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Liran Tal
Liran Tal

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Tip #5 - audit your project for vulnerabilities in your open source dependencies

The npm ecosystem is the single largest repository of application libraries amongst all the other language ecosystems. The registry and the libraries in it are at the core for JavaScript developers as they are able to leverage work that others have already built and incorporate it into their code-base.

With that said, the increasing adoption of open source libraries in applications brings with it an increased risk of introducing security vulnerabilities.

Many popular npm packages have been found to be vulnerable and may carry a significant risk without proper security auditing of your project’s dependencies.

Some examples are npm request, superagent, mongoose, and even security-related packages like jsonwebtoken, and npm validator.

Security doesn’t end by just scanning for security vulnerabilities when installing a package but should also be streamlined with developer workflows to be effectively adopted throughout the entire lifecycle of software development, and monitored continuously when code is deployed.

Scan for vulnerabilities

Scanning for security vulnerabilities with Snyk, use:

$ npm install -g snyk
$ snyk test

When you run a Snyk test, Snyk reports the vulnerabilities it found and displays the vulnerable paths so you can track the dependency tree to understand which module introduced a vulnerability.

Most importantly, Snyk provides you with actionable remediation advise so you can upgrade to a fixed version through an automated pull request that Snyk opens in your repository, or apply a patch that Snyk provides to mitigate the vulnerability if no fix is available. Snyk provides a smart upgrade by recommending the minimal semver-upgrade possible for the vulnerable package.

Monitor for vulnerabilities discovered in open source libraries

The security work doesn’t end there.

What about security vulnerabilities found in an application’s dependency after the application has been deployed? That’s where the importance of security monitoring and tight integration with the project’s development lifecycle comes in.

We recommend integrating Snyk with your source code management (SCM) system such as GitHub or GitLab so that Snyk actively monitors your projects and:

  • Automatically open PRs to upgrade or patch vulnerable dependencies for you
  • Scan and detect vulnerabilities in open source libraries that a pull request may have introduced

If you can’t integrate Snyk with an SCM, it is possible to monitor snapshots of your projects as sent from the Snyk CLI tool as well, by simply running:

$ snyk monitor

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I also blogged about a complete 10 npm security best practices you should adopt in a post that includes a high-resolution printable PDF like the snippet you see below.

Thanks for reading and to Juan Picado from the Verdaccio team who worked with me on it. Check it out

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