Firebase Common Security Misconfigurations

Written by Bar Hajby on

Firebase Common Security Misconfigurations

Written by Bar Hajby on


Optimization and scalability take center stage in the rapidly evolving application development field. Google Firebase, a comprehensive cloud-based platform, equips developers with potent tools for efficient server-side development.

This article highlights the technical importance for developers to understand Firebase’s Realtime database security rules. It explains the technical risks associated with misconfigurations and offers guidance on how to manage the database securely in the Firebase Realtime database.

These technical skills are crucial for safeguarding data and ensuring user privacy in a technically challenging setting.

What is Firebase Realtime Database?

Google’s Firebase Realtime database, a core component of the Firebase development platform, is essential for efficient data storage and Realtime synchronization in web and mobile applications. It operates as a schema-less NoSQL database, offering developers greater flexibility in data management. With a JSON tree structure for organizing data, it simplifies data retrieval and manipulation.

Unlike traditional relational databases, NoSQL databases like Firebase’s Realtime database are dynamic and scalable, making them well-suited for projects with evolving data structures. This approach provides developers with a versatile and efficient solution for modern application and mobile development.

Explanation of The Attack

During the initial development phase, developers often mistakenly set Realtime database security rules flags as permissive, with attributes such as read=true and write=true, which allow developers to specify the permissions for reading and writing data to the database. When these flags are set to true, it means that anyone with access to the database can read and write data without any restrictions. In other words, it grants full, unrestricted access to the application’s database, which is why it’s considered permissive.

This simplification is motivated by the need for an uncomplicated development process, swift adaptability, and straightforward debugging, enabling developers to promptly confirm data retrieval from the database and its presentation within the application without delving into complex access control mechanisms.

An Example of Insecure Firebase Security Rules


To gain a deeper understanding of the misconfiguration, the following test flow diagram illustrates the potential risks associated with permissive Realtime database security rules. This scenario demonstrates how these rules can inadvertently lead to issues such as unauthorized data modification and theft, the possibility of a denial of service attack, and the potential compromise of the entire web or mobile application. The following graphical chart will further clarify these risks:

A Diagram Explaining the Misconfigurations Test


To address the security risks posed by permissive Realtime database security rules, developers should consider setting the “read” and “write” rules to false by default, effectively restricting all access to the database. This initial lockdown ensures that no unauthorized entity can read or modify data. From this starting point, developers can selectively grant permissions only to authorized users or entities as needed.
This process involves defining more fine-tuned rules that specify which parts of the database are accessible to whom and under what conditions. For example, one might grant read access to authenticated users while reserving write access for administrators or specific authenticated roles. This “need-to-know” approach minimizes the attack surface, enhances data security, and mitigates the risk of sensitive data modification, theft, denial of service attacks, or compromising the entire application, as mentioned. It is a crucial step in maintaining the integrity and security of the application’s data while allowing for controlled access when and where it is required.


Firebase Realtime Database rule misconfigurations pose significant security risks in the context of data storage and access control. Improperly configured rules can inadvertently expose sensitive data or grant unauthorized access, leading to potential data breaches and modification. To mitigate these risks, it is crucial to implement proper Firebase Realtime Database security rules.

Organizations should prioritize cyber security risk assessments and penetration tests to mitigate risks in their databases, which is the most important priority when developing SaaS products.

Clear Gate, a trusted cybersecurity provider, offers in-depth manual penetration tests to help organizations protect valuable data from potential threats.