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When all else fails


The "Incident Handlers Handbook" discusses at length how to respond to security breaches, but the main takeaways are:

  • You need to do work before incidents happen to be able to respond effectively.
  • Similar measures can lower the rate of incidents.
  • You will still have incidents.
  • Being in a position to respond effectively can limit damage when incidents occur.

Node's proposed security working group includes in its charter measures to route information about vulnerabilities and fixes to the right places, and coordinate response and disclosure.

Package monitoring services like nodesecurity, GitHub's package graph, snyk, and the nodejs-sec list aim to help vulnerability reports get to those who need them.


Threats: 0DY

Node's security working group is working on a lot of preparedness issues so we only address a few.

Naming is hard

Each of the groups mentioned above is doing great work trying to help patches get to those who need them. Each seems to be rolling their own naming scheme for vulnerabilities.

The computer security community has a centralized naming scheme for vulnerability reports so that reports don't fall through the cracks. Security responders rarely have the luxury of dealing with a single stack much less a single layer of that stack so mailing lists are not sufficient — if reporters roll their own naming scheme or only disclose via unstructured text, reports will fall through the cracks.


When trying to diagnose a problem, responders often look to log files. There has been much written on how to protect logs from forgery.


on a stack node runtime allows an attacker who controls s to write any content to a log.

console.log('MyModule: ' + s);

is a bit better. An attacker has to insert a newline character into s to forge another modules log prefix, and can't get rid of the previous one.

Success Criteria

Incident responders would have the tools necessary to do their jobs if

  • Security specialists can subscribe to a stream of notifications that include the vast majority of actionable security disclosures.
  • Responders can narrow down which code generated which log entries.

Possible solutions


Use CVE-IDs if at all possible when disclosing a vulnerability. There is a CNA for Node.js but that doesn't cover non-core npm modules and other CNAs cover runtime dependencies like OpenSSL. If there is no other CNA that is appropriate, MITRE will issue an ID.


On module load, the builtin module.js creates a new version of require for each module so that it can make sure that the module path gets passed as the module parent parameter.

The same mechanism could create a distinct console logger for each module that narrows down the source of a message, and makes it unambiguous where one message ends and the next starts. For example:

  1. Replace all /\r\n?/g in the log message text with '\n' and emit a CRLF after the log message to prevent forgery by line splitting.
  2. Prefix it with the module filename and a colon.

With this, an incident responder reading a log message can reliably tell that the module mentioned is where the log message originated, as long as the attacker didn't get write access to the log file. Preventing log deletion by other processes is better handled by Linux's FS_APPEND_FL and similar mechanisms than in node.

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