Data and the way you use it can determine the success of your company in the long run – efficient applications with access to the right data and precise Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are both your strongest point and weakest point when facing customers and hackers respectively.
The more sensitive data you use, financial or medical records, the more adept you’re required to be when dealing with APIs as they may contain vulnerable backdoors or loopholes for manipulative forces to enter and exploit your services. Even a single error can bring down the entire line of applications that may rely on it, negatively impacting your organization as well as those who are dependent on you for their business.
This is why you need periodic API security testing to make sure that all applications are functioning smoothly, not vulnerable to hacking attempts, or facing leaks of sensitive information. This will include scanning in regular intervals, with an eye on common symptoms of compromising situations and other suspicious activities, possible vulnerabilities and backdoors, etc.
How does the security testing process work?
There are a couple of parameters one needs to keep in mind before stepping forward with API security testing, to ensure that the right objectives are outlined within the resources available for implementing these strategies and the necessary points of the API workflow are tested.
- When a particular input is provided to the API, it should provide the output it’s designed to provide
- There are only certain inputs that should be accepted, within a given range, so the API must be able to reject those values that are don’t fall within the range and are not inclusive
- If the input field doesn’t require a null value, then it should be rejected
These are simple conditions to be met when designing and testing the security of an API, but it can be surprising how many organizations don’t test for these, leaving these loopholes for forceful intrusion and malware, to mention the least. There’s always risk associated with designing APIs, so special care should be taken to ensure that it behaves the exact way you expect it to with minimum to zero potential risks for the data of your customers.
You may not be completely aware of how API works entirely since it mostly functions as a black box, but just ensuring that the right workflow is followed can make a huge difference in terms of security.
Couple of tips that can also be kept in mind when designing the objectives of the API security testing are:
Testing the functions and workflows of APIs can bring out certain vulnerabilities – but not all. For the full picture, you need to perform something similar to a penetration testing procedure that will simulate a hacking scenario very similar to the real one for finding out maximum information about the system to be tested.
We don’t always think of the multiple ways of getting hacked, mostly because we lack the time and in-depth knowledge to cover every possibility. But, apart from hiring a trusted security expert knowledgeable in the situation, you can always check on resources online, including reading details about similar situations that may have occurred before (which has, in plenty).
This will give a good idea of the potential API vulnerabilities that may arise in different applications depending on the design of the source code or the purpose for which it was built, and customize for your needs accordingly. You can even use this information to design tests that will hack your system for more information!
You also need a good idea about the kind of security problems you’re facing in general. For this, you can easily take up the wide range of information provided by the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) Top 10 project, designed to provide a list of the top ten security issues that one must be cautious about and has affected most customers online. You can use tools that can help you to achieve it.
Why do you need to do this?
If you don’t want massive data losses and compromises of your organization’s integrity when someone steals the sensitive data of your customers, this is a must needed step. It will cause short-term and long-term data lags if you had neglected it in the first place and are now forced to deal with the repercussions, possibly losing your customers during the process.
Despite all of this reading up, testing, remediation measures, and understanding the workflow, there’s only so much protection you can provide, and a determined hacker may still break into your secure barricades. The point is, constant vigilance, updates, even more testing, and knowing what looks suspicious are key to maintaining a secure online presence in terms of API.
Ethical hacking, constant supervision, knowledge about the latest threats, and possible integration of API with automated features to avoid manual errors can keep the security threats at a bay, even when you engage in frequent code changes or repairs to the system.
If all of this seems overwhelming, you know you can rest at ease with Astra Security!