Six Tips for best practices to secure your NodeJS web application

NodeJS security Tips

With the advent and coming of the Internet into the popular and public space, there are as many hackers out there as there are articles written on how to protect yourself against them.
Companies are trying to maintain a one-step-ahead-always policy (as they should, since it will negatively affect their business if their website gets hacked).
In fact, this becomes even more important if the business is website-only (where they don’t have any physical stores present anywhere).
We need to formulate secure coding practices that we can follow to avoid security issues. Here are 6 essential and crucial security tips for improving Node JS application development:

Don’t use eval:

Eval can open up your application for code injections attacks. It also permits the execution of JavaScript (JS) code dynamically at run time. The hacker can place malicious JS code, which affects performance as well as the security of your application, into user input that might not expect it.

Another way of misusing eval are the following expressions which use eval in the background:

– setInterval(String, 2)
– setTimeout(String, 2)
– new Function(String)
Those functions which are running during real time, when hacked using malicious code can affect the permissions on the page. Essentially this means that you’ve made your application vulnerable to all kinds of threats. One of the kinds of attacks is an XSS attack.

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Always use strict mode

When you place your entire application or just a single function in strict mode, what you are really doing is allowing for safer features of JS to be used. Another benefit is that what otherwise may be silent errors are changed into throw errors. This helps you in figuring out where the bug came from.

It plays a crucial role in identifying what is considered a set of ‘stricter, safer’ features of JS.

While it doesn’t work for block statements, the strict syntax can be used for the entire script or as mentioned above, just a function. Get ExpressJS Experts from here

Handle errors carefully

While it might not seem like a big deal to show stack traces, it can reveal intriguing details to a hacker, who can then exploit the issue.

After an error occurs, your application could display sensitive details about itself. If you provide debugging information to a hacker, that could result in accidentally displaying vulnerabilities that otherwise would not be known.

Generally speaking, you should not give out debugging information resulting from the code that generates the errors. This is considered not good practice. You should never show what caused the errors to the users, who might otherwise be an hacker, looking to create problems for you and your application.

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Set up the required HTTP headers for security reasons

You need to implement what is called Strict Transport Security. These are connections which are secure on the server. What happens is that the server tells the browser that it will only interact with it using a HTTPS (secure protocol) and not HTTP.

X-Frame Options which allow you to declare whether embedding is allowed on other external pages. This means that your application is safe from clickjacking where the malicious website can trick you into clicking a link (intended for browsing the top level page) that redirects you to another page.

X-XSS-Protection which enables the Cross-site scripting (XSS) filter built in so when it is enabled and when a XSS attack is detected, what happens is that the page is prevented from displaying, thereby stopping the attack

X-Content-Type-Options prevents browsers from sniffing a response that is something other than the content which is given at the initial stage. By disallowing it, the browser is prevented from interpreting something that is not what it seems.

Content-Security-Policy prevents a wide range of attacks, including XSS and other cross-site injections

Proper session management
There are certain flags that must be set for a cookie:
Secure: With this attribute, the browser’s cookie is sent only if the request is over HTTPS (secure protocol)

HTTP Only: With this attribute, attacks, including XSS, are prevented since the cookie cannot be accessed through JS.

Set cookie scope

Domain: With this attribute you can check if the URL requested matches the domain server. If it does not, an error occurs. If the domain matches (or subdomains), then the next attribute that will get checked is the ‘Path’ attribute (follow next in the list)

With the Path attribute, you can check if the cookie is valid for the URL Path that is specified. If the two match (domain and path match), then the cookie gets sent as part of the request.

Expires – With this attribute, you can set persistent cookies since the cookie does not expire unless deleted or gets past the expiration date (of the cookie).

So these are the absolutely 6 essential security tips that will keep your business online without having to worry about hackers (at least not as much as they would otherwise dictate). Each is important in their own right. Having explained it, we want to highlight that there are security leaks in any kind of technology and we are not singling out Node JS. In
fact, for back end development, Node JS is great technology that can be utilized to build robust applications that can withstand any kind of attack that hackers have at their disposal.
It is important to lead the charge against hackers and their unethical practices. More important than just security, is the damage that can happen if your clients’ data is in wrong hands (few or public).
Node JS (though relatively new) helps security-wise and also development-wise. No doubt, the technology, when the code is written the right way (without any bugs), it can really help your company handle huge amounts of user data that would otherwise become unmanageable
We’ve outlined the security tips that are important to you. Now how you choose to implement the development practices is totally up to you.

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By Ashok Rathod

Life is all about solving problems. Ashok is a software developer, technology enthusiast, founder, and director of a reputed software development company. Eager to help brilliant minds, and entrepreneurs with MVP ( Minimum Viable Product ) development, and technology consultation. Ashok is an engineer, a strategist, an investor, an architect, and a blogger who love to share about technology.

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