APIs Are the Next Frontier in Cybercrime

APIs Are the Next Frontier in Cybercrime

APIs make your systems easier to run — and make it easier for hackers, too. Let’s explore some of the API vulnerabilities that get exploited and abused by hackers, and I’ll share some easy tips for you to consider to close those gaps.

APIs make your systems easier to run — and make it easier for hackers, too.

API usage has exploded, and cybercriminals are increasingly taking advantage of API security flaws to commit fraud and steal data.

APIs make everything a bit easier — from data sharing to system connectivity to delivery of critical features and functionality — but they also make it much easier for the bad actors (and the bad bots they deploy) to carry out attacks.

Let’s explore some of the API vulnerabilities that get exploited and abused by hackers, and I’ll share some easy tips for you to consider to close those gaps.

Too Easy to Discover

When I’m in hacker mode, the first thing I do is identify as many APIs as possible. I start by using the target application as expected. Web applications get opened in a browser; mobile apps are download and installed. All the while, I monitor the communications with an intercept proxy.

The intercept proxy catches all the requests my browser or mobile app makes to the backend webservers, allowing me to catalog all the API endpoints available. For instance, most APIs have /API/V1/login as an authentication endpoint.

If the target is also a mobile app, I take the application package apart and look at the API calls available inside the application. With all the possible activity in view, I can search for common misconfigurations or APIs that don’t protect user data correctly.

Finally, I look for API documentation. Some organizations publish API documents for third parties, but use the same API endpoints for all users.

With a decent inventory of the endpoints, I can test both standard user behavior and abnormal behavior testing. You can find interesting vulnerabilities through both methods.

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