18 June 2021

How API Attacks work and how can we prevent them?

By DICC Institute

API attack is nothing but a hostage usage or can even be termed as an attempted hostile usage of the present API. There are several ways through which attackers can misuse your API. The main part that is mostly targeted is the API endpoint that is highly considered to be misused every time such a situation is been encountered. Lets us see the few ways through which the API endpoint is been encountered.

Also Read: Social Engineering in Penetration Testing and Buffer Overflow Attack and its Prevention

How API Works?

#1. Injection Attacks:

The injection attack is something that occurs when the malicious code is embedded in the contact of unsecured software. The most prominent example is SQLi (SQL injection) and XSS (Cross-site scripting). But apart from these two, there are several other examples present in the market too. The injection attack is even termed as a long-standing threat against the web application according to many professional or experts. In today’s scenario, the threat of injection attack is one of the greatest problems faced by most APIs.

#2. DoS/DDoS Attacks:

In this attack which is termed as denial of service (DoS) or distributed denial of service (DDoS), the attacker attempts to make the system unavailable which is been targeted to the intended users currently using it. It can be easily termed that it has a wide variation of the possible scale. If we look at the situation properly then the slow DoS attack can exhaust the users’ resources to an extreme depth and all this is possible with the use of very little bandwidth. While on the other hand if we see a DDoS attack then it can assault several terabits per second that is part of the main traffic in here. So in short when these things occur in possible prominent websites they cause a lot of damage and thus gains huge publicity too. At last, both DoS and DDoS attacks are growing with a fast frequency against the API endpoints as well.

#3. Authentication Hijacking:

In this attack popularly known as authentication Hijacking, the attackers attempt to bypass or we can say break the popular authentication methods that the web application is currently in use of. 

#4. Data exposure:

As we are already aware of the fact the website deal with sending as well as receiving sensitive data such as credit information, passwords, session tokens, private health information and much more than all these information. So, in this case, if the user does not handle the data correctly like with encryption transit, then the security of the data can be compromised at some level. This concern is mainly noticed in the RESTful APIs that mainly use HTTP as the underlying protocol. The HTTP mainly includes several operations that are potentially vulnerable. Thus, the attackers can craft any malicious attack/requests, control message mapping and even manipulate the response that is mainly generated by the backend system.

#5. Parameter Tampering:

Here the attacker attempts to manipulate the parameter mainly exchanged between the clients and the server. So, the main goal here is to modify the application information such as the credential data, important permissions, price and the quantity of the very product etc.

Also Read: How to use Shodan Search Engine? and How does Darkside Ransomware work?

How to prevent API Attacks?

All the ways mentioned above can be used by the attacker to harm the APIs but few prevention techniques are there that can help the user in protecting their APIs. Let’s look at those prevention techniques one by one.  

#1. Diagnostics:

This is the first thing that can be done as many known enterprises are already in practice to use this method to prevent attacks on their APIs. The first and most important thing that is required here is proper monitoring to detect any kind of problem. It’s even interesting to find the general issues associated while the implementation which is mostly considered as a mistake. This is mainly caused by a higher level of efforts used to gain access to the credentials. This is seen in regular time if the data available is high in action. Encrypting the traffic to stop this kind of attack.

#2. Out of band notification:

This is one of the countermeasures against the APIs which is the receiving system in which notification is achieved which is more like a source of information to the user. The first time the user start using this platform he/she must put out their phone number in which they want to receive the information in form of the notifications.

#3. Two-factor Authentication:

This is also one of the countermeasures against APIs. It is a great way that could be used to integrate the system with the help of OTP received on your registered phone number. This is somewhat similar to Google authentication or the other systems. Many providers use this two-way authentication method such as Google, Apple, Microsoft or AWS. These platforms use two-factor authentication in their respective accounts. The concept of OTP is highly appreciated at this very point.

Also Read: Top Ethical Hacking & Security E-Books and Cyber Security Certification Courses


I hope all the information been shared above was kind of useful to all my readers out there. 

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