Best Security Practices in Nodejs
By Harikrishna Kundariya, CEO, eSparkBiz
In this article, we will articulate the basics of the Node.js system, its relationship with the security system, and the best practices you should follow to ensure the safety of the system. Stay with us.
What is NPM and its relationship with security issues:
NPM or Node.js Package Manager is an open-source package system that is considered one of the largest in the globe. Due to its massive offerings of packages, sometimes the developers are also unaware of the results of the interlinkages between different packages. Therefore, sometimes the security may get compromised.
Through the NPM audit system, Node.js starts to monitor the security aspects. Through its moment-in-time security assessment, it generates a security report on an NPI audit which includes all details regarding the security exposure and suggests the possible solutions.
Why Do Node.js Projects Have Security Issues?
Due to the open-source elements in the node.js framework, it is vulnerable to security issues to some extent. And you must comprehend the NPM index files thoroughly to detect the open-source elements. The interesting part is that the open-source indexed files do not have the reused open-sourced elements. In addition to that, the tools which are available to detect security issues like static and dynamic code assessment are not capable enough to identify the exposures of the open sources perfectly.
Another aspect is that, to mitigate the market requirement, the open-source community often reuses open-source projects to increase the development speed so that they can deliver the product faster. This gives the opportunity to the open-source as well as to the dedicated Node.js developers to incorporate functions and methods into the files. This results in the inclusion of licensing terms other than the original Node.js license.
Top 10 Node.js security best practices
Closed logging and monitoring:
Every developer ensures the security and safety of the product. But it is important to follow a strict procedure to make sure the system remains safe. Irregular logging and monitoring are some of the major issues related to the security of applications based on Node.js frameworks. Therefore, it is always suggested to do a regular penetration test of the system and rectify it before it causes a massive accident. Close monitoring of unauthorized and irregular logging is the best practice to keep the system clean and safe.
Avoid layers of nesting:
Increasing layers of nesting can be a risky activity. Though asynchronous callback is an amazing feature of Node.js, it is found that if you increase the number of nesting by more than ten, the application encounters some errors and as a result, you may lose the data when an asynchronous callback occurs.
Managing uncaught exceptions to avoid security loopholes
Whenever Node.js encounters any uncaught exception, it terminates the total threads and prints the current stack trace. Though this is not a case of security risk, some code rejections which are unattained may cause security loopholes. The reason behind the uncaught rejection is excess focus on unnecessary features which are often handled in an improper way. And this is a severe threat to the safety of the system.
Handle errors to prevent unauthorized attacks:
Error handling is very important to keep your system safe and secured. Whenever you see any error request from the client, try not to share the details like paths, libraries with the clients as it may carry sensitive information that you do not want to reveal. Whenever hackers find a piece of weak and sensitive information, they might try to crash the system by sending repetitive requests. Another way of saving Node.js from crashing is to tap the route with the catch clause so that attackers do not find any malicious requests.
Implement Access Control on Each Request:
Another best practice to handle the Node.js securities is to introduce an access control mechanism for the requests. Surely you do not want everybody to get into the admin access of your application. Therefore, setting administrative control to the access can save your application from malicious attacks.
There is a risk associated with the insecure deserialization which is known as CSRF (Cross-site Request Forgery) attack. This usually includes deserialization and application of buggy objects through the implementation of remote code or API. Attackers use tricky techniques and social engineering methods such as sending links through emails to users, and users are forced to use unwanted actions on valid applications. Through this process, hackers try to modify email ids forcefully and then transfer funds.
Therefore, the primary action you should take is to restrict hackers from using Cross-site Request Forgery. Node.js has facilities like anti-forgery tokens which are usually used to stop one-click attacks, check the authenticity of the user, and more.
Execute HTTP Response Headers:
Express.js. was initially not developed keeping the severe security concerns in mind and therefore, this framework is prone to malicious attacks. Hence, to keep your product safe, better use the updated version. Adding another security related header to your platform can make it more secure. There is a secured module of it, known as Helmet, to enhance the reliability.
Regularly Automatic Scanning:
One of the major facilities that Node.js provides is the array of libraries and modules that you can install. As this is open-source, it is not advisable to completely rely on the codes which are written by others. Often when you use those codes in your project, it may cause severe chances of infiltration. So, what is the solution? The best practice is to do regular automatic scanning. This can not only enhance the safety and security of your application but also helps you to detect the issues which can cause huge damage to your product.
Avoid data leaks:
During the process of application development and maintenance, we often share a lot of data and information to the front-end. But to make the process reliable, there must be a control mechanism. Without a structured and controlled way of sharing, hackers get enough opportunities to breach the data from the back-end. Adopting the best practice to share only the related information makes sense. To avoid any data leak, you need to extract all the information from the database.
While summarizing the entire discussion, we can see that there are several best practices that you should adopt to make your product more secure from malicious cyber attacks. With the advancement in IT technology, hackers are searching for opportunities that can seriously create big issues. Node.js is a widely used framework and therefore, the risk associated is more. Using the above-mentioned best practices surely helps you to bring more security to your Node.js-based application development.
About the Author
Harikrishna Kundariya, a marketer, developer, IoT, ChatBot & Blockchain savvy, designer, co-founder, Director of eSparkBiz Technologies @SaaS Application Development Company. His 10+ experience enables him to provide digital solutions to new start-ups based on IoT and ChatBot.