Build Bulletproof React Apps: Avoid These 7 Security Mistakes

7 Common React Security Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

React’s popularity continues to soar, powering some of the web’s most dynamic and interactive applications. However, with this growth comes the ever-present need for robust security. A single security lapse can leave your React app vulnerable to attacks, compromising user data and damaging your reputation.

This blog post by Inwizards, best ReactJS Development Company delves into the 7 most common React security mistakes developers make and equips you with the knowledge to avoid them. By understanding these pitfalls and implementing the provided solutions, you can build bulletproof React applications that users can trust.

Here’s a sneak peek at the security mistakes we’ll tackle:

  • Insecure Data Handling
  • Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
  • Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF)
  • Insecure Authentication
  • Insecure Direct Object References (IDOR)
  • Third-Party Library Vulnerabilities
  • Neglecting Security Testing

Let’s dive in and ensure your React apps stand strong against potential security threats.

7 Common React Security Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

1. Insecure Data Handling

Imagine a scenario where a user submits a comment on your React application. This comment might contain their name, email address, or even a personal message. If this data isn’t handled securely, it can be exploited by attackers.

Here’s how insecure data handling can occur:

  • Not sanitising user input: Malicious users might inject scripts or other harmful code into their input fields. If this code is directly displayed in your application without proper sanitization, it can be executed in the user’s browser, leading to XSS attacks (more on that later).
  • Sending sensitive data in plain text: Usernames, passwords, and credit card information should never be transmitted without encryption. Hackers can intercept unencrypted data and gain unauthorized access to sensitive information.

Impact: Insecure data handling can lead to a range of security breaches, including:

  • Data breaches: Attackers can steal sensitive user information like passwords and credit card details.
  • Account takeovers: Hackers can gain access to user accounts by exploiting vulnerabilities in data handling practices.
  • Privacy violations: User data can be exposed if not handled securely, leading to a loss of trust.


  • Sanitize all user input: Libraries like DOMPurify or React Helmet can help you remove any malicious code from user-generated content before displaying it on your application.
  • Implement secure data transmission: Use HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) to encrypt all communication between your application and the server. This ensures data remains confidential during transmission.
  • Consider hashing or salting passwords: Store passwords securely using techniques like hashing and salting. These methods make it nearly impossible for attackers to decipher passwords even if they breach your database.

Remember: Treat all user input with suspicion and implement robust data handling practices to safeguard sensitive information.

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2. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

We briefly mentioned XSS attacks in the previous section. Let’s delve deeper into this common React security mistake.

XSS Explained:

One kind of web security flaw that lets attackers insert malicious scripts into reliable websites is called cross-site scripting (XSS). An unintentional user interaction with a website that has XSS vulnerabilities can allow the injected script to run in the user’s browser. This may result in a number of attacks, such as: 

  • Stealing user credentials: Malicious scripts can capture user login information (cookies, session tokens) and send it to the attacker.
  • Redirecting users to malicious websites: Attackers can redirect users to phishing sites designed to steal personal information or spread malware.
  • Defacing websites: Scripts can be used to alter the appearance of a website, tarnishing its reputation.

Example in React:

Imagine a React application that displays user comments. If the application doesn’t properly sanitise user input, an attacker could inject a script that steals cookies when the comment is displayed.


  • Always sanitise user input: As mentioned earlier, libraries like DOMPurify or React Helmet can help remove malicious code from user-generated content before rendering it in your application.
  • Encode user input: Encode any user input that is displayed on your application to prevent it from being interpreted as code. Libraries like jsdom can be helpful for this purpose.
  • Validate user input: Implement validation rules to ensure user input conforms to expected formats. This can help prevent attackers from injecting unexpected code.

You can drastically lower the possibility of XSS attacks in your React apps by adhering to these procedures. 

Next Up: We’ll explore another common security pitfall – Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF). Stay tuned!

3. Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF)

While XSS exploits vulnerabilities in how data is displayed, Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) attacks target how data is submitted.

Understanding CSRF:

Imagine a user is logged into their bank account on a secure website (Website A). They also have another browser tab open with a seemingly harmless image from an untrusted website (Website B). Unbeknownst to the user, Website B contains a malicious script.

The Attack:

  1. The script on Website B sends an unauthorized request to Website A (the bank) in the background.
  2. The user’s browser automatically includes their authentication cookies for Website A in the request, as they are already logged in.
  3. Website A receives the request and, due to the valid cookies, processes it as if it came from the user themselves.

Potential Consequences:

This seemingly harmless image on Website B has tricked the user’s browser into performing an unauthorized action on Website A (the bank). Attackers can leverage CSRF to:

  • Transfer funds from the user’s account.
  • Change account settings.
  • Perform any action that the user’s authenticated session allows.

Protecting Your React App from CSRF:

  • Implement CSRF tokens: Generate a unique CSRF token for each user session and embed it in your forms or API requests. When the user submits a form, the token is sent along with the request data. The server verifies the token’s validity before processing the request. Libraries like axios or CSRF-Token can simplify this process.
  • Use the SameSite attribute: Configure your cookies with the SameSite=Strict attribute. This prevents the browser from sending cookies along with cross-site requests, mitigating CSRF vulnerabilities. However, this approach has limitations and might not be suitable for all scenarios.

By implementing these measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of CSRF attacks on your React application.

Up Next: We’ll tackle another security concern – Insecure Authentication. Stay tuned for more ways to build secure React applications!

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4. Insecure Authentication

Authentication is the process of verifying a user’s identity. Insecure authentication practices can leave your React application vulnerable to unauthorised access and data breaches.

Common Mistakes:

  • Storing passwords in plain text: This is a major security faux pas. If attackers gain access to your database, they can easily steal user passwords.
  • Weak password policies: Short passwords or passwords without a combination of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols are easier to crack.
  • Lack of two-factor authentication (2FA): 2FA adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second verification factor, like a code sent to the user’s phone, in addition to a password.

Impact of Insecure Authentication:

  • Account takeovers: Hackers can exploit weak authentication practices to gain access to user accounts, potentially leading to identity theft or financial losses.
  • Data breaches: If attackers compromise user accounts, they might be able to access sensitive data stored within the application.
  • Loss of user trust: Users expect their information to be secure. Insecure authentication practices can erode user trust in your application.

Securing Your React App’s Authentication:

  • Hash and salt passwords: Store passwords using secure hashing algorithms like bcrypt or Argon2. These algorithms transform passwords into a one-way hash, making it impossible to recover the original password even if the database is breached. Salting adds a random string to each password before hashing, making it even more secure.
  • Enforce strong password policies: Require users to create strong passwords that meet minimum length and complexity requirements. Consider offering password strength metres to guide users.
  • Implement two-factor authentication (2FA): 2FA significantly increases security by requiring a second verification factor beyond just a password. Popular options include SMS codes, authenticator apps, or security keys.
  • Use secure libraries: Leverage established libraries for handling authentication tasks like password hashing and session management. This helps avoid common pitfalls associated with building custom authentication logic.

By prioritizing secure authentication practices, you can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorised access and data breaches in your React application.

Stay tuned for the next part where we’ll explore Insecure Direct Object References (IDOR)!

5. Insecure Direct Object References (IDOR)

Imagine a React application that allows users to view their personal profiles. Each profile is assigned a unique identifier (ID) that’s used to retrieve and display the data. Insecure Direct Object References (IDOR) occur when an application relies solely on these IDs for access control, creating vulnerabilities.

The Problem:

  • If predictable user IDs are used (e.g., sequential numbers), an attacker might be able to guess another user’s ID and access their profile information.
  • Even with random IDs, attackers could potentially exploit logic flaws in the application to manipulate URLs and gain access to unauthorised data.

Impact of IDOR:

  • Privacy breaches: Users’ sensitive information, like financial details or personal messages, could be exposed if attackers gain access to their profiles through IDOR vulnerabilities.
  • Data breaches: Attackers might be able to access a wider range of user data if IDOR vulnerabilities allow them to bypass access controls for multiple user profiles.
  • Loss of user trust: Users expect their data to be private. IDOR vulnerabilities can erode user trust in your application’s security.

Securing Your React App from IDOR:

  • Implement proper authorization checks: Don’t rely solely on user IDs for access control. Verify user permissions before granting access to any data. This ensures only authorised users can view or modify their own information. Techniques like role-based access control (RBAC) can be helpful for this purpose.
  • Validate user input: Sanitize any user-supplied input that might be used to construct URLs or access data. This helps prevent attackers from manipulating IDs or exploiting logic flaws in the application.
  • Consider using opaque identifiers: Instead of user IDs, consider using random, opaque tokens that don’t reveal any information about the underlying data. This makes it more difficult for attackers to guess or manipulate them.

By implementing these strategies, you can significantly reduce the risk of IDOR vulnerabilities in your React application and ensure user data remains secure.

Next Up: We’ll explore the dangers of Third-Party Library Vulnerabilities! Keep reading for more ways to build secure React applications.

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6. Third-Party Library Vulnerabilities

Third-party libraries are a cornerstone of modern web development, offering pre-built functionality and speeding up development times. However, these libraries can also introduce security vulnerabilities if not managed properly.

The Threat:

  • Outdated libraries: Libraries with known vulnerabilities can expose your application to attacks if you haven’t updated them. Attackers can exploit these vulnerabilities to gain access to your application or user data.
  • Malicious libraries: In rare cases, malicious libraries might be published with the intent to compromise applications that use them.

Impact of Third-Party Library Vulnerabilities:

  • Supply chain attacks: A vulnerability in a single library can impact a wide range of applications that depend on it. This can lead to large-scale attacks affecting numerous users.
  • Data breaches: Attackers can exploit vulnerabilities in libraries to gain access to user data stored within your application.
  • Increased development time: Addressing security vulnerabilities in third-party libraries might require additional development effort and patching updates.

Securing Your React App from Third-Party Library Vulnerabilities:

  • Keep libraries up-to-date: Regularly check for updates to the libraries you use and apply them promptly. Utilise tools like npm audit or yarn audit to identify potential vulnerabilities in your dependencies.
  • Use libraries from trusted sources: Choose libraries with a good reputation and active maintenance by reputable developers. Consider the library’s download statistics and community engagement as indicators of its trustworthiness.
  • Minimize dependencies: Don’t introduce unnecessary libraries into your project. Carefully evaluate the trade-off between convenience and potential security risks before adding a new library.
  • Monitor for vulnerabilities: Stay informed about known vulnerabilities in popular libraries. Resources like the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) can provide up-to-date information on security threats.

By following these practices, you can significantly reduce the risk of third-party library vulnerabilities compromising your React application.

Up Next: We’ll explore the final pitfall on our list – Neglecting Security Testing! Stay tuned for the concluding part of this blog post.

7. Neglecting Security Testing

Security testing is a crucial aspect of building secure React applications. It involves actively searching for vulnerabilities before attackers have a chance to exploit them.

The Problem:

  • Relying solely on development practices: Secure coding practices are essential, but they’re not foolproof. Unexpected vulnerabilities can still slip through the cracks.
  • Lack of awareness: Developers might not be familiar with the latest attack vectors or security best practices.

Impact of Neglecting Security Testing:

  • Increased risk of breaches: Undiscovered vulnerabilities leave your application vulnerable to attacks that could compromise user data or disrupt operations.
  • Reactive approach to security: Fixing vulnerabilities after an attack has occurred is a costly and time-consuming process.
  • Loss of user trust: Security breaches can significantly damage user trust in your application.

Integrating Security Testing into Your React Development Process:

  • Static Application Security Testing (SAST): Use SAST tools to scan your code for common vulnerabilities like XSS, SQL injection, and insecure direct object references. These tools can identify potential security issues early in the development process.
  • Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST): DAST tools simulate real-world attacks to identify runtime vulnerabilities in your application. These tools can help uncover vulnerabilities that might be missed by SAST scanners.
  • Manual penetration testing: Consider engaging professional penetration testers to conduct in-depth security assessments of your application. Penetration testers can identify complex vulnerabilities and provide valuable insights into your application’s security posture.

By incorporating these security testing practices into your development workflow, you can proactively identify and address vulnerabilities, significantly reducing the risk of attacks on your React application.

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Building secure React applications requires a proactive approach. By understanding and avoiding the common security mistakes we’ve explored in this blog post, and by implementing robust security practices like secure coding, authentication, and regular testing, you can create React applications that are resilient to attacks and protect your users’ data.


Build Bulletproof React Apps: Avoid These 7 Security Mistakes

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