Securing your instance

Invenio has a core principle to always have secure defaults for settings, thus we have already done a lot in order to secure your installation. It is however still important to be aware of some important settings and risks.

Secret key

Probably the most important security measure is to have a strong random secret key set for you Invenio instance. The secret key is used for instance to sign user session ids and encrypt certain database fields.

The secret key must be kept secret. If the key is leaked or stolen somehow, you should immediately change it to a new key.

SECRET_KEY = '..put a long random value here..'

Good practices:

  • Never commit your secret key in the source code repository (or any other password for that sake).

  • Use different secret keys for different deployments (testing, staging, production)

Allowed hosts

Invenio has a configuration option called APP_ALLOWED_HOSTS which controls which hosts/domain names that can be served. A client request to a web server usually includes the domain name in the Host HTTP header:


The web server uses that for instance to host several website on the same domain. Also, the host header is usually used in a load balanced environment to generate links with the right domain name.

An attacker has full control of the host header and can thus change it to whatever they like, and for instance have the application generate links to a completely different domain.

Normally your load balancer/web server should only route requests with a white-listed set of host to your application. It is however very easy to misconfigure this in your web server, and thus Invenio includes a protective measure.

Simply set APP_ALLOWED_HOSTS to a list of allowed hosts/domain names:


Number of proxies

Invenio is commonly used with both a load balancer and a web server in front of the application server. The load balancer and web server both works as proxies, which means that the clients remote address usually get’s added in the X-Forwarded-For HTTP header. Invenio will automatically extract the clients IP address from the HTTP header, however to prevent clients from doing IP spoofing you need to specify exactly how many proxies you have in front of you application server:


CSRF protection

Invenio has different ways of protecting your application from Cross Site Forgery (CSRF) attacks.

In the UI application, Flask-WTF is used to protect against these type of attacks.

In the REST application, Invenio has a configuration option called REST_CSRF_ENABLED which controls if it should apply the CSRF check or not. It uses the invenio_rest.csrf.CSRFProtectMiddleware to validate the csrftoken cookie and the request’s HTTP_X_CSRFTOKEN header.

When REST_CSRF_ENABLED is enabled, if your REST call is using an OAuth Access API Token e.g

Authorization: Bearer <token>

then the CSRF checks are skipped.