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Top 3 Security Challenges of Node.js Development

Node.js has many benefits. But to take the best from this technology, consider security issues you may face.

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Node.js development results in building fast and performant solutions. For more than 10 years, this technology has been finding its appreciators all over the world. In this article, we will review Node.js characteristics and strengths. We will also discuss the security risks associated with this technology and look for ways to solve them.

Node.js Overview

Node.js is an open-source server-side technology developed in 2009 by Ryan Dahl. It was built on Google’s V8 JavaScript Engine. This engine powers the work of the Google Chrome browser. Yet, V8 JavaScript Engine can work independently of Chrome. As the official definition of Node.js indicates, it is a platform for building scalable and fast solutions.

The characteristics of Node.js, such as event-driven approach or non-blocking technique, make this technology lightweight and powerful. It is suitable for developing applications that process vast amounts of data in real-time and run via distributed computing. Building an application with Node.js differs from developing an app that runs in a browser. Although both are based on JavaScript, the two experiences completely differ. Node.js works based on the CommonJS module system, while the browser functions using ES Modules.

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Node.js Benefits

Almost every software development company offers Node.js development services. Because of the powers Node.js gives, this technology becomes the first choice of software engineers. Here are some of the strengths of this technology:

  • Asynchronicity

Node.js library uses APIs that are asynchronous. Such APIs cannot be blocked, which means that the server does not require an API to return data. After the server makes a new API call, it moves to the next API but gets a notification response from the previous one. It is possible thanks to the event-driven mechanism of Node.js.

  • Scalability

Node.js uses event looping, making the server highly scalable and performant. Unlike traditional servers such as Apache HTTP Server, Node-based servers respond in a non-blocking way. They apply a single-threaded program allowing the server to process a large number of requests.

  • Speed and No Buffering

In terms of code execution, Node.js is considered a very fast technology. Moreover, solutions built with Node.js do not buffer data. They present the output in the form of chunks. It increases an apps’ speed and performance. Consumers get the output quicker and do not need to wait for the operations competition.

3 Security Concerns of Node.js

Node.js is an open-source technology, and this is why you should pay particular attention to the security risks. The thing is, open-source environments obtain security challenges from the open-source components. Static and dynamic code analysis does not work in this case. The only way to detect vulnerabilities is to review the dependencies imposed by the package manager index files. Let’s review the top three Node.js security challenges you may face.


CSFR, or Cross-Site Forgery Requests, are the requests targeted at end-users. CSFR makes users execute unnecessary or insecure actions on a platform. The goal of the CSRF attack is to modify the state of requests through the hands of a user whom a website trusts. A common result of CSRF attacks is sending external insecure links via mail. For example, a user transfers money using a link provided in an email. CSRF attack changes this link, and the money is transferred to another place.


Cross-site scripting (XSS) is another way to attack Node.js-based solutions. XSS presupposes malicious code or script injection. For the injection, attackers use the end user’s browser. If there are gaps in user input encoding, the risks of XSS attacks increase. Other users view malicious data scripts, which leads to data leaks. To minimize XSS risks, use encoding techniques that include encoding frameworks. Before sending untrusted data to the user’s browser, these techniques will translate it into a safe model.

Session Management

Cookies allow for the identification of returned users. User behavior on a platform and the actions they take are stored in the form of cookies. For example, without session cookies, people would not be able to store the chosen items in a shopping cart and proceed with their order later. Yet, default cookie names increase security risks as these names are easily recognized and can be used by attackers to threaten your solution. Express-session cookies boost session management and add extra security.

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Security Solutions

As you see, encoding frameworks, express session cookies, anti-forgery tokens boost the security level of your solution. But apart from anti-forgery tokens and the abovementioned, there are two general ways to boost security.

Make Sure that You Use Secure Authentication

There are a lot of tools for ensuring secure authentication. These include auth0, jwt, and many others. Every solution has its pros and cons but they cannot guarantee 100% protection. Secure authentication with the help of tokens lets your platform identify a user and then decide whether to give them access. Building your solution with Node.js, you get the chance to integrate server-side authentication tools into your platform. Node.js developers can do it manually with the help of NPM (Node Package Manager) packages. Also, Node.js allows for the cloud integration of secure authentication tools.

Use the Updated Version of Express

In most cases of Node.js software development, software engineers use the Express.js framework. Yet, the drawback of Express lies in the fact that it has no security considerations. That is, the older version of Express you use, the more security risks you may face. Update the Express version regularly. Add HTTP headers to your application. For this purpose, use Helmet — the collection executing 11 header-based systems.

In Conclusion

To take the best from Node.js and cut security risks, check the dependencies of your product and open-source package license. As an extra level of data protection, use various security tools and audits. Another way to make your application secure is to hire Node.js development professionals who will take the responsibility for data security and maintenance. Using these three pieces of advice will prevent data breaches and ensure that your application will be safe.

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