Whether an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) or a large application – the demand for using Node.js to power a wide array of web applications is gradually increasing, thanks to its robustness and scalability. Naturally, web developers’ concern to solidify security measures is increasing as well.
To offer top-notch security in the Node.js ecosystem, Node Package Manager launched the NPM audit some time back. Since Node.js codebase comprises numerous packages, developers may not know how various direct and indirect dependencies of the package are affecting security. The audit assesses the dependency tree of any project and creates a report. It comprises data related to security exposures in the dependencies and provides suggestions for effective troubleshooting.
Below, we will outline some of the best Node.js security practices recommended and followed by the experts of website development services. Let’s get started.
How to Secure a Node.js Based Web App – Best Practices
Fix Access Control Vulnerabilities
Broken access control vulnerabilities point to the issue when a user can access various resources or perform some actions that there were not supposed to. For instance, the admin dashboard should not be accessed by normal users. Broken access gives the attackers a chance to hack the application at ease.
To overcome this vulnerability, manual functional testing is required for the modules that require user permissions. Access control rules and middlewares should be implemented on the server-side so as to reduce the risk of manipulating access permission from the client-side by JSON Web Token (JWT) authorization tokens or cookies.
Further, API rate restriction and log access control should be set up. It will alert the admin to take proper step for reducing attack.
Avoid Data Leaks
If you don’t want to compromise the security of the application, here’s the golden rule – don’t trust everything that comes from the front end. Similarly, pay attention to what is sent from the backend.
It is easy to send all data for a particular query/object to the frontend and then filter what to display there. But you never know how an attacker can easily access all the hidden data sent from the backend.
For instance, say you want to feature a list of the winners of a lucky draw contest. You can execute a SQL query to get the details and send them to the frontend. Then, you can filter the data and show only their name and user ID. However, all the data that you don’t show (such as phone number, email address, etc.) can be accessed via the browser developer console. And it can lead to a data leak.
That’s why the experts at a leading website design company recommend sending information to the frontend that is essential. In case you need to showcase the names and user ID, retrieve just that from the database. Of course, it takes a little bit more time and work, but that’s worth it.
HTTP Response Headers
Common attacks can be avoided simply by adding security-related HTTP headers to an application. Usually, common mechanisms like CORS (Cross-Origin Resource Sharing) can enhance the security of the API but we suggest you use modules like Helmet. It will add more headers and thereby secure the application.
Quick fact: Helmet can introduce eleven distinct header-based security mechanisms with a single line code:
It protects a web app against man-in-the-middle attacks, cross-site scripting attacks, and more.
Logging and Monitoring
Logging and monitoring, no matter how simple they sound, can enhance the security of a website and thereby meet your objective. It underlines the fact that ensuring security is a consistent process.
Monitoring logs and other metrics will help you to find out any issue that needs to be resolved. There are several tools that capitalize on existing data to offer precise layers for upgrading system protection. Data is crucial for assessing and identifying potential exposures and invasions of the app. You can create various routines that implement accordingly based on a few pre-decided system behaviours.
Prevent XSS Attacks
Cross-Site Scripting or XSS allows the hackers to inject client-side scripts into web pages. These scripts have a high potential to cause data breaches. Further, the hackers can use the JS code. This is resulted from not validating inputs from the users.
If the users’ input in the search field does not get discovered in the database, it goes back to them in the old form. Using the same concept, a hacker may put JavasScript code instead of a product name in the search bar and thereby can access a similar JS code.
Validating users’ inputs are the best way to go. You can use tools like Jade engine with inbuilt coding frameworks or other output encoding methods to prevent XSS attacks in Node.js.
A broken, incomplete, or vulnerable authentication system may have serious consequences. Often, the developers find their application is secure and robust but in reality, the hackers can bypass unstable authentication processes.
To reduce the chances of security issues, don’t utilize the inbuilt crypto library of Node.js while making a password. Also, ensure to restrict failed login attempts. Further, it’s better to implement proper session handling policies. For that, executing 2FA authentication is highly recommended. Done appropriately, it can improve site security.
Regular Scanning & Security Linters
Node.js ecosystem has various libraries and modules to install and you never know how a threat lurks in. It’s time to leverage automation. You can run regular automated security issue scanning. It will help you to point out dependencies with common vulnerabilities. You can also opt for NPM analysis for standard monitoring.
If you want to catch common security loopholes while writing code, use linter plugins such as eslint-plugin-security. The security linter will remind you whenever you use unsafe coding practices (say, non-literal or eval regex expressions).
We know ensuring security in Node.js based applications is not as easy as it sounds. It requires extensive experience and expertise. If you don’t want to get involved in this technological nitty-gritty, consider engaging professional web application development services. The experts will take care of your application.
Hope you have found the article useful. Feel free to share your thoughts with us.