GraphQL- Security

We have covered GraphQL Basics, GraphQL Schema, and GraphQL Architecture. Another important aspect one needs to consider is security. Here we will talk about some of the basic concepts on techniques that can be used to implement GraphQL security.

Timeouts: First and most basic strategy is to implement timeouts. It is easy to implement at the server level and can save one from malformed, complex, and time-consuming queries.

Maximum Query Depth: It is easy for a client to create a complex query with deep relation or at times cyclic relation. One needs to set up a limit on the maximum depth we are supporting.

   me{ #Depth 1
      friend{ #Depth 2
         friend{ #Depth 3
            friend{ #Depth 4
               #this could go on

Complexity: Another way to control query executions to have a complexity limit for queries that can be executed. By default, every query is given a default one complexity.

query {
author(id: "abc") { # complexity: 1
  posts {           # complexity: 1
    title           # complexity: 1

The above query will fail if we set the max complexity for the schema to 2. We can also update default complexity for a query, for example, if we feel posts query should have a complexity of 5, we can do that.

Throttling: Another aspect to control clients from overloading the server is throttling. GraphQL normally suggests two types of throttling, server time based and complexity based. In server time-based throttling, each client can be given a limit of time it can use on the server, mostly based on the leaky bucket strategy where time will get added if you are not using the server. The complexity-based throttling poses a limit of maximum complexity that a client can execute, for example, if the limit is 10, and the client sends 4 queries with complexity 3 each, one would be rejected.

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