OWASP Top 10 for Full Stack: Secure Your App

OWASP Top 10 for Full Stack: Secure Your App

Learn to protect your web-app against OWASP Top Ten security issues


3 min read


Currently, MERN stack is a developer favourite for building dynamic web applications. But with great power comes great responsibility – the responsibility to secure your app against ever-evolving cyber threats.

OWASP (The Open Worldwide Application Security Project) is a cyber security organisation that releases of list of top 10 security vulnerabilities every 4 years. It also provides a clear roadmap for fortifying your MERN application.

The OWASP Top 10 List - 2021

In 2021, OWASP released its latest list of top 10 vulnerabilities that includes -

  1. A01:2021-Broken Access Control

  2. A02:2021-Cryptographic Failures

  3. A03:2021-Injection

  4. A04:2021-Insecure Design

  5. A05:2021-Security Misconfiguration

  6. A06:2021-Vulnerable and Outdated Components

  7. A07:2021-Identification and Authentication Failures

  8. A08:2021-Software and Data Integrity Failures

  9. A09:2021-Security Logging and Monitoring Failures

  10. A10:2021-Server-Side Request Forgery

Well, since now we know what the issues look like, let's delve into how we can address each of these threats within the MERN context:

1) Broken Access Control (A01)

  • MERN Action: Implement robust authorization mechanisms like Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) to restrict user access based on their roles. Additionally, enforce proper session management with secure cookies (HttpOnly flag) and server-side session storage.

  • Example: A regular user in a project management app shouldn't be able to edit or delete tasks assigned to other users.

2) Cryptographic Failures (A02)

  • MERN Action: Always use strong cryptographic libraries for hashing passwords (bcrypt) and encrypting sensitive data at rest (AES-256) and in transit (TLS/SSL).

  • Example: Don't store passwords in plain text! Hash them securely to prevent unauthorized access even if the database is compromised.

3) Injection (A03)

  • MERN Action: Validate and sanitize all user inputs before using them in database queries or server-side scripts. Utilize libraries like Mongoose or prepared statements in Express.js to prevent SQL injection vulnerabilities.

  • Example: Sanitize user input in a search bar to prevent them from injecting malicious code that could steal data.

4) Insecure Design (A04)

  • MERN Action: Follow secure coding practices throughout the development lifecycle. Threat modeling can help identify potential attack vectors early on.

  • Example: Don't store sensitive data like credit card numbers directly in the database.

5) Security Misconfiguration (A05)

  • MERN Action: Keep all MERN stack components updated with the latest security patches. Securely configure your database, server, and framework settings.

  • Example: Ensure unnecessary services and functionalities are disabled on your server to minimize attack surface.

6) Vulnerable and Outdated Components

  • MERN Action: Use a dependency management tool like npm to keep all third-party libraries up-to-date with the latest security fixes.

  • Example: Update any outdated Node.js packages with known vulnerabilities as soon as possible.

7 ) Identification and Authentication Failures (A07)

  • MERN Action: Implement strong authentication mechanisms like JWT (JSON Web Tokens) with secure password hashing and session management.

  • Example: Enforce two-factor authentication (2FA) for sensitive actions.

8) Software and Data Integrity Failures (A08)

  • MERN Action: Implement input validation and data integrity checks to ensure data hasn't been tampered with during transit or storage.

  • Example: Use digital signatures to verify the authenticity of data coming from external sources.

9) Security Logging and Monitoring Failures (A09)

  • MERN Action: Implement comprehensive logging and monitoring solutions to track user activity and detect suspicious behavior.

  • Example: Monitor for failed login attempts and unusual access patterns to identify potential brute-force attacks.

10) Server-Side Request Forgery (A10)

  • MERN Action: Implement CSRF protection mechanisms like synchronizer tokens to prevent unauthorized actions on the server.

  • Example: Use libraries like helmet.js in Express.js to automatically add CSRF tokens to your application.


Remember, Security is an ongoing process. By following these best practices and staying updated on the latest threats, you can build a strong defence for your MERN stack application. But is it equally important to regularly conduct security audits and penetration testing to identify and address vulnerabilities in your code.

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