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Best Tips for Improving Laravel Security

Best Tips for Laravel Security

Laravel is one of the most popular PHP application frameworks. It has a great development community, its artisan console is easy to use, the Eloquent ORM is amazing, and its built-in authentication is incredible. However, as with any application framework, you have to give time for the reality of cybersecurity to set in. Don’t get caught up developing and launching great features without paying attention to security best practices!

This blog post will discuss some best practices to help keep your Laravel application secure.


Recommended Security Improvements for Laravel Applications

1.) Always update your Laravel installation

First and foremost, always be sure to keep your software up-to-date. This includes the framework itself and any of the third-party libraries that you are using that were installed via composer. New security vulnerabilities are discovered all the time, so it is important to make sure that you are always taking advantage of security patches.

Related: If you are working a lot with PHP, check out these 10 Best PHP Code Security Scanners!

2.) Reduce vulnerabilities from CSRF *

CSRF (Cross-Site Request Forgery) occurs when an attacker tricks the user into taking action on a web application in which they’re already authenticated. The goal is to trick your users (or automated bots) into sending actions as if they were them instead of you.

A common way this can happen, for example, would be by using email or messaging platforms that support image embedding. These images will contain hidden form data generated with JavaScript and submitted automatically without the user knowing what just happened!

3.) Implement the Laravel authentication system *

Laravel’s authentication system is one of its strong points. It provides an easy way to authenticate users and manage permissions, but it also has some security weaknesses. One of the main problems with Laravel’s authentication system is that by default it doesn’t invalidate sessions when a user logs out. This can be easily fixed by setting the session timeout to 0 in the .env file.

4.) Protect against XSS (cross-site scripting)

This is a vulnerability that allows attackers to execute script code in the context of your application. XSS occurs when user input gets included in an HTML page without being validated or encoded first. This can lead to session hijacking, phishing attacks, and much more.

The best way to prevent this from happening, if you are using Laravel Blade templates, is to take advantage of the triple curly braces when possible: {{{ }}}. This was implemented back in Laravel 4, and allows the value to run through the e() helper function, which is a shortcut to the PHP htmlentities function.

5.) Protect against SQL injection

SQL injection is a vulnerability that allows attackers to execute SQL statements in the context of your application. This can lead to the loss, theft, or destruction of your data. The best way to prevent this from happening is through the use of prepared statements. Laravel provides an easy way to do this with its object-relational mapper (ORM), called Eloquent.

This seems like an obvious suggestion, but we’ve taken over Laravel web applications in the past that used unsafe database queries outside of Eloquent.

6.) Filter & validate all user input

One of the most common vulnerabilities that developers make is not validating user input. This can lead to injection attacks, such as cross-site scripting (XSS). Laravel provides a simple way to filter and validate all data coming into your application through filters for different types of information. You should check out the Laravel validation documentation for the latest recommendations.

7.) Invalidate sessions *

There are a few ways to ensure your Laravel application’s security and one of the most important things you can do is manage sessions. The framework of an app should be protected at all costs because any big change in its state may leave it vulnerable to attack factors.

By automatically destroying and invalidating your session, the Laravel Security developers are ensuring that you’re safe.

8.) Store password using hashing functions *

When you create a new user account in Laravel, the framework will use Bcrypt to hash your password before storing it. Hashing functions are designed so that they’re very difficult to reverse, which makes them great for passwords because users don’t have to remember random strings of characters.

9.) Check SSL/TLS configuration *

SSL certificates are also important in the security of your application. If you’re using an older version, it’s best to update so that you can provide a safe and secure connection on both sides (browser-server).

10.) Implement rate limiting

Rate limiting is a simple and effective way to prevent malicious users from overloading your application with requests. Laravel provides an easy-to-use rate limiter for this purpose, which you can attach to any request in the event that it reaches a certain threshold of hits per minute.

11.) Log everything

It’s always a good idea to log everything that happens in your application, including errors. This can help you troubleshoot issues and also provide valuable information if something goes wrong. Laravel makes it easy to log all of your application’s activity with its built-in logging functionality. You can check the Laravel logging documentation here.

12.) Send all available security headers *

You can also improve the security of your Laravel application by sending all available security headers. These are headers that provide information about your application and help to protect it from various attacks. Laravel provides a way to easily send these headers with its built-in middleware.

X-Frame Options

In addition to sending all available security headers, you can also improve the security of your application by preventing it from being injected into other sites. This is done through something called an X-Frame option – a header that prevents your site from being put inside another website iframe.

X-XSS-Protection

Another important security header to include is the X-XSS-Protection. This prevents your application from being open to cross-site scripting attacks, which are some of the most common on the web today.

HSTS

The HSTS header is another great way to improve the security of your application. This header tells browsers that they should only communicate with your site over a secure connection, which can help to protect against man-in-the-middle attacks.

Content Security Policy

This header tells browsers which types of content they should allow loading on your site, helping to protect against things like cross-site scripting and other malicious attacks.

X-Content-Type-Options

This header prevents a browser from trying to sniff the MIME type of a file you’re linking. This can help prevent things like content-type-based attacks, which are commonly used by hackers and cybercriminals today.

13.) Have a content security policy *

One of the best ways to improve the security of your application is to have a content security policy. This is a set of rules that tells browsers which types of content they should allow loading on your site. By using a content security policy, you can help protect your application from many different types of attacks.

14.) Cookie protection

Cookies are a common way for hackers to steal information from users. You can help protect and secure cookies by setting HTTPOnly and Secure flags in your application. In the config/session.php file, you’ll want to set the following:

'secure' => true
'http_only' => true

By setting the “secure” option to true, session cookies will only be sent back to the server if the browser has a HTTPS connection. Additionally, setting “http_only” value to true will prevent JavaScript from accessing the value of the cookie and it will only be accessible through the HTTP protocol.


Final Thoughts on Laravel Security

In conclusion, there are numerous best practices you should follow to help secure your Laravel application. Most importantly, be sure you always keep your Laravel and other software up-to-date, be mindful of authentication security, always filter user data, and try to put together a plan for routine reviews of your security posture. Following these tips will help improve the security and safety of your user’s data. If you need any help with implementing improvements to your web application, consider hiring WebCitz for your Laravel development services. Thanks for reading!

Disclaimer: WebCitz, LLC does not warrant or make any representations concerning the accuracy, likely results, or reliability of the information found on this page or on any web sites linked to from this page. This blog article was written by Timothy A in his or her personal capacity. The opinion(s) expressed in this article are the author's own and may not reflect the opinion(s) of WebCitz, LLC.