8 Best Security Practices for Node JS That Every Web Developer Should Know

Nowadays, web security is the most demanding field. Because the majority of servers are connected to the web, businesses are paying more attention to their security. It is majorly used as a backend server for web applications. An insecure app has more chances to get exploited by a hacker in one or the other way. 

Node.Js is known and loved for its speed and flexibility. It is a cross-platform, back-end Javascript runtime environment that executes Javascript code outside a web browser. The developers use Javascript to write command-line tools for server-side scripting to produce dynamic web pages. 

It is a distributed development project and was earlier governed by the Node.js foundation. However, it has now merged with the JS Foundation to form the Open JS Foundation. Node.Js allows the creation of servers and networking tools using javascript and a collection of modules that manages multiple core functionalities. 

It brings event-driven programming to web servers and allows the development of fast web servers in Javascript. It connects the ease of a scripting language with Unix network programming. Experts think that this is the right time to invest in Node JS for several reasons. For instance, it improves productivity, merges well with microservices, and is known for offering high performances. 

Whether you use or don’t use security platforms, understanding the security threats that your apps may suffer from should be the best practice of every developer. Before understanding the security best practices, let us know the features of Node.js and its significance. 

Features of Node.JS

1. Single-Threaded

It uses a string model for occasion circling. It is non-blocking, which means functions are delegated to the event loop and are executed by different threads. The reaction from these occasions could achieve the server quickly. 

2. It Uses Javascript

This is an important part of Node.JS from the engineer's perspective. The advancement in Node.JS is less demanding for a designer who knows JavaScript. 

3. No Buffering 

The applications never support any information. They share the information in pieces. Node.JS is only cross-platform, but when developed with the proper structure, it can be packaged into an executable involving its dependencies. 

4. Synchronous Code Execution

Non-blocking code execution is difficult to code in comparison to code that runs in a straight line. If anyone blocks the loop with a complex synchronous operation, no function can be performed until it is done. 

5. Offers High Performance 

V8 JavaScript Engine merges Javascript code into the machine code. This improves the speed of code execution and supports the non-blocking input-output operations. Furthermore, it also manages multiple requests at the same time. 

Best Security Practices for Node.JS Apps

One of the major advantages of using Node.Js is its feature to install additional modules. Today, it has become easier for small and large businesses to use security tools and to assist developers with the code. 

Here are security practices for Node.JS apps that developers should follow for securing Node.Js applications. 

1. Run Node.JS as a non-root user

The majority of Node.Js apps don’t need root access and could run without root privileges. A user should be able to access the information that he/she needs, which means granting access to a user could leave the application to attacks. Creating a non-root user and then running the process on the user’s behalf by using the flag u username. Through this, you can bake the non-root user into the Docker image. 

2. Use Strong Authentication 

Having improper authentication could be considered the most common vulnerability. This could be because several developers think about authentication as security. One solution is to use authentic solutions like OAuth and others. When you are creating passwords, ensure that you don’t use the Node.JS built-in crypto library. 

Also, remember to limit failed login attempts and not to tell if the username is correct or not. Instead, it should return incorrect credentials. If this is done properly, it can enhance the security of the application instantly. 

Using two-factor authorization can also keep your passwords secure. This creates an extra layer of security and doesn’t allow users to log in without credentials. 

3. Keep a record of vulnerabilities

With several open-source packages available for Javascript, it becomes easier for an attacker to access several applications.  Keeping a record of multiple versions and licensing of packages is a difficult task. 

Therefore, it is important to keep dependencies in check. The solution here is to check available tools like synk or npm to track vulnerabilities (if any). Package managers can also help to block these outlets and locking packages installed. 

4. Use Transport Security Layer (TSL)

Using TSL becomes important if your app deals with sensitive data. Before data is shared between the client and server, TLS encrypts it so that there is no middle man attack. This type of attack compromises the integrity of data in the application and is carried out when anyone works over a WIFI network. 

In this case, avoiding Node.JS from being directly exposed to the internet could stop these attacks. It is recommended to use TLS to prevent any type of attack. 

5. Deserialization

Deserialization is a process of converting the object into a data format that can be restored in the original format. Insecure deserialization allows deserialization and execution of objects through remote code execution. 

The attackers can change the application by executing remote code on application classes, causing a change in behavior during serialization. To stop these attacks, the team sometimes uses cross-site request forgery (one-click attack). The CSRF checks if the incoming token matches the earlier message sent and rejects the tokens that don’t match. 

6. Logging and Monitoring

Logging and monitoring are interlinked with security. The goal is to make systems secure from attacks and unauthorized users. It is an ongoing process and needs logging and monitoring. To check illegal activities monitoring logs could help you detect if something is wrong. When you log, you don’t get information to understand about the third parties and hackers. 

7. Implement HTTP Response Headers

Common attacks can be avoided by using additional security-related HTTP headers to your application. Mechanisms like cross-origin resource sharing would improve the security of API. However, using modules like helmets add more headers to secure the application. 

8. Don’t Publish Secrets to the NPM Registry

While working with the NPM registry, there is a greater chance of publishing secrets like API keys or other passwords on the public registry. In this case, use files property in the package.json that specifies the list of files that are to be included in the package to be created. 

You can also use the dry-run argument to publish command to see how a computer file format tarball is created without publishing it to the registry. 

Benefits of Using Node.JS

Have you ever wondered why Node.JS is the preferred choice of web developers for developing web applications? It has become a perfect choice for several industries, including IT, the health industry, and others. Let us read the benefits it offers to web developers. 

1. Offers High Performance for Real-Time Applications 

Unlike other platforms, Node.JS is single-threaded and processes concurrent requests without clogging RAM. It breaks Javascript functions into machine codes and with speed. It provides better performance and uses V8 Javascript Engine to execute Javascript code. 

2. It Offers Easy Scalability 

Another advantage of using Node.Js is its scalability. The developers find it easy to scale applications in multiple directions. Furthermore, it offers the option of adding resources to single nodes during the scaling of the application. 

3. It is Easy to Learn

Javascript is one of the easiest programming languages to learn. Thus, it becomes easier for web developers to start using Node.JS for applications. It is a single programming language and thus consumes less time to work with it. 

It doesn’t need any other server-side programming language and makes the deployment of web applications easier because the majority of web browsers support Javascript. 

4. Lightweight and Extensible

It is based on Javascript and can be executed on the client-side and server-side. Also, it supports the exchange of data using JSON and is lightweight in comparison to other frameworks. 

5. Handles the Request Simultaneously

Node.JS provides the option of non-blocking I/O systems and helps you to process several requests simultaneously. The system can handle the request handling better than other frameworks and gets support for commonly used tools. 

Limitations of Using Node.js 

While Node.JS benefits developers in several ways, it also has certain limitations that developers should know before using it. 

1. API is not stable

The major problem that developers face while using Node.JS is the change in Application Programming Interface (API). The API doesn’t remain stable and has several incompatible changes. 

2. It Does Not Have a Strong Library Support System 

Javascript doesn’t support a robust library system in comparison to other programming languages. Thus, the users are forced to take the support of the library for executing multiple tasks such as XML Parsing and handling database operation. 

Final Words 

Securing web applications are important. However, certain restrictions prevent businesses to properly execute code at the given stage. Therefore, it is important to consider security at every level when you are designing a web application.

Node.Js is supported across several cloud hosting programs like Google Cloud Platform, Joyent, and more. It operates on a single-thread event loop and supports thousands of concurrent connections without incurring the cost of thread context switching. 
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