Policies#

Stability: 1 - Experimental

Node.js contains experimental support for creating policies on loading code.

Policies are a security feature intended to allow guarantees about what code Node.js is able to load. The use of policies assumes safe practices for the policy files such as ensuring that policy files cannot be overwritten by the Node.js application by using file permissions.

A best practice would be to ensure that the policy manifest is read-only for the running Node.js application and that the file cannot be changed by the running Node.js application in any way. A typical setup would be to create the policy file as a different user id than the one running Node.js and granting read permissions to the user id running Node.js.

Enabling#

The --experimental-policy flag can be used to enable features for policies when loading modules.

Once this has been set, all modules must conform to a policy manifest file passed to the flag:

node --experimental-policy=policy.json app.js

The policy manifest will be used to enforce constraints on code loaded by Node.js.

To mitigate tampering with policy files on disk, an integrity for the policy file itself may be provided via --policy-integrity. This allows running node and asserting the policy file contents even if the file is changed on disk.

node --experimental-policy=policy.json --policy-integrity="sha384-SggXRQHwCG8g+DktYYzxkXRIkTiEYWBHqev0xnpCxYlqMBufKZHAHQM3/boDaI/0" app.js

Features#

Error behavior#

When a policy check fails, Node.js by default will throw an error. It is possible to change the error behavior to one of a few possibilities by defining an "onerror" field in a policy manifest. The following values are available to change the behavior:

  • "exit": will exit the process immediately. No cleanup code will be allowed to run.
  • "log": will log the error at the site of the failure.
  • "throw": will throw a JS error at the site of the failure. This is the default.
{
  "onerror": "log",
  "resources": {
    "./app/checked.js": {
      "integrity": "sha384-SggXRQHwCG8g+DktYYzxkXRIkTiEYWBHqev0xnpCxYlqMBufKZHAHQM3/boDaI/0"
    }
  }
}

Integrity checks#

Policy files must use integrity checks with Subresource Integrity strings compatible with the browser integrity attribute associated with absolute URLs.

When using require() all resources involved in loading are checked for integrity if a policy manifest has been specified. If a resource does not match the integrity listed in the manifest, an error will be thrown.

An example policy file that would allow loading a file checked.js:

{
  "resources": {
    "./app/checked.js": {
      "integrity": "sha384-SggXRQHwCG8g+DktYYzxkXRIkTiEYWBHqev0xnpCxYlqMBufKZHAHQM3/boDaI/0"
    }
  }
}

Each resource listed in the policy manifest can be of one the following formats to determine its location:

  1. A relative-URL string to a resource from the manifest such as ./resource.js, ../resource.js, or /resource.js.
  2. A complete URL string to a resource such as file:///resource.js.

When loading resources the entire URL must match including search parameters and hash fragment. ./a.js?b will not be used when attempting to load ./a.js and vice versa.

To generate integrity strings, a script such as printf "sha384-$(cat checked.js | openssl dgst -sha384 -binary | base64)" can be used.

Integrity can be specified as the boolean value true to accept any body for the resource which can be useful for local development. It is not recommended in production since it would allow unexpected alteration of resources to be considered valid.

Dependency redirection#

An application may need to ship patched versions of modules or to prevent modules from allowing all modules access to all other modules. Redirection can be used by intercepting attempts to load the modules wishing to be replaced.

{
  "resources": {
    "./app/checked.js": {
      "dependencies": {
        "fs": true,
        "os": "./app/node_modules/alt-os",
        "http": { "import": true }
      }
    }
  }
}

The dependencies are keyed by the requested specifier string and have values of either true, null, a string pointing to a module to be resolved, or a conditions object.

The specifier string does not perform any searching and must match exactly what is provided to the require() or import. Therefore, multiple specifiers may be needed in the policy if it uses multiple different strings to point to the same module (such as excluding the extension).

If the value of the redirection is true the default searching algorithms are used to find the module.

If the value of the redirection is a string, it is resolved relative to the manifest and then immediately used without searching.

Any specifier string for which resolution is attempted and that is not listed in the dependencies results in an error according to the policy.

Redirection does not prevent access to APIs through means such as direct access to require.cache or through module.constructor which allow access to loading modules. Policy redirection only affects specifiers to require() and import. Other means, such as to prevent undesired access to APIs through variables, are necessary to lock down that path of loading modules.

A boolean value of true for the dependencies map can be specified to allow a module to load any specifier without redirection. This can be useful for local development and may have some valid usage in production, but should be used only with care after auditing a module to ensure its behavior is valid.

Similar to "exports" in package.json, dependencies can also be specified to be objects containing conditions which branch how dependencies are loaded. In the preceding example, "http" is allowed when the "import" condition is part of loading it.

A value of null for the resolved value causes the resolution to fail. This can be used to ensure some kinds of dynamic access are explicitly prevented.

Unknown values for the resolved module location cause failures but are not guaranteed to be forward compatible.

Example: Patched dependency#

Redirected dependencies can provide attenuated or modified functionality as fits the application. For example, log data about timing of function durations by wrapping the original:

const original = require('fn');
module.exports = function fn(...args) {
  console.time();
  try {
    return new.target ?
      Reflect.construct(original, args) :
      Reflect.apply(original, this, args);
  } finally {
    console.timeEnd();
  }
};

Scopes#

Use the "scopes" field of a manifest to set configuration for many resources at once. The "scopes" field works by matching resources by their segments. If a scope or resource includes "cascade": true, unknown specifiers will be searched for in their containing scope. The containing scope for cascading is found by recursively reducing the resource URL by removing segments for special schemes, keeping trailing "/" suffixes, and removing the query and hash fragment. This leads to the eventual reduction of the URL to its origin. If the URL is non-special the scope will be located by the URL's origin. If no scope is found for the origin or in the case of opaque origins, a protocol string can be used as a scope.

Note, blob: URLs adopt their origin from the path they contain, and so a scope of "blob:https://apiref.com" will have no effect since no URL can have an origin of blob:https://apiref.com; URLs starting with blob:https://apiref.com/ will use https://apiref.com for its origin and thus https: for its protocol scope. For opaque origin blob: URLs they will have blob: for their protocol scope since they do not adopt origins.

Integrity using scopes#

Setting an integrity to true on a scope will set the integrity for any resource not found in the manifest to true.

Setting an integrity to null on a scope will set the integrity for any resource not found in the manifest to fail matching.

Not including an integrity is the same as setting the integrity to null.

"cascade" for integrity checks will be ignored if "integrity" is explicitly set.

The following example allows loading any file:

{
  "scopes": {
    "file:": {
      "integrity": true
    }
  }
}

Dependency redirection using scopes#

The following example, would allow access to fs for all resources within ./app/:

{
  "resources": {
    "./app/checked.js": {
      "cascade": true,
      "integrity": true
    }
  },
  "scopes": {
    "./app/": {
      "dependencies": {
        "fs": true
      }
    }
  }
}

The following example, would allow access to fs for all data: resources:

{
  "resources": {
    "data:text/javascript,import('fs');": {
      "cascade": true,
      "integrity": true
    }
  },
  "scopes": {
    "data:": {
      "dependencies": {
        "fs": true
      }
    }
  }
}