No `Referer:`, no embedding

Hi,

We use Discourse embedding for Jekyll at New ROOT Web Site! - ROOT - works like a charm! Unless - the browser is suppressing the Referer: header, in which case we get a 400 Bad Request. Try yourself - if you switch to a private Firefox window (which suppresses referrers) then embedding is broken. Same for Safari which seems to be a bit stricter on handing out referrers.

I cross checked by looking at https://root-forum.cern.ch/embed/comments?embed_url=https%3A%2F%2Froot.cern%2Fblog%2Fnew-web-site%2F in a Firefox private window which gives me a HTTP 400; then editing the request to add Referer: https://root.cern/blog/new-web-site/ - and the 400 turns into a 200 happiness.

We do have “embed any origin” enabled. We have comments for exactly one embedding site. Is there a way we can make that work?

Cheers, Axel.

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Yes, I can reproduce that.

It’s interesting that embedded comments at https://blog.codinghorror.com/the-cloud-is-just-someone-elses-computer/ work without issue in a Firefox private window. Could the issue be related to the domain? Your blog is on root.cern and your form is on root-forum.cern.ch.

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Hi Simon,

Thanks for looking at this! It could very well be related to the difference in domain names: I could imagine that browsers are providing referrers for a request to the same domain, but not to a different domain. But while that’s interesting I don’t yet see what we can do to fix this - we won’t be able to use root.cern as the forum domain, and that cross-domain embedding seemed a key and super useful feature… Is this simply at risk these days, given improved privacy, or can you think of a way out?

Something I might want to try is reverse proxying from root.cern/forum to root-forum.cern.ch. That way, the embedding can be done as if it’s on the same host, and we keep a referrer…? I’ll be back :slight_smile:

Cheers, Axel

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Hi,

I now have a way simpler solution. It’s something that should probably be called out in Embedding Discourse Comments via Javascript :

For cross-site embedding, in the embedding pages, add either

  • <meta name="referrer" content="strict-origin"> with Path Allowlist set to /.* (because no path will be provided), or
  • <meta name="referrer" content="no-referrer-when-downgrade"> with the actual Path Allowlist.

As mentioned in Referrer-Policy - HTTP | MDN, “There is effort from browsers in moving to a stricter default value,” and Discourse embedding relies on the old default for cross-host embedding.

Cheers, Axel.

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Given that this is going to be the default browser standard from Chrome 85 onwards (A new default Referrer-Policy for Chrome: strict-origin-when-cross-origin), should we look at an alternative here?

Can we accept requests which match all of the following three conditions

  • Request contains both discourseEmbedUrl and Referer
  • The referer is set to the origin of the discourseEmbedUrl
  • The discourseEmbedUrl matches one of the of the embedding rules

I think passing the discourseEmbedUrl would be easy to do for a majority of users.

Just a warning, Tejas - AFAIK without the meta tag, Safari and Firefox / Private suppress the Referer header completely. What you suggest might work for Chrome >= 85, but adding the meta tag seems more robust / general and I suspect is sufficiently trivial for most embeddings?