Node JS Security Best Practices To Enhance An App’s Security

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  • By Surya Sharma
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  • clock 10 minutes MIN READ
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  • calendar Updated: July 22, 2022

To maintain the security of your Node.js applications, we have highlighted some of the best practices and technologies you can use.

Open-source technologies are now the top choice for the global developer community regarding web application development or any other development project. However, developers who use these open-source tools continue to have security as one of their top concerns.

One such technology used by developers to create web applications is node.js. It is intended to be 100 percent secure. However, it would be best to use numerous third-party open-source packages through NPM (Node Package Manager) when creating any web application using Node.js.

Top Node.js security risks

1. Code injection

The primary duty of an application developer is to write secure code. However, you cannot ultimately ensure the security of your codebase while utilizing open-source software.

Any attack in which the attacker inserts code into the system and forces the application function to run is called a code injection attack. The attacker investigates the carelessly managed and dubious data to learn more about your codebase.

A standard code injection attack that most people run into while developing software is SQL injection. Here, the attacker manipulates the backend database using malicious SQL code to obtain sensitive data that is not typically visible. This security issue is frequently caused by incorrect input and output data validation.

2. CSRF (Cross-site request forgery) attack

You shouldn’t disregard the frequent Node.js security vulnerability known as Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF). CSRF attack compels the authenticated users to submit a request to a web application against which they are already certified. It gives hackers access to private information and jeopardizes the security and integrity of web applications.

Attackers that utilize CSRF primarily want to alter the application’s state by tricking users into thinking they’ve received a message or email. Since they need users to change their email addresses and send money, CSRF attacks have the potential to harm Node.js apps seriously. CSRF attacks against admin-level users might jeopardize the security of the entire web application and must be countered.

3. Default cookie names

Since every user action on a web application results in a cookie being kept in the underlying infrastructure, cookies assist websites, or web apps in identifying a specific user.

Shopping carts in eCommerce websites are the most typical examples of cookies. The cookies will remember the objects you select on the website, and when you proceed to the checkout page, the shopping cart will display those objects.

However, the issue with Node.js development is when the developer chooses the standard cookie names rather than changing them to meet the needs. Attackers will likely attack and quickly gain access to user input inside the rich ecosystem as they know the default cookie name.

4. X-Powered-By header

Many programming languages, by default, employ the non-standard HTTP response header known as the X-Powered-By header. You can enable or disable this header using server and configuration management approaches.

However, developers can forget to remove the X-Powered-By header, which allows hackers to access specific crucial data.

This header identifies the technology used in app development and allows attackers to take advantage of numerous security flaws related to that specific technology.

5. Brute-force attacks

One of the most frequent threats or dangers in any Node.js security checklist is brute force assaults. To gain access to sensitive data, the attackers attempt to use random passwords generated at login endpoints of web applications.

The goal of brute forcing is to try millions of different password combinations until you find the one that works for the online application. You must fortify your authentication system for Node.js applications to prevent brute-force attacks.

To deal with such unsafe scenarios, you can also restrict the number of login attempts from one IP and use bcrypt.js to protect the passwords saved in the database.

6. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attack

Cross-site scripting assaults are critical dangers you must manage while developing Node.js web applications. Owing to a lack of input validation for hostnames given by Domain Name Servers, cross-site scripting (XSS) allows attackers to insert client-side scripting involving modified JavaScript code into the web app.

The end user’s browsers cannot determine whether the codebase is trustworthy; therefore, an attacker can use XSS to send them a malicious script. As a result, they automatically execute it, allowing attackers to access any cookies, session tokens, or other private data. These scripts can also change any HTML page’s content, making XSS extremely dangerous.

With a sufficient understanding of Node.js risks, let’s break down its best practices to help you prevent such situations.

Best Practices for Improving Node.js Security

Clients have previously expressed worry about the security of specific backend frameworks, such as Node.js.

Sadly, there isn’t a simple solution to this problem because even the right tools and technology can be abused or compromised. Even if it is challenging to predict dangers, it is always preferable to adhere to the best practices.

Thus, it is best to hire nodejs development company for more information.

Node js security best practices are:

1. Keep an eye on monitoring and logging to avoid irregularities

Regular logging and monitoring can prevent many security flaws that could cost the business money. Instead of waiting for an incident to be reported, most CTOs advise doing regular penetration testing that can aid in spotting anomalies.

Modules that are suggested for usage in logging and activity monitoring are:

  • Streaming is made possible via internal Node.js modules like Winston, Bunyan, and Pinto. These can be utilized for resolving uncaught exceptions and logging requests.

  • The intrusion detection or intrusion prevention system (IP/IPS) could be fed from the logs.

  • Monitoring the event loop can be done with modules like too busy-js.

  • When the server is busy or the CPU usage increases, monitoring modules additionally keep track of response time.

2. Use flat Promise chains to prevent layers of nesting.

Asynchronous callbacks are considered one of Node.js’ best features compared to the earlier, more fundamental callback functions. With more layers of nesting, this trait, however, can become one of the worst nightmares. For instance, if there are more than 10 layers of nesting, errors happen, which could lead to results being lost within the asynchronous callbacks.

The best way to deal with the nesting issue:

  • Flat Promise chains can help you escape callback hell.

  • Flat Promise chains may manage programming semantics.

  • The detection of faults and exceptions can improve the flow of programming.

3. Manage errors to stop unauthorized attacks

The efficient operation of a program and prevention of unauthorized assaults depend on how mistakes are handled. You must be aware that, in the event of an error, the application may show or disclose private information to the client, such as stack traces. Once attackers know the program’s weakness, they may submit several requests to cause a denial of service or the application to crash.

A real-time geospatial application like Uber prevents this by sending frequent notifications to passengers and drivers for simple connection via matchmaking and road mapping. Uber discovered that Node.js’ error handling is as faultless as it can be with internal components and third-party solutions. The framework permitted quick code deployment and adequate error analysis, protecting the application against repeated false requests.

What steps may be taken to manage errors effectively?

  • Even though express routes are renowned for managing problems, the app may even crash if an issue is not handled within an asynchronous callback.

  • An Error object can be supplied as the first argument to an asynchronous call to ensure errors are handled in the callback.

  • Express routes should be wrapped with a catch clause to prevent exposure to sensitive information.

  • To reduce DOS assaults, one can employ tools like a load balancer, cloud firewall, or Ngnix.

4. To prevent data leaks, send only the required information.

First, ensure total control over the data supplied to the front end. One of the most frequent issues that Node.js developers encounter is data leaking. Most of the time, all data for a particular object is delivered to the front end, which is filtered to show restricted data. However, hackers can now access the confidential data supplied to consumers through the backend.

Here are a few strategies for preventing data leakage

Before utilizing third-party services, continually assess the risk involved. See to it that the services adhere to security regulations like HIPAA, PCI-DSS, or GDPR.

Keep a close watch on network security and periodically monitor network access.

The most stringent security procedures should be used to protect the most sensitive data.

To encrypt all the crucial data, employ a variety of encryption methods.

5. To avoid DOS attacks, limit request size

To prevent attackers from sending out large request bodies, Node.js must ensure that request size is constrained. It’s crucial to remember that the request processing by a single thread becomes more challenging if the payload is bigger (body size).

As a result, attackers send a lot of queries, which can cause the server to run out of memory, the application to fail, or even to run out of disc space and cause a Denial of Service.

Prevent DOS attacks by

  • Using raw-body and external tools like the firewall and ELB to reduce the request size.

  • Modifying the express body-parser so it will accept small payloads.

  • One may request size limitations for particular content using express middleware while validating the data against the requested content type.

6. To maintain application stability, avoid using risky functions.

Interestingly, specific Node.js modules and functions are categorized as “hazardous” functions. These pose a significant risk to the application’s platform security. The Eval function and the Child Process function are the two frequently hazardous functions that experts would advise against.

Modules may perform not only functions but also compromise security. VM module, setTimeout function, execScript, setInterval function, and setImmediate function are a few of these modules and functions.

7. Set up Cookie flags for session management

Session management is an essential component of online applications that supports security upkeep and site-wide request processing. Cookies are used to send any data relevant to session management over a web application, and improper use of HTTP cookies is unquestionably a prescription for problems. Using the domain attribute to confirm the cookie’s scope is also crucial. This tells if the domain matches against the domain server in which the URL is requested.

How can we prevent security risks and session vulnerabilities?

  • Configure cookie flags such as httpOnly, Secure, or SameSite.

  • By setting the option to “Secure,” cookies are only delivered when HTTP is used for communication.

If you’re looking for nodejs development services, you must hire a development company.

Wrapping Up

Since Node.js frameworks and libraries allow engineers and app developers to create complicated and unique systems, they expose those systems to several risks. App developers can build more secure systems for users if they stay on top of current Nodejs security procedures.

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