Expert Tips For API Vulnerabilities and How to Protect Them Part 1
Cybersecurity has never been more critical. In the last several years, APIs have taken center stage for modern stakeholders dependent upon qualities like productivity, reliability, and programming among others. So many of these things modestly exist under the radar of attention-grabbing, leaving them prone to at risk for attack by bad actors. To help you gain a better understanding of what to look for in keeping your site’s APIs protected, here’s a breakdown of the most common types of attacks and what you can do to prevent them.
What Is An API
API stands for Application Programming Interface, a collection of tools used by web developers and programmers to build new ‘middle man’ software that sends information for a task between a site or app and its user. A site or app’s API(s) is like a car’s engine. APIs can also act as layers of security, too, which we’ll be focusing on here.
Why APIs Are A Big Concern
Why does API security matter so much? Well, sometimes that information transfer includes sensitive data, especially when dealing with business APIs, about the customer, user, or even the business itself. Thus keeping the APIs safe and secure helps prevent those interfaces from becoming compromised in any way.
Typical API Security Risks
The biggest causes for concern when it comes to the risk of API security are
- sensitive data exposure
- misconfigured security
- inadequate monitoring
- broken authentication
- rate-limiting and lack of resources
The implications of these and other risks are huge.
Exposure to DDoS Attacks
This type of attack, a Distributed Denial of Service, generally is led by a network of bots to overload a target with artificial traffic. This prevents genuine users from accessing the site, rendering the site inoperable, and so it typically results in damaged brand reputation and loss of customers and sales.
A parameters attack focuses on the URL field, manipulating the site target without the user’s knowledge or consent. This can involve data like a user’s credentials, product information, etc. Because URLs often follow a pattern, they are popular aims for attackers.
Broken Object-Level Authorization
broken object-level authorization or BOLA means the application did not actually verify the user has the necessary approval to access an asset of another user. Nearly every single company has an API at risk of BOLA.
Insufficient Monitoring and Logging
When lacking information logs or lacking the right context, format, storage, etc, a company’s APIs can therefore also lack the resources to detect a break in security. If these logs aren’t backed up, intruders can erase the logs, essentially covering up both their tracks and their identities. This is especially dangerous for the financial and medical sectors.
How to Protect Against API Security Issues
In order to know the “how”, you first have to know the “what” – What API vulnerabilities are you or your company most prone to? No easy question to answer, especially as a company grows and integrates more and more APIs. A good first step is using an Extended Detection and Response (XDR). It’s specially designed to check for security flaws and support proper authentication.
Use Access Tokens
Using tokens is always a good idea when it comes to securing APIs. They allow sharing of information without necessarily having to share credentials, too. The tokens are always confidential.
This is the foundation of securing APIs from attacks. Agency Partner recommends you use TLS or Transport Layer Security to scramble any and all data, especially the uniquely identifying kind. It’s also important that valid identifications be required so that only approved handlers have access to said critical data.
Consider this your VIP list. Only specific IP addresses are granted access to the network. This is very helpful in preventing any unauthorized entry that can affect APIs within a particular private network. Whitelisting tends to work best in centrally administered locations that typically deal with a steady task load. This system can take effect in as little as 24 hours, and If any attack does happen, you can be sure that it came from within.
API security issues are a real and present danger to businesses of all sizes. By understanding the vulnerabilities that exist and taking steps to mitigate them, you can protect your business and its data. Agency Partner is here to help you do just that. We have the expertise and tools necessary to secure your site or app APIs against attack, so contact us today for a consultation!