As abundant of the software and application development companies are shifting to the APIs, the danger of security breaches has enhanced to a great extent. This is because of the circumstance APIs serve as the entries to the sensitive customer data and applications. APIs make it simple for the systems to rapidly integrate into the applications.
Since the usage of APIs has enhanced in modern software, there is a wide range of protocols as well as data formats influenced with these APIs, such as REST/JSON, SOAP/XML, GWT, RPC, and others. The main thing to note here is that the APIs are frequently unprotected and can be vulnerable to various threats. The weakest point in the API can reveal backend server appliances, customer data and monetary systems to the unauthorized users, thereby putting the API as well as business at risk.
Risk In API
Because of using web technologies over the internet, APIs fall to encounter the security issues. Most of the conventional risks of the web applications and websites are applicable to the APIs. However, because of the unique nature of API, they further enlarge the attack area surface.
In basic, based on how weak the API has been developed, it could be hazardously exposed back-end architecture, back-end application and back-end data to hacks and deliver easy clues to link attack vectors. When compared to web applications, it is possible to allow bulk data transfer easily with the APIs. The risks postured by the APIs include loss of confidentiality, availability, and integrity.
Here we listed some possible APIs threats and vulnerabilities:
- DoS attack
- Cross-site scripting
- SQL Injections
- Parameter Attacks
- Malicious Code Injection
- Business Logic Attacks (BLA)
- Tampering with API Requests & Responses
- Identity & Session Threats
- Lack of Rate Limiting
- Service Information Leakage
- Risk Exposure and Business Impact of API Vulnerabilities
These tables depict the risk exposure of the API and its potential impacts on business:
Recent APIs include the rich client applications like Java script run with a browser and mobile applications, which connect to some form of API. Modern businesses are not considering these APIs in the security prospect and often leave them unprotected. Thereby, these APIs includes numerous vulnerabilities.
Testing Against Unprotected APIs
Almost all kinds of authentication, injection, encryption, configuration, access control, and other issues can possible in the APIs as like the traditional application, hence the entire kinds of testing methods that are used for the other application are applicable in the APIs.
Since APIs includes complex data structures and protocols, the security testing is difficult here. It is important to choose the effective testing strategy to analyse APIs and discover vulnerabilities for ensuring the defenses of the API.
When it comes to securing API, it is essential to aware about the pitfalls in the contractions that can be easily exploited by the attackers.
Lack of TLS/SSL
In order to secure, it is incredible to focus on strong encryption at the transport layer. Without the proper transport security by adding TLS/SSL, an attacker will achieve a path to read as well as tamper with the data. For example, Man-in-the-Middle.
Encryption Doesn’t Infer Trust
For initiating the encrypted communication, a web client needs an SSL certificate that requires being validated. The process of validation is not always straightforward.
If there is a lack of proper planning, there could be a chance of loopholes in the potential certificate validation too. If that loophole is exploited, the hackers could get the chance to use fake certificates as well as traffic interception technologies to acquire usernames, API keys, passwords and steal the data.
SOAP and XML
SOAP is nothing but a messaging protocol, which relies on the XML as a data format. The main concern with this messaging protocol is its complex data layer. Since SOAP spends more time in the production stage because several systems depend on it, it is rare to involve in the security implication arrangement investigation. Hence, it is important to ensure that SOAP is analysed when auditing security.
Business Logic Flaws
Specific API calls are created to offer access to the endpoint subsets. It offers some boundaries to the data access. However, attackers attempting all the possible calls and routes to acquire the data.
Exploiting the business logic flaws is one of the most common methods of attackers to achieve this. A few example enterprises that encounter these attacks are Nokia, Facebook, and Vimeo. Manually auditing of API can support to prevent this unintended loophole. Enforcing the principle of least privilege can also aid to prevent this attack.
In security standpoints, often the API endpoints are overlooked. Endpoint hardening measures, including key signing, hashes, and shared secrets are essential to integrate at the initial stages of the development of API, to prevent the security loopholes.
Tips To Enhance The Defense Of APIs
- Ensure the secure communication between the APIs and client
- Ensure that all keys, tokens, and credentials have been secured with a strong authentication scheme for the APIs
- Ensure that the parser configuration for data format is toughened enough to prevent attacks
- Prevent unauthorized data references and function by implementing proper access control scheme
On the whole, the issues with the API are becoming a keystone of the today’s open enterprise. API deserves high attention when implementing security. Ensuring secure API can offer the organization to leverage the sensitive data with ease as well as security.