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Introspection in schema validation in Apollo Server

Moderate severity GitHub Reviewed Published Jun 5, 2020 in apollographql/apollo-server • Updated Aug 13, 2022


npm apollo-server (npm)

Affected versions

< 2.14.2

Patched versions

npm apollo-server-azure-functions (npm)
< 2.14.2
npm apollo-server-cache-memcached (npm)
< 2.14.2
npm apollo-server-cloud-functions (npm)
< 2.14.2
npm apollo-server-cloudflare (npm)
< 2.14.2
npm apollo-server-core (npm)
< 2.14.2
npm apollo-server-express (npm)
< 2.14.2
npm apollo-server-fastify (npm)
< 2.14.2
npm apollo-server-hapi (npm)
< 2.14.2
npm apollo-server-koa (npm)
< 2.14.2
npm apollo-server-lambda (npm)
< 2.14.2
npm apollo-server-micro (npm)
< 2.14.2


We encourage all users of Apollo Server to read this advisory in its entirety to understand the impact. The Resolution section contains details on patched versions.


If subscriptions: false is passed to the ApolloServer constructor options, there is no impact. If implementors were not expecting validation rules to be enforced on the WebSocket subscriptions transport and are unconcerned about introspection being enabled on the WebSocket subscriptions transport (or were not expecting that), then this advisory is not applicable. If introspection: true is passed to the ApolloServer constructor options, the impact is limited to user-provided validation rules (i.e., using validationRules) since there would be no expectation that introspection was disabled.

The enforcement of user-provided validation rules on the HTTP transport is working as intended and is unaffected by this advisory. Similarly, disabling introspection on the HTTP transport is working as intended and is unaffected by this advisory.

Note: Unless subscriptions: false is explicitly passed to the constructor parameters of new ApolloServer({ ... }), subscriptions are enabled by default, whether or not there is a Subscription type present in the schema. As an alternative to upgrading to a patched version, see the Workarounds section below to disable subscriptions if it is not necessary.

In cases where subscriptions: false is not explicitly set, the subscription server is impacted since validation rules which are enforced on the main request pipeline within Apollo Server were not being passed to the SubscriptionServer.create invocation (seen here, prior to the patch).

The omitted validation rules for the subscription server include any validationRules passed by implementors to the ApolloServer constructor which were expected to be enforced on the subscriptions WebSocket endpoint. Additionally, because an internal NoIntrospection validation rule is used to disable introspection, it would have been possible to introspect a server on the WebSocket endpoint that the SubscriptionServer creates even though it was not possible on other transports (e.g. HTTP).

The severity of risk depends on whether sensitive information is being stored in the schema itself. The contents of schema descriptions, or secrets which might be revealed by the names of types or field names within those types, will determine the risk to individual implementors.

Affected packages

The bug existed in apollo-server-core versions prior to version 2.14.2, however, this means all integration packages (e.g., apollo-server-express, etc.) prior to version 2.14.2 which depend on apollo-server-core for their subscriptions support are affected. This includes the apollo-server package that automatically provides an Express server.

Therefore, for officially published Apollo Server packages, the full list of affected packages includes: apollo-server, apollo-server-azure-functions, apollo-server-cache-memcached, apollo-server-core, apollo-server-cloud-functions, apollo-server-cloudflare, apollo-server-express, apollo-server-fastify, apollo-server-hapi, apollo-server-koa, apollo-server-lambda, and apollo-server-micro.

Note: The full list included here doesn't fit into the box provided by the GitHub Security Advisories form.


The problem is resolved in Apollo Server versions 2.14.2 or higher. If upgrading is not an option, see Workarounds below. When upgrading, ensure that the affected integration package (e.g., apollo-server-express) and the apollo-server-core package are both updated to the patched versions. (The version numbers should both be 2.14.2.)


Upgrading to a patched version is the recommended solution. If upgrading is not an option, subscriptions can be disabled with subscriptions: false to resolve the impact. Disabling subscriptions in this way will disable all subscriptions support and the WebSocket transport:

const server = new ApolloServer({
  subscriptions: false,
  /* Other options, such as typeDefs, resolvers, schema, etc. */

For more information

If you have any questions or comments about this advisory, please open an issue and the maintainers will try to assist.

Credit and appreciation

Apollo fully believes in ethical disclosure of vulnerabilities by security researchers who notify us with details and provide us time to address and fix the issues before publicly disclosing.

Credit for this discovery goes to the team at Bitwala, who reported the concern to us responsibly after discovering it during their own auditing.


@abernix abernix published the maintainer security advisory Jun 4, 2020






No known CVE



Source code

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