The Internet has become part of our routine for all purposes, such as Communication, Education, Finance, Transport, Entertainment and more. In this case, we are highly active on the Internet, which tends to be at high risk for cyber-attacks and threats. We are vulnerable when we are surfing the Internet.
The Google stats indicate 97 cybercrimes per hour, with a victim every 37 seconds. Every second, 2 Internet users are suffering from data leakage. In 2021, the user count increased to 6.  
This data illustrates the intensity of vulnerabilities on the Internet. To enhance the security features in the Application, Network, and Data, Node.js offers developers a wide range of options.  
The article will narrate the top 10 Node.js security practices to prevent cyberattacks, threats and risks.  

  1. Setting Up Logging & Monitoring 
  2. Strong Authentication Policies 
  3. Avoid blocking the event loop 
  4. Secure Error Handling 
  5. Avoid Data Leakage  
  6. Restrict the request size 
  7. Validate the user inputs 
  8. Ensure Secure Deserialization 
  9. Security Linters & SAST Tools 
  10. Run as a Non-Root user 

1. Setting Up Logging & Monitoring 

To maintain consistent security in Node.js, Logging and Monitoring are mandatory. Monitoring the Logs of the application can analyze what is happening in the application.  
Some of the recommended modules for Logging and Monitoring activities: 

  • For streaming, Node.js possess internal modules, such as Winston, Bunyan, and Pinto, Toobusy.js, which leverage manual efforts that automate logging and monitoring.  
  • These can be used to manage uncaught exceptions and logging requests.  
  • The logs could also be fed into an intrusion detection or intrusion prevention system. 

2. Strong Authentication Policies 

Strong Authentication is another critical factor in enhancing Node.js security. The possibility of security breaches is high if the authentication system is weak. The Node.js developer has to focus on high-level and Robust Authentication policies for web applications to prevent security breaches.  
Some of the strong authentication policies; 

  • Implement two-factor or multi-factor authentication to get rid of weak passwords and enhance login credential security.  
  • Some pre-defined authentication systems exist, such as FirebaseAuth, OAuth, and Okta enhance strong authentication connections.  
  • Instead of using the built-in crypto library of Node.js, developers can use BCrypt and SCrypt libraries.  
  • In specified scenarios, limit the failed login attempts that external users or attackers might do and never through the error message such as username or password is incorrect.  
  • Focus on mandatory standard security certifications to enhance high security. 

3. Avoid blocking the event loop.  

The single-thread event-driven architecture of Node.js is not extremely unsafe, but things can get a bit complicated when CPU-intensive JS operations are carried out. 
The EventLoop reverts the client as soon as the new client connection establishes with the app. The process is similar for all the connections when every request passes through the EventLoop. If the current EventLoop gets blocked, it will break the chance to establish connections for new and existing clients with the app. 
This blocking process causes threats even for regular expression is resolved. This block in the event loop leads to the possibility of high-security vulnerabilities. 
Steps to Bypass the blocking of the event loop:  

  • The developers can effectively assign callbacks to IO-blocked events, which run the callbacks asynchronously.  
  • A single non-blocking function can be used to write many interdependent operations. 

4. Secure Error Handling: 

The developer has to focus more on handling errors in an application and preventing unauthorized attacks. If the attackers figure out the application’s vulnerabilities, they will send bulk requests, which crashes the application or a Denial of Service. 

Tactics to handle the errors:  

  • If any error is left unhandled within an asynchronous attack, that error cannot be handled even by Express routes.  
  • The error object can be attached to the asynchronous call’s first argument, which ensures all the errors are handled within the callback.  
  • Wrap express routes and catch clause support effectively to prevent displaying or leaking sensitive information.   
  • Load Balancer, Cloud Firewall or Nginx are the significant components that can be extensively used to restrict the attacks.   

5. Avoid Data Leakage: 

Attackers have a high chance of interrupting and accessing the hidden data in the backend. As a Node.js developer, the most common conflict is Data Leakage. While passing the information in the front end, prioritize the essential information to bypass this conflict. 
Ways to Bypass Data Leakage: 

  • Before implementation, verify and validate the risks using Third-party services such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS, or GDPR.  
  • Ensuring consistent tracking of network access and inspection of network security. 
  • Focus on sensitive data and execute strong authentication security policies.  
  • Implement and Enhance more Data encryption techniques to encrypt the data. 

6. Restrict the request size: 

As we have already seen about DOS attacks which shoot by attackers in a bulk manner, Node.js developer has to limit the request sizes to prevent malicious activities and attacks. If the payload is bigger in size, it’s tedious for a single thread to process the requests. This will lead the attackers to send bulk requests that crash the server memory, malfunction the application and occupy the disk space unnecessarily, resulting in DOS.  

Ways to limit the request sizes: 

  • The Node.js developer can restrict the sizes by accessing the raw body and external tools, such as Firewall and Elastic Load Balancing (ELB).  
  • Express Body-parser can be configured to accept small-size payloads.  
  • Express Middleware can be accessed to restrict the requests for some specified content types and validate against the corresponding content types addressed in the request headers. 

7. Validate the user inputs:  

XSS attacks or Cross-Site scripting are the attackers injecting the scripts in the client side to breach the security. The attacker can achieve XSS attacks if the user inputs are not properly validated. The attackers utilize this situation to force the server to execute malicious code, causing threats in Node.js apps.  

Ways to Restrict the XSS attacks: 

  • To validate the user inputs through the Node.js package managers like DOMPurify. 
  • Leverage tools or output encoding techniques like XSS filters, Validatorjs, HTML sanitization, and other general libraries.  
  • Enforce the content security policies in the browser and the code base to set up the httponly flag. 

8. Ensure Secure Deserialization: 

Node.js doesn’t have advanced versions of object serialization. The attackers can utilize these serialized objects to transfer payloads. Enhance high integrity and user authentication checks in place and sanitize the deserialized data to bypass these attacks. CSRF attack simply causes certain state changes in the server, such as changes in the user data, password, and email id.  

Ways to enhance Secure Deserialization: 

  • Utilize the anti-CSRF tokens in Node.js applications.  
  • Access the SameSite flag on session cookies. 
  • Prefer to use custom request headers in all Node.js applications. 

9. Security Linters & SAST Tools: 

It’s tedious to track and fix all the vulnerabilities in the code. Linters & SAST Tools are automation tools to fix the vulnerabilities in the application.  

Ways to track vulnerabilities: 

  • For the development and component testing process, utilize Static Analysis Security Testing. It will improvise the development process, cut down the modifying costs and upgrade the application if there are any future issues.  
  • Lint tools are used for automatic testing of source code, figuring out the faults and alerting the vulnerability to the developer. Some linting tools are available to test the source code, such as ESLint, TSLint and JSHint. 

10. Run as a Non-Root user  

To run the Node.js application as a root user with unlimited privileges are available. It might cause unexpected threats to an application’s privacy and security if it doesn’t access properly. By executing the code as a non-root user, you limit the attacker’s access to sensitive information.   

 

Over the years, security vulnerabilities and threats have cost millions of dollars from companies. It’s tedious to prevent every attack, but we can enhance the security measures, policies and authentications to secure the data at most.  

 

With this article, you might gain knowledge regarding the best practices of Node.js security to enhance data and network security. Keep following for regular updates on technical-related posts.