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Announcing apostrophe-secure-attachments


apostrophe-secure-attachments has just been released! This is an optional npm module for apostrophecms.

You must have apostrophe 2.77.2 or better to use this module successfully.

Why apostrophe-secure-attachments?

You want to limit access to certain uploaded files, such as PDFs, to
website users who have specifically been given permission to view
those files.

Wait, what’s the standard behavior?

By default, files uploaded to your Apostrophe site can be accessed
by anyone who knows the URL… which is why the URLs are unguessable.
This is a common approach for high-traffic services. It allows media
to be served as fast as possible by static webservers. And it still
protects that media from being discovered by search engines, until
someone shares that link in public.

This compromise works well for most sites, but it is not acceptable
for Intranet sites. And that’s why you tracked this module down.

Sounds great, what’s the catch?

All attachments are delivered a little bit slower, including attachments
that have public permissions. That’s because Apostrophe must get
involved in serving each one. It’s not terrible, but there’s an impact.
So just bear that in mind, and don’t use this module on a super-high-traffic
site that doesn’t really need it.


NOTE: node 8 is required for this module.

npm install apostrophe-secure-attachments

Restrictions (please read)

This module only works with the local storage backend of uploadfs.
This is the default way attachments are stored in Apostrophe. You cannot
use this module with the s3 or azure storage backends.

“Why not?” Those services are basically static webservers for your media.
That defeats the purpose of using this module.


Please note that limiting access to a URL doesn’t prevent an authorized user from saving a
file to their hard drive, then sharing that file directly. All this module does is prevent
link sharing. However, it is still a useful tool to keep sensitive documents from being
indexed accidentally after being inadvertently linked once on a public page, etc.


Just turn it on in app.js:

module.exports = {
  // in app.js
  const apos = require('apostrophe')({
    modules: {
      'apostrophe-secure-attachments': {}

Migrating your existing uploads

  1. Move public/uploads to data/secure-uploads.

  2. Your data folder should already be a shared, persistent folder and if you are using our
    stagecoach deployment system, then it is.
    But if you’re not… make very sure this folder is
    shared and persistent between deployments. Otherwise, you’ll lose your uploads every time
    you deploy.

  3. That’s all.

So wait… now how do I secure a file?

Just click on “Images” or “Files” in your admin bar, browse to the
file of interest, click to edit, and select the Permissions tab. You can
set up view permissions just as you would for a page, including options
like “Login Required” and “Certain People.” The latter can be locked down
both by user and by group.

What if I have my own custom attachment fields?

If you have added attachment schema fields directly to your own pages
or pieces, just set the view permissions for those pages and pieces.
For pages, this option is always available via “Page Settings.” For
pieces, it becomes available in the editor if you set permissionsFields: true as
an option to your pieces module, like this:

// lib/modules/products/index.js

module.exports = {
  extend: 'apostrophe-pieces',
  name: 'product',
  // Enables view permissions on a per-piece basis
  permissionsFields: true,
  addFields: [
      type: 'attachment',
      group: 'office',
      name: 'resume'