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Secure HTTP Headers

When attempting to secure our websites / apps, we have seen how to implement important features such as "HTTPS" and "Password Encryption". However, there are other attacks such as "Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)", "Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF)", "Clickjacking Attacks", and so on that we must also consider. Fortunately, we can set a number of headers on our HTTP Responses that can help mitigate these issues, for example:

  • Content Security Policy: This header can be used to control what resources the user agent is allowed to load for that page. For example, a page that uploads and displays images could allow images from anywhere, but restrict a form action to a specific endpoint. A properly designed Content Security Policy helps protect a page against a cross-site scripting attack.

  • X-Frame-Options: Tells the browser whether the website can be embedded in a frame or iframe. By setting the X-Frame-Options header to "DENY" or "SAMEORIGIN," we prevent the web application from being embedded in a frame from another domain, effectively mitigating clickjacking attacks.

  • X-Permitted-Cross-Domain-Policies: This header is used to limit which data external resources, such as PDF documents, can access on the domain. Failure to set the X-Permitted- Cross-Domain-Policies header to “none” value allows other domains to embed the application’s data in their content.

and so on - see for more information.

Introducing Helmet.js

To help us work with these secure headers, we can use an NPM module called "helmet.js". Helmet.js functions as middleware in our Node / Express.js applications that automatically sets or removes certain response headers in an effort to enhance security.

To get started using helmet, we must install it from NPM and require it in our server.js code:

npm install helmet
const helmet = require('helmet');

Once it is required, we can use the default configuration by simply invoking it an "app.use()" to register it as middleware, ie:


If you test an express server (ie: our "simple web server") with this configuration, you should see a similar set of headers have been automatically added to the response:

Response HeaderValue
Content-Security-Policydefault-src 'self';base-uri 'self';font-src 'self' https: data:;form-action 'self';frame-ancestors 'self';img-src 'self' data:;object-src 'none';script-src 'self';script-src-attr 'none';style-src 'self' https: 'unsafe-inline';upgrade-insecure-requests

Additionally, the X-Powered-By header has also been removed.

For configuration options, see the "official Helmet.js documentation"