Navigating Laravel Security: Beyond the Basics

Last updated: Aug 09, 2023

Laravel puts a lot of emphasis on security. It ships with a variety of security features out of the box, like CSRF protection, SQL injection prevention, and XSS prevention. That said, there are still responsibilities that fall on you as a developer to ensure your Laravel website is secure.

In this article, we'll explore common security issues that Laravel developers might face and how to prevent them.

How can your Laravel website get hacked?

Weak Passwords

If usernames and emails on your system can be guessed or publicly known, and you don't enforce strong password policies, you're at risk. Hackers will usually gain access to a vulnerable account by brute forcing their password, and look for ways to escalate their privileges.

So how do you prevent this? By enforcing your users to have strong passwords. Luckily, Laravel comes with a slew of password validation rules that you can use to enforce strong passwords.

Exposed or Incorrect Configuration

Due to poor server or application config, your application might be a sitting duck for hackers.

Imagine if anyone could access your .env file. They would have access to your database credentials, API keys, and other sensitive information. Don't believe this can happen? Go to Google and search DB_USERNAME filetype:env. You'll be surprised!

  • 💡 Tip: Make sure your webserver points to the /public directory of your Laravel application.
  • 💡 Tip: Always keep APP_DEBUG set to false and APP_ENV set to production in production.

Outdated Dependencies

Hackers often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated packages or libraries used by Laravel applications. When these packages have security patches available, not updating them can lead to breaches. Keeping your dependencies up to date can prevent such exploits.

  • 💡 Tip: Regularly update your dependencies.

Lack of Security Headers

Security headers are HTTP response headers that instruct the browser to take certain security precautions. For example, the X-Frame-Options header prevents your website from being loaded in an iframe, which can prevent clickjacking attacks.

Laravel comes with a middleware that can add these headers to your responses. You can enable it by adding the following to your app/Http/Kernel.php file:

Here are other security headers you might want to consider:

  • X-Content-Type-Options Prevents browsers from MIME-sniffing a response away from the declared content-type.
  • Strict-Transport-Security Prevents browsers from accessing your website via HTTP and forces them to use HTTPS.
  • Content-Security-Policy Prevents XSS, clickjacking, and other code injection attacks by whitelisting the sources of your content.
  • Permissions-Policy Allows you to control which features and APIs can be used in the browser.
  • Referrer-Policy Controls how much information the browser includes with navigations away from a document and should be set by all sites.

Here's a website that can help you generate the headers you need:

In particular, lack of a proper Content Security Policy can be a big security risk, especially if your website allows users to post content. We discuss this in more detail at the end of this article.

SQL Injections

Yes, Laravel Eloquent is safe from SQL injections, but you still need to be careful when using raw SQL queries.

If you're using raw SQL queries, make sure you use parameter binding to prevent SQL injections.

DNS Spoofing or Hijacking

DNS spoofing or hijacking is when a hacker redirects your website's traffic to a malicious server. This can be done by compromising your DNS server or by compromising your domain registrar account.

To prevent this, you can use DNSSEC (Domain Name System Security Extensions). Think of it as SSL for DNS. It uses cryptographic signatures to verify that DNS responses are authentic.

  • 💡 Tip: Use DNSSEC to prevent DNS spoofing or hijacking.

Going Beyond the Basics

Now that we've covered the basics, let's talk about tools that can help you go beyond the basics and protect your Laravel website from more advanced security threats.

Use a Web Application Firewall (WAF)

A web application firewall (WAF) is a security solution that filters and monitors HTTP traffic between a web application and the internet. It can help protect your website from common web exploits like SQL injections, cross-site scripting (XSS), and cross-site forgery requests (CSRF).

Cloudflare is a popular WAF that you can use to protect your Laravel website. It's easy to set up and comes with a free plan.

  • 💡 Tip: Use a WAF like Cloudflare to protect your Laravel website.

Use a Content Security Policy (CSP)

A content security policy (CSP) is an added layer of security that helps detect and mitigate certain types of attacks, including Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) and data injection attacks. These attacks are used for everything from data theft to site defacement or distribution of malware.

CSP works by defining a whitelist of trusted sources of content for your website. This whitelist is then used by the browser to determine which resources can be loaded and executed on your website.

Spatie has a great package that can help you set up CSP for your Laravel website:

Implement Real-time Monitoring and Alerting

Monitoring your Laravel website for security issues is a great way to prevent breaches.

Appkeep takes care of this for you because it constantly watches Laravel website for security and configuration issues. We have checks that look for outdated dependencies, bad configuration, missing security headers, and more.

Plus, Appkeep monitors uptime, performance, SSL certificates and server health.

Conclusion: A Safer Laravel Journey

Congratulations, you're now armed with advanced security tactics tailored for your Laravel website. By taking these steps, you're not just guarding your site – you're setting up a solid defense against potential threats. Stay safe out there!