With the expansion of their target audience by offering interfaces for automated services through APIs. An API provides all the same services that an online application of the same provider offers, just without the use a graphical user interface.
An API penetration test involves cyber-security professionals conducting a manual, cyber security risk assessment, using the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) methodology. These attacks are performed as an attempt to gain unauthorized access to API-based systems until sensitive data is compromised, causing a loss of confidentiality and integrity of data.
Why Perform API Penetration Tests?
An API penetration test helps determine the security posture (i.e., whether it’s secure) of an entire application. It includes its infrastructure, databases, backend network, etc., and suggests ways to improve its security. Here are the five most common objectives for performing API application penetration tests:
Examples of Common API Cyber Attacks:
Lack of Resources and Rate Limiting – An attacker could overwhelm an API implementation with brute force attacks trying to guess a user’s password, or to send general request at a rate that overwhelms resource availability to manage them, like requesting all users’ information.
Injection Flaws – An attacker injects commands passing unfiltered data to the SQL server (SQL injection), to the LDAP server (LDAP injection), or anywhere else, resulting in access to confidential data or deleting it.
Broken Authentication – An attacker gains unauthorized access to the system and compromises confidential data by stealing passwords, keys, or session tokens.
Security Misconfiguration – Unpatched flaws, unused pages, unprotected files or directories, outdated software, and running software in debug mode which can allow attackers to leverage cyber- attacks and access confidential information.
Business Logic Bypass – An attacker manipulates legitimate functionalities in the application to elicit unintended behavior and achieve malicious goals. These flaws are generally caused by not anticipating unusual situations that might arise and, consequently, not handling them safely.
Insecure Direct Object References (IDOR) – An attacker can manipulate a parameter that allows him to access database items belonging to other users. For instance, the reference to a database object is exposed in the URL.