Top 3 API security risks and how to mitigate them
Blog|by Leanne Bevan|22 June 2023
APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) play a crucial role in enabling seamless communication between different software systems. However, with their increasing popularity, API security risks have become a significant concern for businesses. In this blog post, we will explore the top three API security risks that IT Journalist, Phil Muncaster*, recommends organisations need to be aware of, along with effective mitigation strategies.
Unauthorised Access and Data Breaches
APIs often handle sensitive data, making them attractive targets for cybercriminals. Unauthorised access can lead to devastating data breaches and compromise user information. To mitigate this risk, organisations should implement the following measures:
- Secure Authentication and Authorisation: Implement robust authentication mechanisms such as OAuth or JWT (JSON Web Tokens) to ensure that only authorised users and systems can access the API. Implement multi-factor authentication for added security.
- Role-Based Access Control (RBAC): Implement RBAC to limit access privileges based on user roles and responsibilities. This ensures that each user has appropriate access rights and reduces the risk of unauthorised access to critical data.
- Regular Security Audits: Perform regular security audits to identify vulnerabilities in the API infrastructure. Conduct thorough penetration testing to identify potential entry points for attackers and promptly address any discovered vulnerabilities.
Injection attacks, such as SQL injection or command injection, occur when malicious code is inserted into API requests. This can lead to unauthorised access, data loss, or even complete system compromise. To mitigate injection attack risks, organisations should adopt the following best practices:
- Input Validation and Sanitisation: Implement strict input validation and sanitisation techniques to ensure that user-supplied data is free from malicious code. Use parameterised queries and prepared statements to prevent SQL injection attacks.
- Web Application Firewalls (WAFs): Deploy a WAF to monitor and filter incoming API requests. A well-configured WAF can detect and block malicious input before it reaches the API, adding an extra layer of protection against injection attacks.
- API Security Testing: Regularly test APIs for vulnerabilities and potential injection attack vectors. Conduct comprehensive security assessments to identify and address any weaknesses in the API’s input validation and sanitisation processes.
Lack of Secure Data Transmission
APIs often transmit sensitive data over networks, making them vulnerable to interception and eavesdropping by attackers. To ensure secure data transmission, organisations should implement the following safeguards:
- Transport Layer Security (TLS): Utilise TLS protocols (preferably TLS 1.3) to encrypt data in transit and protect it from interception. Implement strong cipher suites, disable outdated protocols, and regularly update TLS configurations.
- Secure Token Transmission: Avoid sending sensitive data, such as passwords or API keys, in clear text. Instead, use secure token-based authentication mechanisms to transmit sensitive information securely.
- API Gateway Security: Implement an API gateway that acts as a central entry point for API requests. The gateway can enforce encryption, validate SSL certificates, and perform additional security checks to ensure secure data transmission.
Protecting APIs from security risks is essential for organisations to safeguard their sensitive data and maintain the trust of their users. By addressing unauthorised access, injection attacks, as well as ensuring secure data transmission, businesses can significantly reduce the risk of API-related security breaches. Stay proactive, regularly audit API security, and implement robust mitigation strategies to stay one step ahead of potential threats.
You can do this with the help of cyber security solutions like ESET which offers encryption, endpoint detection and response, as well as a number of other solutions and services. Plus, we recommend you contact us about Secure Impact, a company that provides penetration testing as well as cyber security health check services.
Fill in the form below to arrange a cyber security conversation with one of our cyber security experts who can discuss the different options available to you. Alternatively, reach out to us directly:
Call: +44 (0) 1364 654 100
*From an article Phil Muncaster wrote for ESET’s We Live Security blog.
Contact Grey Matter
If you have any questions or want some extra information, complete the form below and one of the team will be in touch ASAP. If you have a specific use case, please let us know and we'll help you find the right solution faster.
Watch this webinar recording, “Beyond password protection: document security with Acrobat Pro”, hosted by our partner Adobe to learn the various ways Adobe Acrobat Pro and Microsoft can help you keep your PDFs and their sensitive information safe. In the...
With Microsoft Maps, retail businesses can obtain accurate location data, generate new insights, and optimize their logistics operations.
Fri 15 March 2024 9:30 am - 4:00 pm GMT
Get ready to flex your strategic minds and sharpen your cyber security defences at an exclusive event hosted by Grey Matter and ESET. Join us for an afternoon of insightful learning and exhilarating gaming as we explore the powerful synergy...
The new HERE Platform enables developers to deliver more advantages for their location-based apps, and create intelligent routing solutions. Read the benefits of the Platform here.