Node.js has become extremely popular recently due to its low cost, high performance, and ease of use. However, many developers have also started using this popular platform without considering the security risks associated with it.
This blog post will focus on the top Node.js security practices that should be followed while developing applications using this framework in order to avoid being exploited by malicious hackers through various known and unknown attack vectors.
What is Node.js?
Node.js allows for fast development of scalable network programs which are typically not possible with other types of web servers due to its asynchronous event-driven architecture with non-blocking I/O operations.
Node.js Security and Best Practices
2) Injection flaws
Node.js security and best practices are important for securing your application and keeping your users safe. One way to do this is by storing user passwords securely. Passwords should be encrypted when stored in the database, and never written in cleartext, even temporarily. If you use plain text passwords, you must hash them with a cryptographically-strong algorithm before storing them in the database or anywhere else.
3) Insufficient Authorization and Authentication
There are a couple things that you should consider when securing your application, such as insufficient authorization and authentication, which are very difficult to detect but can be a serious problem for your application if not caught early on.
Insufficient authorization occurs when the user is able to access an endpoint that they shouldn’t be allowed to access, such as a debug endpoint or an endpoint that requires administrator privileges.
4) Broken Access Control
The first step to securing your application is to ensure that you are properly validating input, which includes ensuring that the user has permission to access the resource they are trying to interact with. There are a number of ways you can do this, but one of the easiest is by taking advantage of middleware which already contains methods for performing validation checks on a request before it proceeds further in the application.
5) Security Misconfiguration
This object can contain anything you want, but it is often used to specify environmental variables like DEBUG or NODE_MODULE_CONTEXTS=false. The second-most common way of configuring Node.js is through command line flags, such as –debug, –inspect-brk and -v. You should never use these flags in production because they interfere with proper error handling for crashes. Hire Node.js developers who are proficient with the security configurations,
6) Unvalidated Redirects and Forwards
One of the most common vulnerabilities in web applications is when an application allows a user to enter input into a form, submit that form with the intent of performing an action on the backend, but instead they are redirected to another page or forwarded elsewhere without their knowledge. These types of attacks are called Unvalidated Redirects and Forwards (URF) and many developers incorrectly assume that this is not a vulnerability because it relies on user input.
7) Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities
Component with known vulnerabilities is a package in the npm registry that has at least one vulnerability (out of CVEs) assigned to it. This is not always an indication of malicious intent, but it does mean that you should use caution when including this package in your project. It’s recommended that you review each component before including them in your project, even if they have been used safely by others before. If there are alternatives, use those instead. Be careful with how you handle user input:
A common cause of attacks on websites is XSS (cross-site scripting). If user input isn’t handled securely and carefully then users can inject scripts into data that is being sent to the browser. User input should never be trusted unless it comes from an authenticated source or the data type prevents scripts from executing such as JSON content or a strict Content Security Policy.
8) Tampering with Data
A malicious user might tamper with the data your application is processing, either by deleting or corrupting it. They might also create new records in your database, which will be processed by your application as if they were created from an authorized session. In either case, a hacker could make any change they want to the database and there would be no way to know that the changes came from them instead of a legitimate user.
9) Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF)
The most common CSRF vulnerability is when a user is tricked into clicking on a malicious link in their email inbox, which takes them to an authentic-looking website that they are then logged into without realizing.
The attacker can now do whatever they want with the victim’s account, such as change their password or order items in their name. One way to protect against this type of attack is by using tokens in conjunction with input validation.
We can use JWT (JSON Web Token) middleware packages like express-jwt and passport-jwt to generate tokens that are stored on the client side so that we never have access to them, but only provide them when making API requests.
This popularity has created a large attack surface for developers who use it to build their applications. As a result of this increased exposure to attacks, some security best practices emerged among the Node community over time.