The critical element for building an interactive and successful application or software in today’s ever-developing world could be using an API, which stands for Application Programming Interface. API’s are a fundamental part of all this software. It acts as an intermediate between the communications of two applications. It works like middleware to pass the information from one application to another.
Today, maximum traffic over the internet depends on API-based services. All small to large companies and technicians forecast it to grow every day as we see more new technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) coming up. An API is the most accessible point for hackers to steal data and sensitive information.
An organization must ensure that the web services in use are cent percent safe and have no probability of a malicious attack that can compromise its data.
API security testing is the process to protect the exposed or the vulnerable APIs that an organization consumes or produces. This includes authentication and authorization of users, requests, and services to avoid unwanted access and prevent data breaches.
Why do we need API Security Testing?
When we talk about the communication between a user and an application, the key element is the data processed or stored in the backend. Any loss or damage to this information is non-compensable. These days, data recovery or restoration is vulnerable to errors and a costly process in terms of both time and money. It might cause issues for an overall business and would lose customer trust.
These APIs can leak the most vital personal information of the company or the core logic behind an application, tarnishing its reputation. The reason that a company’s name lies in the hands of an API makes API security testing an urgent requirement.
Considering API security testing enhances the overall security of the application.
Regular IT security testing protects the API from unauthorized and unwanted access preventing malicious attacks and data breaches.
For instance, back in 2016, a famous car manufacturing company Nissan suffered a sensitive data exposure due to its “Nissan API” had a bug where one could send commands to it by knowing the VIN number. This API exposed many car functionalities like battery management, climate control, etc., leading to easy and unauthorized access to the car’s GPS coordinates, travel history, rule-following history, and so on. This was highly private information, leading to disastrous consequences if caught in the wrong hands.
Exposure via an API might threaten the entire application or the system in the development phase, making it an urgent requirement in the development process.
Sometimes code, unnecessary and unused features and dependencies, components, documents, and files have the potential to be a source of threat for a system. Ensure to get rid of such unwanted and unused resources. Updating the dependencies and libraries from time to time is the next step to keep the system safe.
● Data Processing
All the endpoints that have access to sensitive data should be secured using authentication techniques. Using universally unique identifiers for the identification of resources makes it unpredictable to guess for hackers. Process data in an asynchronous fashion and not all at once. Before taking the application to the production environment, turn off the debug mode to protect against any kind of malicious attacks or data breaches.
● Logging and Monitoring
Logging and monitoring are the key elements to check for malicious activity and make API security testing more straightforward and efficient. Continuous logging and regular monitoring help to identify unauthorized access or failed attempts to sneak into the system. These logs must be easily consumable to plan further actions to safeguard the application.
Methodologies for API Security Testing
API security testing can be accomplished using three different methods: Security Testing, Fuzz Testing, and Penetration or Pen Testing. These methods prevent the APIs from external threats and recognize the vulnerabilities, making it easier to understand and analyze the line of action to prevent the system from such threats.
1. Security Testing
This is the first phase of API security testing to check whether it meets the basic requirements. It comprises of the following:
- To authenticate a user’s identity: It should check the techniques used to check and verify the authenticity of the user before it can access the system; ensure that it is not possible to bypass the login procedure; reassigning a new session token on each login.
- Data encryption: The type of data encryption in use; points that require data encryption; what kind of data should be encrypted.
- Access to resources: the conditions mandatory for a user to access any information or other resources. Authorization of a user before granting access.
2. Penetration Testing
Pen testing allows you to attack your application or system as if a real-world hacker would try to sneak into your system with malicious intentions. The external aspects of an API are attacked, and an environment simulation takes place. Penetration testing helps to detect vulnerabilities in an application’s security system and assists in designing the policies and protocols accordingly. It helps to recognize the potential threats, arrange them in a priority of risk, allow experts to attack the system, and finally report the loopholes and the required solutions.
3. Fuzz Testing
Fuzz testing is a black-box testing methodology and a widespread way to test a web service. It involves finding errors using malformed data injections without the use of smart programs and tools. One can efficiently perform Fuzz testing on any kind of application. It can be done by sending massive requests and varying data to compromise security in as many ways as possible.
Following good API security practices aids in providing sufficient security to the API endpoints. API security testing is gradually becoming an essential part of the security of an application. As new technology becomes a trend, it is more vulnerable to risks, but awareness and appropriate precautions help keep a check on them without fail and secure the applications.