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How to Secure NodeJS API?

Posted DateNovember 9, 2022
Posted Time 4   min Read

If you are building an API, you are most likely evaluating the pros and cons of available technologies. Sooner or later, you will surely come across NodeJS.

NodeJS helps to create stable, scalable, and backward-compatible APIs. Besides the functionalities, you can’t overlook the security risk that comes with them. When misconfigured, insecure APIs leave your companies with high-profile cyber-attacks.

Like any APIs, those developed with NodeJS come with security threats. NodeJS uses several open-source packages through Node Package Manager (NPM). Around 76% of NodeJS shops employ vulnerable packages. Ultimately, these vulnerabilities will affect the NodeJS web apps and APIs.  

So, how to secure NodeJS API? This blog highlights the 8 best practices to ensure secure API in NodeJS.

What is REST API?

REST stands for Representational State Transfer. REST API is a communication approach used in API.API enables the communication between two applications. REST is the set of rules that API follows to ensure lossless interaction. This special approach aids the integration simple and scalable.

What is NodeJS?

NodeJS is an open-source, server-side runtime environment. It is used to build highly scalable server-side apps. It includes:

  • Web applications 
  • REST API servers
  • Real-time chat applications
  • Command-line applications

It is a command-line application that runs on development and server systems. 

It bundles the V8 JavaScript Chrome Engine with other support codes, network server applications, and other tools. It enables you to run JS on the server and the browser. NodeJS is widely supported across all kinds of hardware and software architectures. 

NodeJS offers an event-driven, asynchronous I/O and cross-platform runtime environment. It enables developers to generate dynamic web content using JavaScript and server-side scripts. 

Why NodeJS REST API So Popular?

REST APIs that are written using NodeJS are known as NodeJS APIs. Building APIs using NodeJS offers the following benefits: 

  • They render speed and scalability to APIs, which have a multiplier effect on leveraging apps 
  • The standardized development processes ensure better integrational capabilities of APIs and apps 
  • Versioning and documentation of APIs are easier 
  • Pagination and filtering features reduce resource wastage and improve app/ API performance
  • The ease of development accelerates the speed of market
  • Its extensibility seamlessly accommodates customized requirements 

Potential Security Risks to NodeJS API

Nodejs security issues have consequences for your entire APIs. It is vital to detect and correct them. Here are brief of the top vulnerabilities:

  • XSS – The attackers can execute JavaScript code into the web app. The reason is your APIs fail to validate the user input properly. It potentially allows malicious actors to access tokens, cookies, and user information.
  • Injection Attack – The attacker can inject malicious code into the web page using the input validation code. Code injection results in data breaches or malware infection.
  • DDoS Attack – Attackers attempt to load your server or production environment with floods of internet traffic. Limiting this attack is crucial for the smooth performance of your NodeJS API.
  • Brute force Attack – The most recurrent attack in the Nodejs security checklist. It is all about attempting to log in with millions of password combinations.

How to Build Secure NodeJS API? 

Secure API in NodeJS

1. Adopt Node API Security Best Practices 

The most important way to secure NodeJS APIs is by adopting all security best practices in designing and developing these APIs. Some of these are: 

  • Using HTTP status codes correctly 
  • Using HTTP methods and API routes properly 
  • Using secure libraries and source code 
  • Avoiding components with known vulnerabilities

This way, you can develop secure APIs in NodeJS by design. 

2. Identify and Fix Vulnerabilities Proactively 

For building secure NodeJS APIs, developers must run automated security scans. It discovers all known vulnerabilities and misconfigurations. It must be augmented by automated and manual API security testing

Thereby, it detects logical and unknown vulnerabilities. Fixing vulnerabilities early ensures secure APIs go into production.  

3. Sanitize and Validate all Inputs

Developers must ensure that all inputs are sanitized and validated before execution. It effectively secures NodeJS APIs from injection and XSS attacks.

Choose development frameworks with built-in protection against injection attacks. Also, use libraries that enable input sanitization. Scan and monitor apps and APIs regularly.

4. Stringent Authentication, Authorization, and Access Control 

An incomplete or broken authentication is the root cause of breaches. Implement strict authentication, authorization, and access control policies to secure NodeJS APIs effectively. To this end:

  • Implement role-based, zero-trust access controls. Hence no one has unrestricted access to API endpoints and the resources they enable. 
  • Every user trying to access the API endpoint must authenticate themselves. 
  • The authorization policies should be well-defined and strict. It ensures users can’t change their permission levels. Admins cannot remove themselves. 
  • API endpoints should only be accessed via secure HTTPS connections 

5. Implement Rate Limiting 

The lack of resources and rate limiting is an OWASP Top 10 API security risk. As a result, hackers send large request bodies. That can drain your server or crash the application, resulting in DDoS attacks. By implementing rate limits contextually, you can prevent users from abusing Node APIs. 

6. Test Error Handling 

Developers tend to focus a lot on code handling while developing APIs. They do not have enough time for error handling. Developers must write tests for testing error handling. 

Ensure that you have good error coverage. Clearly define and assert expectations. Use the right tooling to write error responses if your backend doesn’t create sufficient errors for testing. Most importantly, report and document these insights from error handling tests. 

7. Set Up Proper Logging and Monitoring

For secure NodeJS API, the goal is to implement security from the beginning. But it requires an ongoing process. Some malicious actors prefer to remain undetected in your system. For such cases, referring to logging and monitoring metrics will help to spot irregularities.

8. Fully Managed, API-Specific Security Solution 

Whether you are building or adopting a third-party API, leverage a fully managed API security solution to secure NodeJS APIs. Also, make sure the solution is designed specifically for APIs.

It should be capable of comprehensively identifying all API-specific risks. Thereby you can stop the most complex API attacks in real time.

The closure

NodeJS plays a vital role in the application stack. From a security point of view, the increased usage of this framework opens opportunities for hackers to exploit vulnerabilities. Hence you should take NodeJS API security seriously.

To effectively secure NodeJS APIs, leverage the comprehensive Indusface API Protection solution!

Stay tuned for more relevant and interesting security articles. Follow Indusface on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn

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