How to Secure Web Application From Common Security Threats?



December 14, 2022


December 14, 2022

Summary: React.js is the most in-demand framework used today for building web applications. It is simple to use and its declarative approach adds extra flexibility to UI development. Though the framework is robust and has few attack points, it is still vulnerable to security slips.   

So, if you are building a React web app, understand how to secure React web applications from potential security threats. Also, get familiar with the essential guidelines for building a secure website with React.js.


React.js is the open-source JavaScript framework for building front-end web apps. It is used by more than 7.4 million websites and 40 million developers worldwide. 

Every day different web applications are visited by millions of people for communication, eCommerce, healthcare, financial, and for many other services. As people are using web apps for their day-to-day work for different reasons, they are passing their sensitive information while accessing the app services.

However, any vulnerability in the web app can give access to sensitive information to attackers and that's why it's essential to take necessary precautions while building a web application. 

Up to date, there is no web app or any technology that has complete invulnerability to security threats; every day a new security vulnerability that goes unnoticed gets cropped up. That's the reason web apps require continuous improvements, maintenance, and regular quality checks. 

Let’s find out more about the common security threats and how to avoid them by following the best app development practices. 

Common security threats to the React.js web application

Here is the detail about the most common security threats to your React.js applications. 

1. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

It is a client-side vulnerability where hackers inject an XSS code into the web application to steal users' and visitors' session cookies. The browser thinks that the script injected is legitimate and the script is injected as a part of the application. Though React.js offers built-in defense against XSS, they are still not 100% effective. 

2. SQL Injection

XSS is sometimes confused with SQL injection (SQLi). However, SQL injection is a code injection technique used to attack database contents by inserting malicious SQL queries in the input fields. This way it allows the attacker to modify (read/write) data or even delete it.  

Though both imply malicious code injection, XSS steals users' data making them vulnerable while SQLi targets the complete app itself.

3. Broken Authentication

Authentication plays an important role in developing secure web applications. Even if the app has two-factor authentication, there is still the possibility of some security breach that exposes the user's data to broken authentication attacks. 

4. XML External Entity Attack (XXE)

The XML External Entity attack is targeted with XML parsers. It occurs when the weekly configured parser falls victim to the XXE injections. And with the XXE, a perpetrator may fall for the CSRF or DDoS attack exposing confidential data. 

5. Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF)

In Cross-Site Request Forgery, a perpetrator crafts an email or web page and tricks the victim into sending a malicious request. It inherits the identity and the privilege of the victim to perform an undesired function. 

The attackers exploit the link and automatically include any credentials associated with the site, such as user session cookies, IP address, Windows domain credentials, and so on. As a result, when the user authenticates the site, it will have no way to distinguish between a forged request and a legitimate request. 

How to avoid these threats with React security best practices

1. Protect React app data from XSS and SQL Injection attack

Protecting React app data from  XSS isn’t a one-step process. So to safeguard React applications against XSS attacks, anticipate them early in your React code base. For that, you can define a set of rules and guidelines to ensure that the code written by your team is not prone to XSS attacks.  

Here are some rules that you can define to avoid an XSS attack.

  • Always render data through the JSX and let React handle the security concern.
  • Validate data that flows to your application from the server or any third-party APIs.
  • Don’t mutate DOM directly, instead use innerText instead of inner HTML.
  • While using dangerouslySetInnerHTML make sure you are sanitizing all your data before rendering it to DOM. 
  • Avoid writing your own sanitization technique, instead use libraries for sanitizing your data that fits well to your use case.

2. Prevent Broken Authentication

There are several ways that can help your organizations prevent broken authentication. A few of them are as follows:

1. Regulating session length:

The web app must have a way to automatically log off after the period of inactivity, it avoids the risk of the hijacking session ID. Also, the web app must be able to issue a new session ID after every successful authentication, these ids must be invalidated once the session is completed. 

2. Following   OWASP recommendations

Here are the top recommendations you should follow to prevent broken authentication.

  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Automatically reject weak passwords and allow only strong ones
  • Apply breached password protection mechanism
  • Secure password storage by encryption hashing and salting to protect it from Brute force attacks
  • Implement a strict credential recovery mechanism

3. Preventing React app from XXE attack

If your application has an endpoint that parses XML files, the attacker could send a specially crafted XXE injection to the server and obtain sensitive data. 

XXE attacks can be prevented by setting up your system against potential vulnerabilities and strict rules for getting user permissions. You can follow the techniques below:

  1. Avoid implementing the processing of XML unless it’s a critical application requirement.
  2. Avoid using libraries that support entity replacement.
  3. Keep your JavaScript libraries updated.
  4. Safelist known external entities to minimize the risk of exploits.
  5. Avoid serialization of sensitive data, and use JSON for data serialization.
  6. Make sure your XML file upload validate incoming XML using XSD validation.
  7. Patch and upgrade all XML processing codes and libraries in your app.
  8. Use the SAST tool to detect XXE in the source code. 

4. Prevent Cross-Site Request Forgery Attack

There are two ways to prevent a CSRF attack- First is to check the headers for validating the incoming request origin. This way the client needs to form the same HTTP URL as a server. Also, avoid allowing cross-origin requests. 

The second way is to check for the encrypted token which should be provided with the request. If the check is successful then the transaction can be completed as normal. 

How does DhiWise help you to build a secure website faster?

Securing React applications can be frustrating whether you are building an app from scratch or using any LowCode platform. However, with DhiWise React builder you can keep your web app up to date, and here is how.

  1. The platform lets you build an app with a module-based approach.
  2. It is integrated with Storybook, so you can build UI components in isolation.
  3. Gives full flexibility to UI customization
  4. Provide smart code editor with error checks and real-time previews
  5. Enables you to pair web apps with Google Authentication
  6. Simple API integration and customization feature
  7. Generates code with proper code standards followed and formatting is done, with the managed hierarchy for app files and folders.
  8. The development environment has fast interactive UI test runners with built-in support for coverage reporting.
  9. Its live development server warns about common mistakes.
  10. Hassle-free updates for the integrated tools and libraries with a single dependency.

Moreover, DhiWise also provides other features such as GitHub and GitLab integration, prebuilt web app templates, and Vercel deployment

Looks amazing right?

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up with DhiWise and start building your next React application with DhiWise web app builder. 

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