Common OpenAPI Threats and How to Avoid Them

Common OpenAPI Threats and How to Avoid Them

APIs make it possible for applications to gain access to large amounts of data, some of which might be sensitive customer data. They bypass browser precautions and typical prevention methods such as browser fingerprint and captchas since they have to handle a large number of API calls for each consumer. 

However, even though OpenAPIs come with much more advantages in terms of security and stability, they also face a number of threats. But before we get to the threats, do you know how you can convert your existing APIs to OpenAPI? There are a number of tools available, among them is apitransform.com that will seamlessly allow you to convert your Postman collection to OpenAPI. That way, you will be able to save time while writing code, collaborate, and ensure the quality of your APIs. In this article, we will discuss the most common OpenAPI threats and how to avoid them.

1. Insecure API Key Generation

APIs are mostly protected by some kind of JSON Web Token or API key which provides a way through which one can protect and track their APIs. This way, they can implement security tools that are able to detect any abnormalities with the API and block access to the API key automation. However, hackers have tried to use a large pool of API keys from different users in order for them to outsmart these security mechanisms, leading to security threats to an API.

To avoid these kinds of threats, developers should require one to sign up before they can generate API keys. They can also use things like 2-Factor authentication and Captcha to prevent bots from signing up. 

2. Pagination Attacks

OpenAPIs provide one with access to resources such as lists of entities. A client will then filter and paginate through the list to return a limited number of items to the client. In some instances, that entity might have other information that a hacker could scrape and get a dump of all the entities in your database. This would definitely be dangerous since those entities could expose personal and sensitive information and provide competitors with a way of accessing your information for their own use.

To avoid pagination attacks, one should make sure that they are tracking the number of items of a single resource that are being accessed within a certain period of time for each user rather than tracking at the request level only. This way, one will be able to block any user that hits the set threshold.

3. DDoS Attacks

APIs have created a business model where customers are able to gain access to an API platform programmatically. This makes it difficult to protect them from DDoS attacks. DDoS protection is mostly designed to reject and absorb a large number of requests during attacks. However, the DDoS protection still needs to let through requests by fingerprinting the HTTP requests to reject bot traffic. This process is quite difficult for API products since all the traffic looks like bot traffic. 

Stopping DDoS attacks requires an API Key. The good thing with this is that almost every API access requires an API Key. If a request does not have an API Key, you can automatically reject it. For authenticated requests, you can use rate limit counters for each API Key and reject those that hit the set threshold.

4. Server Security

APIs are just like web servers in relation to server security. Allowing non-HTTPS traffic or even misconfigured SSL certificates might expose data to unauthorized personnel. With modern applications, it is not easy for one to accept non-HTTPS requests. However, a customer could issue one by mistake from their application leading to the exposure of the API Key. You need to remember that APIs lack browser protection, making things like redirecting to HTTPs and HSTS useless when it comes to API protection.

To ensure correct server security, you need to test your SSL implementation using different tools available today. You should also make sure that all non-HTTP requests are blocked - this can be done easily using your load balancer. Any HTTP headers should also be removed as well as any error messages that might expose implementation details. These measures will serve to make sure that your OpenAPIs are safe from any server-side attacks.

Finally, it is always good practice to make sure that any authenticated user has the authorization to access all the resources required to generate an API response. You can do this using ACL (Access Control Lists) or even checking against their user IDs. Other common OpenAPI threats to look for include accidental key exposure, incorrect caching headers, poor handling of authorization, and insecure internal endpoints. With all these threats taken care of, you can be sure that your API will perform to its expectations.

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