Laravel Security Best Practices

Laravel Security Best Practices

Web app development is an integral part of digital businesses, and making sure that it is secure in the face of the latest threats and vulnerabilities is even more critical. Every day, hackers and malicious actors are trying to steal users’ private information or money.

PHP powers more websites than ever, and when it comes to application development in PHP, there is one Framework that stands out from the rest and that is Laravel.

Laravel is a robust web development platform known for its performance and active user community. The community is so vibrant that whenever a loophole is discovered, the core team takes care of it as soon as possible. However, as a web developer, your primary focus should be on how to secure Laravel as much as possible.

Now before you choose your host, it is better to check some aspects of that platform. So in the future, you don’t have to migrate your whole project to the new host.

Security Checks Before Choosing a Host Server for Laravel

Choose a Secure Host

When it comes to web development, choosing a good host is always tricky. If you are new, you might end up buying a shared host service that is not secure.

Always choose a dedicated server or cloud for hosting your Laravel application. Most famous cloud providers include AWS, Azure, and GCP. They spend their money in R&D so that they follow the best practices when it comes to combating the latest threats and malware.

Update to the Latest PHP Version

Updating your PHP version is one of the most critical steps in security. The PHP community always comes up with a new counter for existing threats.**
If your host has an old version of PHP, please tell them to install the latest version.

Use HTTPS for Web Applications

As soon as you install Laravel, the next step should be to install an SSL certificate. It does not matter if your web app deals with payment. You should install the SSL certificate and force your host to redirect to HTTPS instead of HTTP.

Check for Backup Facilities

Let’s say your website is hacked, and now it is redirected to other pages. What should you do? Well, in these desperate times, the backup system is needed.

You should be able to install a particular day’s backup so that your website is up and running. That is why when you are purchasing a web hosting provider, you should check out its backup service.

Best Practices to Secure Laravel Web Applications

Use the Built-In Authentication System

Laravel has its unique authentication system out of the box. It takes care of the user authentication processes and provides a clear and concise code that you can modify as per your requirements.

This safety feature can be further extended by the “providers” and “guards” functionality to secure the authentication process.

Use the Built-In Encryption

Laravel comes with an built-in encryption mechanism, and we highly recommend you use that instead of a “homegrown” solution of yours.

PHP 7.2 supports the Libsodium library. If you want to use a different encryption library, then take a look at Libsodium.

CSRF (Cross-site Request Forgery) Protection

Laravel uses CSRF to prevent fake requests and to protect against malicious attacks. To prevent requests from an unknown or malicious source, the Laravel Framework uses tokens for active user sessions.

Also, Laravel verifies the generated token with the previous token to check if both tokens match. If Laravel does not find any matches, then it ends the token request and stops the execution.
The Framework provides a Blade directive called @csrf to generate the tokens and prevents mass assignment vulnerability.
Suppose you have a web form containing a text field. Then your form should consist of @csrf token.

Code Source

Prevent SQL Injection by Avoiding Raw Queries

The Eloquent ORM in Laravel uses PDO binding to check against SQL injections. It keeps track of the misuse of SQL queries by malicious users who change the intent of SQL queries.
Using Eloquent ORM, we can prevent malicious actors from changing SQL queries. It is also one of the popular Laravel security practices.

Protection Against XSS (Cross-Site Scripting)

Cross-Site Scripting is a malicious method to access the server and enter into your app. After gaining access, the visitor who visits the malformed page will witness the script to be executed with malicious purpose.

For example, a hacker inserts the below javascript code in the comments section. If you have not secured your website against this kind of attack then it will be executed by your server and it will harm your application in an unimaginable way.

Code Source
If you forget to secure this kind of public section from which the user can enter any information, then you may be vulnerable to attacks. Laravel removes these kinds of harmful code and safeguards against XSS vulnerable attacks.

Use Mass Assignment Protection

Mass assignment is when you send the array to a server to create a model and to save the input details in the Database in a single request.

In this case, the malicious actor tries to modify one of your array fields and to manipulate the Database, and to prevent that, we use protected $fillable array property.

Laravel Eloquent ORM has the create() function that we can use to save all the data from the input in the go.

Validating & Filtering All Data

When it comes to collecting data from the user via web forms, here’s a golden rule: validate everything! Despite whether it includes your server a GET or POST request, or any other request types.

Laravel provides different validation rules and instructions that we can use to validate our inputs.

Send All Available Security Headers

Use some of the best security headers like HSTS, X-XSS-Protection, X-Frame-Options, X-Content-Type-Options, and the Content Security Policy. Ensure that they’re being configured accurately and sent in your request responses.

Keep Your Laravel Packages Up to Date

When you are working on big Laravel projects, there is a chance that you are using external or third-party packages. Now, keeping up to date with the latest version of all packages is one of the toughest tasks because you have to track every package.

To solve this problem, you can use a software services like WhiteSource Renovate. It can save time and lower the risk by automating dependency updates in your software products.

Renovate is fully customizable with a configuration to match your specific requirement. It comes with the following features:

  • It automatically updates the dependencies using convenient Pull Requests.
  • It supports several programming languages like Java, JavaScript, Ruby, Python, PHP, Go, Elixir, Docker, etc.
  • It provides extensive settings that you can customize. It will be fitting with your project workflow.
  • It supports shared presets as code, similar to ESLint shared configs.

They are providing a list of products like the following.

Whether you are working on an open-source or private project, it will keep your dependencies continuously up-to-date.
For example, if you are working on Github, then you can configure WhiteSource Renovate.

You can check out the following screenshot.

For more details, check out the Renovate Github page.

Final Thoughts

When you are working on crafting a web application using Laravel, you have to understand what the Framework is providing out of the box for security. In this article, we’ve outlined some of the steps you need to take to make your application as secure as possible, whether that’s following best practices or using third-party packages.

Photo by Philipp Katzenberger on Unsplash

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Laravel Security Best Practices
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