Security Vulnerabilities in React and Standard Practices to Overcome them!

Security Vulnerabilities in React and Standard Practices to Overcome them!
Released in 2013, React, a robust front-end web library, became quickly popular amongst technical professionals worldwide. Today, React is extensively being used by giants like Netflix, Facebook, Instagram, BBC, Whatsapp, and many more, owing to the myriad advantages it offers, as listed below:
  • Component Reusability
  • Routing and Templating
  • Speedy Rendering
  • Good Flexibility
  • Easier Learning Curve for Complex Procedures
  • Synchronization of app and interface status
  • SEO-friendliness
Along with these goodies, React is also considered to be a highly secure technology due to the availability of several in-built protective mechanisms. Yet, some vulnerabilities can occur in the React apps and lead to unpredictable security leaks; which the React app development services must be aware of.
So, this blog will take you all through some common security flaws in React and guide you with the potential solutions as well. Let’s get started.

React App Development: Security Vulnerabilities and their Remedial Measures

SQL Injection Attack

This is another type of attack where the attackers can play with the user’s data regardless of their knowledge and approval. The attackers can extract sensitive user data, create new user credentials, replicate fake credentials, and thus, get admin authorities for accessing the server. SQL injections are of several types viz. time-based, logic-based, error-based, etc.
Possible Solution:
  • Using an SSL certificate from authorized sites
  • Validation of API call functions for particular API schemas
  • For time-based SQL injection, conducting timely validation of the schema for getting rid of the suspicious code injections

Cross-site Attacks

Cross-site scripting attack is a common yet serious security flaw that React Apps have to go through. It occurs when the attackers or hackers trick a website by executing an arbitrary JavaScript code. These attacks are of two types- stored attack and reflected attack.
  1. Stored cross-site attack: in these, the attacker accesses the server and extracts the data from the client’s web page when the code is executed.
  2. Reflected cross-site attack: in these attacks, the attackers place a link with sensitive user information that will run in the browser.
Possible Solution:
Cross-site scripting can be performed only when the code execution is done in a browser with some particular instructions. So the mark-up that holds the instructions for code execution needs to be disabled by the React app developers.

Server-side Rendering Vulnerability

In case a React app developer renders an application from the server-side, the server-side rendering attack is likely to take place. It can lead to the unknown monitoring of the application, data leakages, etc. This issue is quite difficult to detect when context. Data is not found properly.
Possible Solution:
  • utilizing the serialize JS with NPM module for escaping the rendered JSON
  • cross-checking and monitoring regularly if any issues persisting in server-side data validation are reported and worked upon

Execution of Arbitrary Code or Commands

When the attackers run the arbitrary codes or commands on a particular process, application can get highly vulnerable. It usually takes place in the software or the hardware that processes the arbitrary code. ‘Arbitrary code execution exploit’- a special program is used for this security issue and if it gets exposed to public products and services, it can expose the data of all the concerned individuals who buy and use those products and services.
Possible Solution:
  • making sure that the React app only reads the tokens that are previously stored while developing the app
  • ensuring that the system can only create relevant headers by authentication of the request by making a request to the server

Inadequate End-to-End Encryption

Lacking end-to-end encryption is the major cause of security lapses and data breaches occurring in the React apps. The inclusion of third-party APIs also leads to these issues affecting the safety and privacy of data.
Possible Solution:
  • utilization of private and public-key encryption
  • utilization of the encryptjs and cryptojs libraries
  • using asymmetric algorithms like RSA for encrypting the primary key of a react app

‘Insecure Randomness’ Issue

This issue takes place when the attackers add a malicious code that begins with JavaScript or a link in the apps. This script runs in the browsers as soon as the users click the planted link. Thus, attackers get the admin authority and they can pull sensitive data or alter the data and hence makes the application very insecure. Also, they get control over the uniform resource identifier and several elements in the apps are vulnerable to threats.
Possible Solution:
  • conducting integrity investigations for inspecting and avoiding the injection of suspicious links and codes
  • creating links with the usage of whitelisted protocol and using HTML entities
  • employing strict restrictions to create code objects that can avoid insecure randomness
  • isolating the code from other codes

Significant Security Measures for React App Development

Diverse security vulnerabilities can occur in the React apps and identifying their reasons can be impossible at times. Hence, the React app development services can proactively follow some preventive actions as below:
  • Install and configure Linters to automatically detect the security lapses in code and provide remedial advice.
  • In the past, some versions of React Library possessed high-risk vulnerabilities, however, they have been removed in the latest versions. Hence, it is a good practice to use the updated version always.
  • Some dependencies and third-party components may be more prone to security issues and so using their latest versions is recommended.
  • Zip Slip issue crops up due to the overwritten arbitrary files along with the directory transversal issue. For this, the developers can either use fixed versions of the archive processing libraries or can utilize a dependency vulnerability checking tool like Snyk.
  • Library codes are used for threatening operations like inserting HTML into the DOM. Developers should avoid libraries that use unsafe patterns like ‘innerHTML’ and ‘dangerouslySetInnerHTML’ or other unvalidated URLs.
  • It is necessary to avoid suspicious or dangerous URLs. For avoiding URL-based script injection, use validation, and ensure that the used links are ‘https:’ or ‘http:’

Key Takeaways:

In today’s digital era, the security of software apps holds monumental importance. Security lapses can result in data leaks and high-risk cyber-crimes. So, it is essential to consider the security pitfalls right from the initial stages of React app development. The developers and the quality analysts as well should keep an eye on such vulnerabilities and eliminate them from time-to-time.
All this requires not only the knowledge and experience of the development teams but also needs attention to details and thoughtful decision-making when these vulnerabilities crop-up.
Also, have a glance at our blog here for gaining insights on general security tips in mobile applications.
Here ends our blog!
I hope it was insightful and will benefit several React app developers in their projects.
Please comment in the below section and let us know about any other security vulnerabilities you faced in React app development.

Top 8 Tools for Debugging React Native Applications!

Top 8 Tools for Debugging React Native Applications!
Debugging an application is the most essential part of the complete React Native development process before the application is pushed to the production phase. This is true for other technologies as well. Debugging involves thorough checking of the code and helps in the early detection of error conditions. Fixing these errors or bugs during the development process, instead of fixing them in the production stages can be highly economical for every React Native development company.
So, how does the debugging take place in React Native? Well, thanks to the availability of a wide range of React Native debugging tools that help the developers debug their code efficiently in a short time.
This read is a brief guide for you, where we will be exploring the most popular React Native debugging tools used worldwide. So let’s quickly get started.

Most Efficient Debugging Tools for React Native Developers

Chrome DevTools

‘Chrome DevTools’ is usually the first name that comes to the mind of a React Native developer for debugging the code of an app. Being powered by JavaScript, this tool enables the debugging of both- web apps as well as mobile apps. The React Native framework supports this tool through its remote debugging abilities by default.
So how does this tool work?
When your React Native app is running on Android Emulator and you have to access the in-app developer menu, press ‘Cmd+M’ on Mac or ‘Ctrl+M’ on Windows. When the app runs on a real device, simply shake the device. Now, a menu will appear and you need to click on “Debug JS Remotely” to open the Google Chrome debugger. After this, press ‘Command+Option+I’ on Mac or ‘Ctrl+Shift+I’ on Windows to open Developer Tools. You can now use console statements and debug the app. You may view your code by clicking on the Developer Tools Sources tab and open-sourcing the files. From here, you can add breakpoints and easily debug the app using the ‘Chrome DevTools’.

The Developer Menu

The developer menu comes with a plethora of options for the developers to do various things, as given below:
  • Reloading option for reloading the app
  • Enabling Hot Reloading for watching the changes accumulated in a changed file
  • Debugging js remotely for opening a channel to a JS Debugger
  • Enabling Live Reloading for allowing the app to automatically reload when the save button is clicked
  • Toggle Inspector for toggling an inspector interface. It enables the developers to inspect a UI element present on the screen along with its properties. This interface has some other tabs too, which include a tab for performance and for networking that show us the HTTP calls

React Native Debugger

This is a stand-alone desktop application that works on Linux, Mac, and Windows and one of the most recommended debugging tools. It can be integrated with the other two tools- React’s Developer Tools and Redux DevTools, thus giving you the best of both tools. This combination doesn’t require any setup and can be installed quickly with ease. With this combination, react native developers can get some of the best features as below:
  • Profiler: Identify performance issues by getting a flamegraph with components
  • Elements: for examining the styles of the elements, editing them, and instantly viewing the results in the simulator
  • Console: for examining different errors and warning messages
  • Network: for checking and recording network requests
  • Sources: for debugging JS, setting breakpoints, and walking through the code.
  • Memory: for detecting any memory leaks

React Developer Tools

Due to the two reasons mentioned below, it is considered one of the best tools for debugging React Native.
  1. This tool allows the debugging of React components.
  2. Its new version also allows debugging styles in React Native and also works simultaneously in the developer menu with the inspector. In this version, the developers can debug and employ the style properties and without even reloading the app, they can instantly see the modifications implemented in the app.
So how to get started with this tool?
You need to use the desktop app for debugging React Native with this tool. It can be installed locally as well as globally in the project by using the below command- “yarn add react-devtools” or npm- “npm install react-devtools –save”
Now you can start the application by running the command- “yarn react-devtools” which will launch your application.

Reactotron

This open-source desktop app was designed in 2016 by Infinite Red. This tool enables the inspecting of the apps quite effortlessly. It is available for various operating systems like Linux, Mac, and Windows. It offers amazing features like:
  • state tab
  • React Native tab
  • timeline tab for tracking app events and Redux actions
  • connections for running several devices simultaneously and quickly switching debugging

Redux DevTools

Redux DevTools is also a standalone tool and a state container for JS applications. It is meant for both- React Native and React JS. It is used for common state management and allows easy inspection between actions and their reflections on the data store. Redux DevTools allows using redux debug components directly into the applications. This tool comes with several useful features such as Chart, Slider, Inspector showing real-time actions, Dispatcher, State tab, Action tab, Diff tab, Log Monitor, Test tab, Export/import, etc. You can start using this tool by installing the Redux Devtools Extension to the firefox or chrome browser.

React Native CLI

This tool is majorly used for the development of React Native apps but also used as a debugging tool at times. React Native CLI helps to access some relevant information about the dependencies and libraries used in the app. This information can be then used for debugging some bugs that take place due to a mismatch of different versions of tools being used for your app development.

Nuclide

Nuclide is also an open-source tool and comes with the support of a strong community. It can be added as a plug-in on top of Atom- a renowned IDE built by Facebook. It offers some outstanding features like auto-complete, jump-to-definition, inline errors, etc. Also, it provides services like Hack development, Remote, and JavaScript development, working sets, built-in debugging, task runner, mercurial support, etc.
So, our blog comes to an end with this.

Final Verdict:

Apart from the tools mentioned above, there are several other React Native debugging tools like Flow, Expo, Ignite, Visual Studio Code, etc. that can be considered by the React Native development services for their projects. It depends on what tool seems right for your project requirement, what your budget and time considerations are, and what your developers are convenient with. You may even go with a combination of some of these tools. And last but not the least, hiring skilled and experienced React Native developers also impacts the debugging process.
We hope this read was insightful!
Do share your knowledge and experiences about other React Native Developer Tools in the comments section.
Here is a detailed list of the top-notch React Native developer tools widely used for serving various purposes like development, debugging, testing, etc. in the React Native development process.
Also, here are some of the UI component libraries used in React Native for building world-class apps.