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Oleg Chursin
Oleg Chursin

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Browser Security Headers with Gatsby and Netlify

Our goals:

  • create a simple website (blog)
  • add a new blog post
  • push it to GitHub
  • publish our website to Netlify
  • secure it with browser security headers

Your takeaways:

  • step-by-step guide on how to publish a website with Netlify
  • Netlify config file with working config for basic browser security headers

Let’s go

Step 1. Create a simple website (blog).

Question 0 - which tech stack to use. We will be working with GatsbyJS (GatsbyJS) which is an amazing static site generator allowing to create blazing fast websites at almost no time. I will not waste time enumerating all of the Gatsby features, but do make sure that you play with it. And if you happen to like the result, feel free to join GatsbyNYC Meetup (Gatsby NYC (New York, NY) | Meetup) that I have an honor to co-host.

Make sure you have gatsby-cli installed by running gatsby —v. If not install Gatsby globally with:

npm install -g gatsby-cli
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GatsbyJS has a concept they call starters. And for our needs we will chose gatsby-starter-blog (gatsby-starter-blog: Gatsby Starter | GatsbyJS) that will leave us with a simple setup to jump-start a blog. By the way, this starter was inspired by Dan Abramov’s blog - Overreacted, which in it’s own turn is a Gatsby website (Overreacted — A blog by Dan Abramov).

Let’s create a new project with the following command:

gatsby new our-blog-name
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And open it in your favorite text-editor. You will get the following structure:

> content
> node_modules
> src
> static
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The folder that is of interest to us is content - that’s where our blog posts live in the for of markdown files. And that’s where we will be adding our new blog post.

It’s high time to see something in the browser. Fire up your newly created blog with npm start or yarn start. This will run gatsby develop command under the hood which will do it’s magic and make your blog available at http://localhost:8000/ by default.

Step 2. Add a new blog post

You may have noticed that Gatsby gives you some magic to play with. Folders (folder-names) in content > blog automagically become routes. The same thing happens with folders in pages.

Therefore, we will create a new folder in blog. Let’s name it deploy-and-secure. Inside the newly created folder we will touch index.mdfile with the following content:

title: Deploy Your Site Securely and Easily with Netlify and Browser Headers
date: "2020-05-20T22:12:03.284Z"
description: "Deploy Your Site Securely and Easily with Netlify and Browser Headers"

*Our goals:*
* create a simple website (blog)
* add a new blog post
* push it to GitHub
* publish our website to Netlify
* secure it with browser security headers
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The part in between --- is called the front matter. You may have come across it if you have a blog on The rest is a good old markdown file. Just add your content and publish.

Step 3. Publish our blog with Netlify.

There are numerous ways to publish your static site these days, but Netlify is probably one of the coolest.

Things we need to be successful:

  • a website
  • GitHub repo
  • Netlify account

We already have our new and shiny website. You don’t need my help to push it to a GitHub repo. Let’s do the Netlify part.

Next steps are taken under assumption that you created a Netlify account and connected it to your GitHub account. Easy.

So, within Netlify we click on New site from Git to setup our CD flow. Netlify will prompt us with the following:

Continuous Deployment

Choose the Git provider where your site’s source code is hosted. When you push to Git, we run your build tool of choice on our servers and deploy the result.

We chose GitHub, search for the needed repo and select it.

Then we specify branch to deploy. In our case let’s stick to default master , although for most of my personal projects I prefer to have a separate prod branch. Netlify is crazy smart so it already knows that we have a Gatsby site, so in Basic build settings section it gives us all the needed defaults for build command and publish directory.

Hit Deploy site now. Wait… and wait again. Once it’s done you site is available under netlify-generated url. Let’s change that.

Click on Domain settings and under Custom domains click on Options and Edit this name. Save your changes and voila you have your site on

Step 4. Secure your website with browser security headers

Always start with definition:
Browser security headers - HTTP response headers that your application can use to increase the security of your application. Once set, these HTTP response headers can restrict modern browsers from running into easily preventable vulnerabilities.

More information on headers:

OWASP Secure Headers Project

MDN docs

Course on Pluralsight
Introduction to Browser Security Headers by Troy Hunt

How to add headers in Netlify

RTFM. Netlify docs on custom headers: Custom headers | Netlify Docs

Straightforward, right? Let’s do it.


Add netlify.toml to the root.

  for = "/*"
    Strict-Transport-Security = "max-age=63072000; includeSubDomains; preload"
    Content-Security-Policy = "default-src data: 'unsafe-inline' 'unsafe-eval' https:; script-src data: 'unsafe-inline' 'unsafe-eval' https: blob:; style-src data: 'unsafe-inline' https:; img-src data: https: blob:; font-src data: https:; connect-src https: wss: blob:; media-src https: blob:; object-src https:; child-src https: data: blob:; form-action https:; block-all-mixed-content"
    X-Frame-Options = "DENY"
    X-Content-Type-Options = "nosniff"
    Referrer-Policy = "no-referrer"
    Feature-Policy = "microphone 'none'; geolocation 'none'"
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Be extra careful with Content-Security-Policy header. You may end up breaking your site by blocking your end-users from being able to load your content. You may find this tool helpful in generating CSP for you: Report URI: Generate your Content Security Policy

Take you HSTS setup step further with Chromium project

The HSTS value needs to be:
Strict-Transport-Security: max-age=31536000; includeSubdomains; preload

You can make sure that your site is preloaded into Chromium browsers as the one that is always served over https. Use this tool to do it: HSTS Preload List Submission

This is it. We’ve gone through all the steps and have successfully created, deployed, and secured our website with browser security headers on Netlify.

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