Last updated on October 12th, 2023 at 05:15 am
Node.js is a popular framework for app development, it is significantly important to know about the best practices for ensuring security against vulnerabilities. Application security is one of the most important concerns. It is always good to follow the best practices to keep your app protected from any unexpected threats and other common threats. For the safety and security of your Node.js applications, you can follow the best practices and adopt some tools.
Market usage statistics show that Node.js is widely used and most popular framework among developers. For example, Netflix uses Node.js to expand its app’s capacity so that around 200 million subscribers can access it seamlessly. Netflix adopted Node.js framework to boost its performance and upgrade app security.
The more users mean the more security measures you need. Popularity and growth come along with certain risks. Risk of various security threats is not new for open-source frameworks. Every Node.js user and developer knows the risks well for their app and user data. In this blog, we have listed down some of the best practices and tools which your team of developers can use to enhance the security of your web application.
Best Practices for Improving Node.js Security
Perhaps, you must be wondering whether Node.js is a completely secure framework or not? Well, it comes with amazing security tools and measures which made it popular all around the world; however every web application is vulnerable to security. In reality, the risk is difficult to anticipate, it is always preferable to follow the best practices. Below are top Node.js security practices which are being categorized as application security, data security, server security, and platform security.
- Keep an eye on logging and monitoring to avoid irregularities
Irregular logging and monitoring can lead many security issues which probably can cost you a fortune. It is recommend conducting penetration tests on regular basis which will help you identify irregularities, and it is certainly a better option than waiting for an incident to be reported.
- Make use of flat Promise chains to avoid layers of nesting
Asynchronous callbacks is a great feature of Node.js, and it is a better option as compared to the previous basic callback functions. However, the biggest drawback of this feature is that it becomes tough to manage the increased layers of nesting. Now, what can be the fix of nesting problem? To fix it, you can use flat promise chains which have the potential to control programming semantics and avoid callback hell. It can further improve the flow of code by detecting errors and exceptions.
- Avoid blocking the event loop for neat performance
It is safe to work with Node.js’s single-thread event-driven architecture; however, when CPU-intensive JS operations are processed, things get a little tricky. The EventLoop sends a response to the client for every new connection, and for every incoming and outgoing request passes through the Event Loop. But the problem occurs when new and current clients cannot build a connection with the application due to the Event Loop blocking. A block in the event loop means of great risk of security threats.
What you can do to stop the blocking the event loop? Node.js developers can assign callbacks to IO-blocked events, allowing the callback to run asynchronously. Moreover, you can use a command function to avoid the block and same operations can be written in a single non-blocking function.
- Manages errors to prevent unauthorized attacks
For a smooth functioning, it is essential to handle errors and stop unauthorized attacks. During an error, application might display or leak important information such as stack traces. Hackers might send repeated requests in order to crash the application or a denial of service.
For example, to handle errors effectively Uber uses the Node.js, for easy connection, Uber sends constant notifications to both drivers and users. Further, Uber relized the framework is also capable in fast code deployment, which protects the application from constant false requests.
- Limit request size to avoid DOS attacks
An essential security concern within Node.js is to make certain that the request size is limited to avoid large request. It is tough to process the request if it is a bigger request. It is the reason attackers send large amounts of requests which leak the server memory, crash the application, or may be fill up the disk space, which interrupts the service.
- Set up Cookie flags for session management
Session management is an important part of web applications which assist you maintain security and process multiple requests over the site. Cookies are used to send any information related to session management over a web app, and inappropriate use of HTTP cookies poses the risk of threats. You can prevent session vulnerabilities and security threats by setting up cookie flags like httpOnly, Secure, or SameSite.
- Make sure that packages are up to date
To make certain the latest security updates, it is advisable that all third-party packages should be kept up to date. A third-party open-source package provides great assistance in the development process, however, you must not forget that they come along with security threats as well as they are among the top OWASP vulnerabilities.
- Avoid using dangerous functions to maintain application stability
You must know that there are some specific functions and modules within Node.js which are considered as ‘dangerous’ functions. These functions pose a threat to the platform security of the application. The two typical dangerous functions are the Eval function and the Chid Process function.
Apart from it, some modules also pose a security threat including vm module, setTimeout function, execScript, setInterval function, and setImmediate function.
- Use security linters and SAST for methodological testing
It is pretty a tough task to keep an eye out on each and every security vulnerability. Sometimes, you may overlook threats arise out of a faulty code, component, or function. Analytical testing methodologies just save you and offer a comprehensive protection by scanning and identifying programming errors that might lead to a security breach. To track the vulnerabilities, you can use the Static Analysis Security Testing for the development and component testing process.
SAST speeds up the development process and minimizes the costs of modifying or updating applications in case of any issues in the future. Lint tools allow you test code source code, find faults, and alerts for any potential vulnerability automatically. You can use some JS linting tools used within Node.js are ESLint, JSHint, and TSLint.
Some Tools for Increased Node.js Security
Now, you must have understood that security threats and vulnerabilities are a part of the frontend framework; you can follow above best practices to avoid them. Apart from the best practices, you can also use some tools to ensure security and maintain extra security from attackers and identify existing vulnerabilities. Below, we have listed down some of the tools that can be used to maintain Node.js application security.
Snyk is a powerful security tool which can help you with scanning and resolving identified issues within any container, open-source libraries, or code. The best feature of it is its real-time monitoring facility which alerts you about any specific vulnerability.
Helmet tool provides security to HTTP headers; it is generally ignored by developers which can cause leaking sensitive information to attackers. Helmet is a middleware and includes 12 Node modules and, follows the best OWASP practices, providing an enhanced layer of security for headers in Node.js.
- Source Clear
Source Clear tool helps you keep a track of third-party packages, components, and modules, saving you a lot of time and efforts. Doing it all manually is a very time-consuming activity. It uses a “vulnerable methods identification” to recognize if the vulnerable dependency is used within the node.js app. It also has a huge database which helps minimize the false positives and offer detailed reports of the threats within the program.
Acunetix offers comprehensive application security and scans the entire server-side of the application. It can scan over 7000 vulnerabilities, multi-level forms and password-protected areas of the website, ensuring delivering a secure app to its clients and users.
Retire.js is an open-source Node.js security testing tools which scans known vulnerabilities within the codes and alerts the developer about its use. It is a command-line scanner testing tool which includes plugin components and browser extensions. These plugins and extensions are updated on regular basis from various sources and gives security alerts.
Security is an important aspect of a web app development process. By following the best practice you can avoid some unexpected threats to your app security. Sensitive information leak and compromised information can harm you greatly. It is always recommended to follow best practices and use some tools for an enhanced security. Perhaps, it is not possible to avoid every attack; however your efforts towards security can protect you to a great extent and provides best results.
Naveen Khanna is the CEO of eBizneeds, a company renowned for its bespoke web and mobile app development. By delivering high-end modern solutions all over the globe, Naveen takes pleasure in sharing his rich experiences and views on emerging technological trends. He has worked in many domains, from education, entertainment, banking, manufacturing, healthcare, and real estate, sharing rich experience in delivering innovative solutions.