Best Back-End Frameworks For Security

May 19, 2022
8 min read time
Best Back-End Frameworks For Security

TLDR;

In previous articles, we reviewed some popular high-performance front-end and back-end frameworks. These articles focus on how these frameworks have been developed for high-performance. Here we will look at back-end frameworks that offer developers and product managers highly secure features for application development.

Python

In 2022, Python is one of the most popular programming languages. Stack Overflow's 2021 survey showed that it was the 3rd most popular programming language among the developer community.

The Python Software Foundation and its developer community constantly monitor and fix security vulnerabilities. Python.org has a robust security issue reporting process where the foundation's Python Security Response Team (PSRT) triages all reported vulnerabilities and recommends appropriate countermeasures. The PSRT is tightly controlled to ensure that vulnerabilities are only read by a highly trusted group of Python developers.

Django

Django is a prevalent web framework among Python developers. It's often the first choice for data science and machine learning engineers because of its suitability for building AI systems and complex data-driven web apps. For product managers who may be developing this type of application, security will be high on their list of requirements. Django provides a comprehensive set of security features for building highly secure Python applications.

fast-back-end-frameworks-djangoDjango has many security features built-in, and its documentation provides advice on how to implement security in your web application.

Django templates protect against Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks. It also has built-in protection against Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF), which checks for a secret in each POST request.

Django's SQL queries are constructed with parameterization, which separates SQL queries from their parameters and helps protect against SQL injection.

Django has many other built-in security features, including:

  • Database-backed session security
  • Clickjacking protection
  • Validated Host headers
  • Referrer policy
  • Cross-Origin Opener Policy (COOP).

FastAPI

If you're focusing on building secure APIs, then FastAPI is worth a look. FastAPI is an OpenAPI Python framework designed for building APIs based on Starlette and Pydantic.

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FastAPI provides various tools to help you implement security. Their documentation claims these make handling security easy and rapid without learning all the security specifications.

Authentication and Authorization

FastAPI is based on the OpenAPI (previously known as Swagger) specification for building APIs. As a result, FastAPI's security and authentication include support for the OpenAPI security "schemes":

  • OAuth2 and the OpenID Connect extension to OAuth2
  • HTTP authentication, including JWT and basic authentication
  • API keys from query parameters, headers, or cookies.

With FastAPI being based on OpenAPI, you can be confident in placing your backend API in one domain and authenticating securely with a front-end in a different domain. FastAPI's tools let you handle security in these and other scenarios.

Data Validation

FastAPI takes advantage of Pydantic's data validation features, and it provides built-in validation of JSON, UUIDs, email fields, and many more field validations are also available.

FastAPI is built to minimize code duplication and, with its simple implementation of security features, helps to get your project to production-ready code rapidly.

ASP.NET Core

ASP.NET Core provides a high-performance cross-platform framework for building cloud web applications. It's a Model View Controller (MVC) framework and has fully featured built-in security.

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Razor Pages

ASP.NET Core uses the Razor Pages templating engine for views, allowing .NET code to be embedded into web pages. Razor offers protection against attacks like XSS with its encoding features. The Razor engine encodes all output sourced from variables, it has tag helpers that encode input used in tag parameters, and it also allows the encoding of JavaScript values.

Data Protection

As part of this framework's security and identity features, it has something called ASP.NET Core Data Protection. Core Data Protection provides a cryptographic API to protect data and includes key management and key rotation. ASP.NET Core uses Core Data Protection's capabilities to protect against common attacks such as CRSF/XSRF.

It has many other out-of-the-box security and identity protection features such as:

  • Authentication
  • Authorization
  • Data protection
  • HTTPS enforcement
  • Safe storage of application secrets
  • Cross-Origin Request (CORS) policy.

Authentication

It handles authentication using an authentication middleware service that has registered authentication handlers that have secure configurations called "schemes". Standard external authentication providers are also supported, such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.

Authorization

ASP.NET Core's authorization model provides simple, declarative role and policy identity management. Its authorization model is built into the Razor template engine, allowing you to control access to your web application using its authorization filters.

ASP.NET Core is an enterprise back-end framework with comprehensive security controls. It has been built with security in mind from the ground up and offers developers the tools they need to protect against common attacks.

Laravel

The Laraval framework makes it easy for developers to build web applications quickly because of its range of toolsets. It has built-in development, testing, automation, deployment tools, etc. Importantly, its security features are equally comprehensive.

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Authentication

Laravel claims to make implementing authentication very simple, and that claim is born out of its out-of-the-box features. A default authentication configuration file gives you some quickstart authentication options. It has a default user model which can be used to authenticate with a database via the Eloquent ORM. If you're not using Eloquent to connect to your database, you can use Laravel's query builder for database authentication.

Authenticating users is simple with its authentication event handling. Authentication attempts and logins are handled smoothly, and its user model makes it easy to access the authenticated user's data. It's also possible to validate user credentials without actually logging them in. Another useful function is logging in a user for a single request where no sessions or cookies are used.

Laravel also has route filters that can be used to create protected routing, only allowing authenticated users to access specific resources.

Authorization

Laravel comes with built-in authorization capabilities, and they provide an easy way to manage authorization checks. Authenticated user operations like updating or deleting database records are authorized using Laravel's gates and policies. Laravel describes gates and policies as being like routes and controllers. Gates provide simple closure-based authorization, and policies provide group logic for resources. You can create robust security within your Laravel application by combining gates and policies.

Passwords

Laravel doesn't require you to implement forgotten or reset password functions. Methods for sending password reminders and resetting passwords come as standard. These include functionality for validating passwords; for example, the framework will automatically verify that passwords match on a password reset.

Laravel provides secure hashing of passwords by using the cross-platform file encryption utility Bcrypt and the Argon2 hashing utility. Bcrypt will hash a Laravel application's user registrations and logins.

Encryption

Laravel has encryption services that make it simple to implement encryption and decryption. Its encryption services are provided via OpenSSL and strong AES-256 and AES-128 encryption.

As you can see, Laravel has many built-in security functions that help to protect against common attacks and vulnerabilities.

CodeIgniter

If you're looking for a more lightweight back-end PHP framework with good security, then CodeIgniter is worth looking at.

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XSS / CSRF protection

CodeIgniter comes with a Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) filter, which looks for standard techniques to introduce malicious JavaScript into your data or code.

Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) protection is built-in to CodeIgniter, and every non-GET HTTP request will trigger its CSRF protection.

Data Validation

CodeIgniter's Form Validation Library is available to help developers validate and filter data. This has methods for setting validation rules, cascading rules, preparing data, etc.

SQL

CodeIgniter helps you ensure data security with some helpful additions.

CodeIgniter's Query Builder simplifies the creation of SQL statements, making them safer because the system automatically escapes the values.

If you don't want to use the Query Builder for SQL statements, you can use CodeIgniter's inbuilt functions. These allow you to manually protect database tables and field names and manually escape queries.

Fiber

Fiber is a Go (Golang) back-end framework designed for rapid application development. It's built on top of the Fasthttp library for Go which, as the name suggests, means Fiber is optimized for high-performance. Fiber might be a good choice if you're looking for a fast, lightweight framework with robust security.

fast-back-end-frameworks-fiberEven though Fiber is designed to have a small footprint, the developers have ensured that this lightweight framework has secure middleware. As you might expect, its security functions are not comprehensive but what is available ensures your lightweight application can still be safe.

Authentication

Fiber has BasicAuth middleware that provides HTTP basic authentication. This middleware handles valid and invalid credentials, authentication redirects, and generates signatures. The Encrypt middleware for Fiber encrypts cookie values that it generates for authentication.

Security Middlewares

Fiber's Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) middleware provides a secure mechanism for handling requests from different domains. Fiber has its Accept header function to determine if extensions or content types are acceptable.

Fiber has built-in Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) protection like other frameworks. The CSRF middleware does this by passing a CSRF token via cookies. This cookie is compared against the client CSRF token on each request and handled accordingly.

The Helmet middleware is designed to set secure HTTP headers to protect against XSS, MIME type sniffing, and click-jacking.

The Limiter middleware enables Fiber to limit repeated requests. This is useful for limiting the number of public API or endpoint requests allowed during authentication or password management.

Data Validation

Fiber's validator package uses validation tags or custom validators to provide cross-field validation. It's a comprehensive library for validating fields with useful functions, such as validating all or part of multidimensional fields and handling a type interface by determining its underlying type before validation.

Summing up

With the security of a PHP web application being a primary design requirement, architects and developers may find that Laravel has their back with robust security implementation.

While CodeIgniter is not comparable to other large PHP frameworks like Laravel, it does have some good security features for a small, fast back-end framework.

Fiber can provide you with the necessary robust security without impacting performance if you're working on high-performance Go projects.

For those working in the Microsoft ecosystem, ASP.NET Core is built for security from the ground up and provides extensive security features. Product managers may be interested in this choice simply because ASP.NET Core is built for enterprise application development and its comprehensive security model reflects this.

Django and FastAPI are good choices for ensuring application security in the Python world. Django is ideal for securing large, complex applications, and FastAPI can protect lightweight, high-performance API applications.

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