Application Security Terminology

Glossary

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API Security

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Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) provide an interface between different software components, allowing content to be shared between applications. Additionally, applications talk to the server through APIs.

What does API security testing focus on?

APIs tend to be compromised similarly to breaches of other applications – via a form of injection attacks against API authentication followed by exploitation of excessive permissions. Since applications and APIs are becoming mission critical for most enterprises, businesses must ensure that API security testing is an integral part of the overall security strategy to identify and prevent API attacks.

The primary focus of the API security testing platforms is to find possible vulnerabilities in APIs, getting them fixed, and protecting APIs from potential vulnerabilities. The goal of an overall security strategy must be toembed application security ( DAST, SAST and SCA) within the Software Development Lifecyle as a part of the overarching API security strategy to help you write APIs that are secure from the inside out.

What are the most common API Security Testing best practices?

API security best practices include building security into all points of API development and using adaptive security. 

Here are some common API security testing best practices:

  • Have a well thought out strategy for authentication and authorization of the API requests.
  • Always ensure you’re testing your API for the same vulnerabilities as you would test in the web application.
  • API security testing should include source composition analysis to determine if the frameworks and libraries used to create the API have any known vulnerabilities.
  • Ensure that you have proper documentation on how to use and execute the API requests.


What are components of API security testing?

  • Authentication checks and confirms that a user has proper permissions to use your API. The user can access a web interface through the API by using a username, password, and possibly another identifier.
  • Access Control guarantees only specific users can access a specific API. By using an access control framework, you control the list of APIs each specific API key can access. This allows levels of access rather than a simple “access” or “no access” binary.
  • Encryption ensures that a request is protected in transit by scrambling or disguising information. That information is then made legible at the receiving end.
  • Manual API testing. A security expert should check the API during development and before the release.
  • Security testing for application layer attacks, such as code injection, cross-site scripting, and parameter pollution attacks, should be conducted.
  • Black-box testing is used to see how APIs handle unexpected requests and inputs.
  • Multiple tests and endpoints are used to ensure greater security rather than testing exclusively from a web browser.