Securing Web Applications with HTTP Headers

HTTP response headers are used to improve security in web applications. Modern browsers support HTTP headers, which can help protect online applications from common threats such as clickjacking or cross-site scripting. It usually takes only a couple of codes to implement these headers. (Janaki/Salman)

What are HTTP security headers?

A subset of HTTP headers with a specific focus on security are known as HTTP security headers. They are sent back and forth between a server and a client, which is often a web browser, to define the security parameters for HTTP communication. Other HTTP headers can also be categorized as HTTP security headers, even though they have nothing to do with privacy or security. 

How can HTTP security headers improve web application security?

Web application security refers to the process of identifying and resolving exploitable vulnerabilities in application code. HTTP security headers function differently, adding a further level of protection by limiting actions that are allowed by the server and browser once the web application has started to run. Similar to other web technologies, the existence and support of HTTP protocol headers vary based on the latest specifications of the protocol and the actions of browser vendors. Optimizing an online application’s headers and web server configuration can significantly increase its resistance to numerous common threats, such as clickjacking and cross-site scripting (XSS).

The top 5 HTTP security headers to take into account when implementing in an application are as follows:

1. Content-Security-Policy

With the help of this header, developers can provide a list of reliable sources for materials like CSS, JavaScript, and pictures. Developers can stop attackers from inserting malicious content, such as XSS attacks, into their apps by designating a list of permitted sources. Other security policies, including blocking the execution of inline JavaScript or blocking the use of eval(), can also be specified in the Content-Security-Policy header.

2. Strict-Transport-Security

This header instructs the browser to use HTTPS (secure connections only) to view the website. Developers can prevent surveillance and man-in-the-middle attacks by encrypting user communications with the website by setting this header. This is particularly crucial for websites that manage private or sensitive data, including banking information. 

3. X-Frame-Options

This header indicates whether the page can be shown in an iframe or a frame, which helps to prevent clickjacking attacks. Developers can stop their pages from being shown in a frame on another website by changing this header to “Deny.”

4. X-Content-Type-Options

The content type of a file can be ascertained without explicit specification by using a technique called content type sniffing, which is avoided by using the HTTP header. By configuring this header to “nosniff,” developers can instruct the browser to utilize the given content type rather than attempting to infer it from the file’s content.

5. Referrer-Policy

When a user clicks on a link, this header regulates the data supplied in the “Referer” header. The URL of the website the user was on prior to clicking the link is indicated in the ‘Referer’ header. Developers can safeguard their users’ privacy and stop sensitive data from leaking by setting this header.

Expert Opinion

In the Nockpoint application, authentication and authorization are secured via auth0. According to our software developer, Janaki Alagappan, HTTPS servers provide a higher level of security for web applications. She adds that at Brigita Software Solutions, we make use of encryption, logging, authorization, and authentication in our projects. 


The server configuration method is the recommended method for configuring HTTP security headers. This is due to the fact that server configurations can override any existing configurations, giving the application a more robust and consistent degree of security. Furthermore, server configurations may be controlled centrally and are frequently simpler to maintain, which facilitates the process of making sure that all the security measures are in place. 

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