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API Security Testing: Identifying API Security Risks
API security testing identifies leaky APIs and attack surfaces that expose critical business functions in your APIs to attackers. Use Parasoft API security testing solution to address security risks associated with your APIs.
API Security Testing
What Is API Security Testing?
API security testing is the process of using dynamic application security testing (DAST) and verb fuzzing techniques to identify security misconfigurations and vulnerabilities in an application programming interface (API). The goal is to ensure that APIs adhere to organizational policy and best practices.
In today’s world, APIs are the core part of many applications that power the internet and play a key role in delivering functionality, business functions, and services.
API security testing helps identify where an API diverges from published API specifications. For example, is the API endpoint responding to the correct HTTP requests? This helps validate the correctness of APIs and identify discrepancies in published API specifications.
Ensuring that APIs adhere to published specifications and are protected against malicious inputs and attacks is critical to reducing an organization’s overall security risks. Naturally, API security testing puts a heavy focus on eliminating API vulnerabilities to improve overall application security posture before APIs are deployed to production environments.
Let’s learn more about API best practices, challenges, and key features of API security testing. Automate your application security and API security testing with Parasoft SOAtest to detect and prevent vulnerabilities that may result in cybersecurity breaches.
Want to discover a fresh approach to comprehensive API security testing? Check out our valuable guide.
Types of API Security Tests
Leveraging SAST and DAST as part of API security testing is the most effective way to test for security issues.
SAST can be used to detect coding issues that present potential API vulnerabilities. Using SAST can help developers improve code quality and security for APIs, as well as ensure things like proper authentication and authorization are implemented correctly in code to fortify APIs.
DAST can be used to perform security testing against your active API assets by running an active test that simulates real-world attacks to find potential vulnerabilities. This includes validating authentication and authorization controls are implemented correctly to protect APIs.
While traditional DAST tools struggle to understand API behavior, Parasoft’s SOAtest + DAST integration can leverage existing API test scenarios to run security testing as part of functional testing.
Other testing capabilities include, but aren’t limited to, the following.
- Functional testing. Reviews API function against specific situations to ensure expected results.
- Fuzz testing. Automated testing that injects invalid, malformed, or unexpected inputs against software to find vulnerabilities.
- Verb fuzzing. A subset of fuzz testing that probes REST endpoints in an attempt to expose sensitive information embedded in APIs. Verb fuzzing scans and enumerates APIs to find weaknesses and vulnerabilities in HTTP services by generating random input through HTTP methods.
Here are just a couple of issues that these API security testing techniques help organizations find. There are more.
- Mass assignment. An active record pattern for web applications can be abused to let users change data components they should not be able to access such as passwords, admin status, or permissions.
- Injection flaws. Users gain access to the shell command, backend database, or OS. Hackers can use this vulnerability to alter, read, or delete data.
API Security Testing Best Practices
Visibility into your API assets is a great starting point to achieve in-depth API security testing. Here’s how Parasoft’s API Security Testing solution helps organizations.
Examples of API Security Tests
API security testing is designed to find a wide range of security threats and vulnerabilities, like API misuse and abuse, security misconfigurations, authentication, authorization, poor logging, and other issues related to authentication, authorization, and sensitive data.
These types of threats are documented in the OWASP API Top 10 list and serve as best practices to protect and secure your APIs.
Injection attacks are widely known attack vectors that impact both native web application security and APIs. They occur when hostile inputs are put into an API such as an SQL injection or command injection. These attacks seek to gain privileges in order to gain access to data.
Other examples include something like a test for parameter tampering. This is when someone changes API request values to bypass what should be secure information. Checking related API elements on a web app or website via the browser console is an easy test to tell whether or not an API is secure.
The most common example of an API security test might be input fuzzing. In this test, someone puts random information into an API until something unexpected happens. This can cause error messages or total crashes thus revealing vulnerabilities in an application to outside attackers. It’s important to debug and troubleshoot error messages associated with APIs to understand potential security risks and resolve issues associated with APIs.
The following is a complete list of OWASP API Top 10 security threats and vulnerabilities that organizations should be aware of when testing their APIs.
- API1:2019 Broken Object Level Authorization
- API2:2019 Broken User Authentication
- API3:2019 Excessive Data Exposure
- API4:2019 Lack of Resources & Rate Limiting
- API5:2019 Broken Function Level Authorization
- API6:2019 Mass Assignment
- API7:2019 Security Misconfiguration
- API8:2019 Injection
- API9:2019 Improper Assets Management
- API10:2019 Insufficient Logging & Monitoring
See how to protect applications with the OWASP API Security Top 10 and SAST in our joint webinar with Forrester.
Parasoft converts manual and automated UI tests into automated API tests.
There are many ways to enhance your software development workflow and ensure secure APIs. Automation is one of the few guaranteed measures that will deliver returns.
Whether it’s a CI/CD pipeline implementation, updating best practices for API security testing, or reacting to OWASP API Top 10 changes, Parasoft tools offer agility, consistency, and versatility.
Frequently Asked Questions
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