API Security Checklist: The Top Requirements
Because of the several disparate solutions, developing modern applications can be highly complex that communicate with each other. To make a successful outcome, the developers need to be deliberate about how they include business logic in their code. Setting up the accurate logic is a bit time-consuming process, and developers are forced to tack on security as an afterthought. Inevitably, this approach to security gives attackers a chance to easily compromise critical workloads. As per a recent report, it was found that a shocking two-thirds of organizations lack a basic API security strategy.
Why is there a massive requirement for API security APIs?
According to the traditional era, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have been utilized in order to help one server communicate with another server. However, with the advent of microservices, APIs have become essential for making communication between servers.
The complexity of the applications grows with the increase in the value to the end user. As an effect of this, the developers are pressured to increase productivity. There are certain startups, including Tabnine and Raycast, that have held impressive funding rounds in the recent note. This process indicates how relevant the productivity of the developers has become. With this pressure on performance, developers don’t have the time to test each API connection for vulnerabilities or perform periodical penetration testing to ensure that new attack surfaces are not being launched.
The API Security Checklist
Assuring the security of anything is easier when you have a good plan in place. Developers can perform checks on APIs at their level without compromising on due dates. An exhaustive checklist would cover all bases and help teams streamline their API security strategy.
- OWASP threats
OWASP API Security is one of the most important checks to cover. Both developers and reviewers should perform reviews to ensure that these threats are covered in the API security strategy. The top API security threats are well-documented, and the team of developers can get plenty of material over the online platform to understand them. They can also find some ways to protect their APIs from these common threats.
- Authorization and authentication
Authorization and authentication checks are critical and should be performed rigorously to ensure the security of the APIs. Teams can take charge of the user input to see how APIs react and confirm no sensitive information is exposed on the client side. They should also ensure any data filtration is done on the server side and not on the client side. An authorized user might not visualize the additional, sensitive data, but attackers can easily access this data. Rate limits and throttling are a few of the effective ways to prevent D-DoS. In case the user has no restrictions imposed on the number of times an API is called, attackers could deliberately ping that API until the server crashes.
- Security configuration
APIs can also be compromised if the security configuration is wrong. Security misconfigurations can also take place if developers aren’t well-versed with API security processes or due to a compromised API update. In any of the mentioned ways, these security flaws permit the attackers to access critical workloads. Always remember to keep a check on security configurations, as they are a vital part of any API security checklist.
- Hidden form fields
Attackers hold power to manipulate APIs via hidden form fields. Security and development teams should utilize the inspect element option in web browsers to check for hidden form fields. If any hidden form fields are found, teams should take charge of random inputs to understand the API response and document the observations.
- SQL/NoSQL injections
Injections are tough to tackle. Attackers can either utilize the SQL or NoSQL injections to an API to access data on the server. With the help of command injections, attackers can take the initiative to manipulate the servers directly. To tackle the situation and stop the attackers from doing so, teams can append OS commands in the API inputs and check the servers’ responses.
- Data encryption
Data encryption is yet an important crucial step taken by the developers. This ensures the security of their APIs. Teams should show relevant data only to authorized users upon decryption on the client side. Does this check that the data is accessible to malicious actors? Developers should in-build an encryption strategy that is up to the mark of the industry standards. Developers should also effectively abstract any data, including passwords or keys so that unauthorized personnel do not have access to sensitive data.
- Clear ownership
Tasks like encryption and elimination of sensitive data are the responsibility of the developer. At the same time, Ops teams must focus on updating APIs, eliminating obsolete APIs, and security configuration checks. Testing teams can own tasks, including input fuzzing, parameter tampering checks, and authentication checks. It reflects the workability of the teams and how the responsibility can be shared across different members without creating silos.