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OWASP API Risk Assessment – Getting Ahead of Attacks

A business’s APIs are both the glue that binds its software solutions together and a major attack surface, exposing businesses to data breaches, fraud and business disruption. Getting ahead of these threats requires regular vulnerability assessments, including comprehensive tests that test for all types of OWASP API security flaws and weaknesses.

Excessive Data Exposure

When an API risk assessment exposes all the data it has access to, there is a risk that attackers will harvest this data for information theft or manipulation. This risk stems from a common shortcut that many development teams take when coding: instead of returning just the data needed to fulfill a request, the API will return all available information. As attacks become more sophisticated, savvy hackers look for these shortcuts to gather as much data as possible from an API and the applications it is running through.

Broken Object-Level Authorization

Unsafe coding practices often lead to authorization flaws that allow attackers to gain access to other users’ data via an API. These vulnerabilities can be exploited to steal authentication tokens and perform unauthorized administrative functions.

Lack of Secure Transport Layer Protection

Unless an API uses HTTPS to encrypt sensitive data during transit, it can be exposed to eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle attacks. This vulnerability can be mitigated by using encryption and implementing rate limiting to limit the number of requests an API can receive in a given timeframe. It is also important to have a registry to track API endpoints and record their characteristics like name, purpose, payload, usage, live date, debug date and owner. This will prevent a company from using shadow, third-party or deprecated APIs that it is unaware of and help reduce the risk of a security incident.

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