I see that $form['#token'] is employed in drupal_prepare_form() and drupal_validate_form() as a protective measure against cross-site request forgery.

I am wondering about the necessity of this measure on site-search forms specifically, including core's search_box() and search_form() as well as a form built from scratch in a module that similarly implements a search by feeding arguments into a view.

I have seen it mentioned (in drupal_prepare_form(), in fact, and possibly other places I can't recall) that the search forms would be a viable case in which to work around the token protection. But then, why doesn't core do so by default?

(Note: I'm not asking for help with code to work around it, as I've figured that part out already.)

2 Answers 2


I think the biggest question when judging a potential CSRF problem is whether some form of damage will be done if a user is tricked into taking the action. If there is a CSRF vulnerability that deletes a user or unpublishes a node, that would be a problem. But being tricked into executing a search is only potentially a problem in terms of the resources a search takes to execute (which is not that much). Even if the core search doesn't bypass the token, it is accessible as a GET url (search/node/keyword) so someone could be tricked into visiting that URL bypassing the form in front.

Another way to think about it is whether the action is idempotent. A search is an idempotent action (by the W3 definition, log records might be created, but that's not a big deal), so it doesn't need CSRF protection.

  • Thanks for answering this. Is the token protection on the core search just because Drupal protects all forms by default?
    – mpdonadio
    Jun 6, 2012 at 13:08
  • @MPD - yes, I believe that's the case.
    – greggles
    Jun 13, 2012 at 14:32

This seems to bring about reasons why you should never bypass #token: CSRF: Avoid security holes in your Drupal forms.

And the specific instances you've provided don't seem to warrant bypassing #token.

  • 2
    The pixeljets article doesn't support your claim (and isn't a particularly great article, tbh). IMO it is totally appropriate to bypass CSRF in this instance.
    – greggles
    Jun 6, 2012 at 11:41
  • Does #token reduce functionality in searches? I think I'm starting to understand why it would be safe, but I still don't quite get what the benefit of bypassing #token is. Jun 6, 2012 at 20:53
  • @JohnathanElmore, bypassing #token lets do AJAX login w/o needing to rebuilding search forms.
    – mpdonadio
    Jun 7, 2012 at 14:24
  • Had some link rot, new link is pixeljets.com/blog/…
    – fullerja
    May 24, 2017 at 14:42

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