engine, and I want to use CSRF to protect against malicious scripts that manipulate the API without the user knowing it.  The default configurations don’t really appear to deal with this situation well.

In discussing the solution, I’ll start with a simplified discussion of what CSRF protection should and shouldn’t do, and then what pieces are needed to integrate (reasonably) cleanly.

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9: Adding the teams entity, and links from clubs to team

In this portion of the tutorial we’re going to extend to the teams entity, and build the links between clubs and teams.  This means passing parameters to our list controller, and dealing with optionality.  We’ll let people create a team from within the context of a club – in which case we auto-populate the club, and we’ll let them create a team standalone and pick the club from a drop-down.

This tutorial mainly consolidates what we’ve already done, but it lays the groundwork for some more interesting functionality later, including user authentication and an editable grid.

If you’ve dropped into the middle of the tutorial, you can find the code for the previous section at github: PaulL : tutorial_8.  You can go to the index page for this tutorial, or you can hit the tutorial menu above and see all the posts in the Rails 4 tutorial.

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