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Assess CORS Configuration

Assess CORS Configuration

Ankita Gupta

Ankita Gupta

Ankita Gupta

Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) is a mechanism that allows or restricts requested resources on a web server depending on where the HTTP request was initiated. While CORS is essential for resource sharing across different origins, improper configurations can lead to significant security vulnerabilities, such as data breaches and unauthorized access.

Real-Life Scenario:

Imagine reviewing the CORS configuration in a Node.js application:

const express = require('express');
const cors = require('cors');
const app = express();

    origin: '*',
    methods: ['GET', 'POST', 'DELETE', 'UPDATE', 'PUT', 'PATCH']

app.listen(3000, () => {
    console.log('Server running on port 3000');

In this example, the application is configured to accept requests from any origin, which can be risky depending on the nature of the application and the data it handles.

Engaging GitHub Copilot:

Prompt to GitHub Copilot: "Analyze this CORS configuration for security risks."

Anticipated Copilot Analysis:

GitHub Copilot would scrutinize the CORS settings and might respond with:

The CORS configuration in the provided Node.js application poses several security risks:

1. **Allowing All Origins**: The setting `origin: '*'` allows all domains to make requests to your server. This is insecure, especially for applications handling sensitive data, as it can lead to data leakage and unauthorized access.

2. **Permissive Methods**: The configuration permits a wide range of methods (`GET`, `POST`, `DELETE`, `UPDATE`, `PUT`, `PATCH`). Allowing all these methods can be unnecessary and dangerous if the application does not require them, as it can expose the server to unwanted write operations or data modification.

To mitigate these risks, consider the following adjustments:

- **Restrict Origins**: Replace the wildcard origin with a list of allowed domains. This minimizes the risk of cross-site scripting (XSS) and data theft.

    origin: ['', ''],
    methods: ['GET', 'POST'] // Only allow methods that are actually used
  • Limit HTTP Methods: Restrict the methods to those that the application actually uses. For example, if your application does not need to handle DELETE requests, do not allow it.

  • Credentials and Headers: If your application needs to handle credentials (cookies, session tokens, etc.), ensure that the CORS configuration correctly supports this by setting credentials: true, and validate the configuration of exposed headers.

  • Review Regularly: CORS policies should be reviewed regularly to ensure they align with the current operational requirements and security practices of the application.

Common pitfalls when checking CORS configuration for security checks using GitHub Copilot include:

  1. Overreliance on Automated Tools: While GitHub Copilot can provide valuable insights, it is important to remember that it is an AI tool and may not cover every potential security issue. Manual review by a skilled security expert is still essential.

  2. Misunderstanding of Suggestions: GitHub Copilot can suggest changes to your code, but it is crucial to understand the implications of these changes before implementing them. Blindly following suggestions may lead to unexpected behavior or new vulnerabilities.

  3. Overlooking Context-Specific Risks: GitHub Copilot can analyze code based on common security best practices, but it might not account for risks specific to your application or environment. Ensure to consider these when reviewing its recommendations.

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