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Some best practices of Node.js

Apart from building a lean and responsive user interface, having a secure application is of paramount importance. Attackers are known to manipulate through applications to access data that is beyond their reach. Attackers manipulate security flaws by posing as administrators or modifying resources they are not supposed to. 

Attackers inject API endpoints built on an open-source cross-platform such as Node.js. An SQL injection attack happens when one does not sanitize or filter what the user passes to an application. 

For example, in an eCommerce application where users purchase an item and pay online. When the payment process is complete, one sends a post request from the payment gateway to an endpoint. An attacker can get the API by purchasing a cheap item after monitoring the network logs to see the endpoints getting triggered for request and the type of payload which the endpoint expects.   

After getting the details, the attacker can simulate the previous purchase but, this time, replace it with more expensive purchases and inject the endpoint expecting the status of payment with the appropriate method and sending the exact data through it. The application is designed to believe that attacker has paid for it and generates an invoice that the attacker purchased the item.  

A simple process could have helped avoid the disaster.

Node.js security best practice

It is one of the most popular open-ended platforms because of its backend server for web applications and installing additional modules. A security point is not recommended as it gives more opportunities to attackers from back doors. More popular a platform is, attackers will look to find vulnerabilities. 

So how does one secure their Node.js applications? Some of the best practices are 

Validation of user input 

A common and popular attack is SQL Injection. It happens when the attacker can execute SQL statements on the victim's database and is caused when one does not sanitize their front end. 

It means that if Node.js back end, take the parameters from the data provided by the user and use it directly as part of the SQL statement. From the front end, if the id parameter is taken, the risk is that the attacker can manipulate the request, send SQL commands with it and wipe the entire database. So, to avoid it, one need not blindly send the parameter but validate it from values provided by the user. 

For XSS or  Cross-Site Scripting attacks, it is the same as SQL Injection. Here the difference is that instead of sending SQL, the attacker executes JavaScript code. Here also input validation from the user is required to prevent the attack.

  • Strong authentication  

The most common reason for vulnerability is a weak or incomplete authentication mechanism. Developers make the mistake of thinking that having authentication is enough, but in reality, if the authentication is inconsistent or weak, then it is easy to bypass. It is okay if one has the native Node.js authentication solution, provided a few things are ensured. One is when creating passwords, not to use the in-built Node.js crypto library. 

Also, one should limit the failed login attempts and return with a specific message such as "incorrect credentials. Secondly, it is crucial to implement the 2FA authentication. 

  • Avoid revealing too many errors.

A few things to consider when handling errors. One should not let the user know the full details of the error. It can contain full details, such as the path or library in use or secrets. It will prevent the attackers from sending malicious requests continuously till the application crashes. To avoid flooding the Nodes.js app with malicious requests, one should not directly expose it to the internet. Using a load balancer, cloud firewall, or gateway in the font of Node.js helps to rate-limit the DOS attacks one step before the attacker hits the app. 

  • Running Automatic vulnerability scanning.

The node.js system has many modules and libraries of different types that one can install. They can be used in many projects, but it also creates a security issue when the code is written by someone else, and one is not sure if it is 100 % secure. To be sure that it is secure, running scans frequently helps to check any vulnerability.

  • Prevent data leaks

As mentioned before, one should not trust the front-end and check what data one is sending. One can send all the data to the front-end but filter its visibility, but for an attacker, it is easy to get the hidden data from the backend. 

For example, if there is a list of users who have signed up for an event and sends an SQL query to get the list of users for that event, then only the front-end data will show the first and last name. The problem is when other data such as mobile numbers, email, date of birth are accessible through the browser developer console, which causes data leaks. 

To prevent this from happening, one should only retrieve the first and last name from the database. It requires more effort but is worth it. 

  • Setting up logging and monitoring 

One can think that logging and monitoring are not related to security. Still, it is not the case as one requires security right from the starting point. Keeping the system secure is an ongoing process. Therefore, logging and monitoring metrics help spot if the hackers had entered and lied undetected in the system.  

  • Use of security linters

While automatic scanning of vulnerability is there, one can also catch common security vulnerabilities when writing the code. 

Every time one uses an unsafe code, the security linters will notify it.

Avoid running Node.js as root. 

One tends to forget how Node.js is executed in the world of microservices and Docker—spinning up a Docker container and thinking that it is isolated from the host machine and, therefore, security is not correct. Using Docker does not mean one can run Node.js as root. It combines the ability to run any JavaScript code via XSS.


It is significant to secure web applications. Hence, it is often seen that tight schedules and deadlines prevent us from proper execution at each stage. It is the reason why security must be considered at every stage of the software development lifecycle, from conception to production.

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