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Top API Protection Tools

Top API Protection Tools

Some of the past decade’s most significant data breaches have resulted from an API attack. T-Mobile, Equifax, and Twitter have all fallen afoul of such attacks. Cyber attacks are rising – 94% of companies experienced API security problems in production APIs within the past year. With that, so too is the need for tools and technologies to protect them. According to OWASP, API tools fall into one of three categories: security posture, runtime security, and security testing. This article will explore one tool from each of those categories.

Security Posture: OWASP ZAP

OWASP ZAP (Zed Attack Proxy) is a widely used open-source tool for finding security vulnerabilities in web applications, including APIs. It helps organizations assess the security posture of their APIs by simulating real-world attacks and identifying potential weaknesses that malicious actors could exploit. Here’s how OWASP ZAP tests an organization’s API security posture:

Runtime Protection

API-specific runtime security  platforms provide security for APIs at runtime by monitoring and protecting against a wide range of threats and attacks. These tools operate within the application’s runtime environment and mainly focus on safeguarding APIs and the interactions they handle. Unlike traditional security tools that work at the network perimeter, API security tools can detect and mitigate attacks that target application vulnerabilities from within the application itself. Here’s an overview of API-specific runtime protection platforms:

Key Features and Functions:

  1. Real-time Threat Detection and Prevention: These platforms actively monitor real-time API calls and traffic. They can detect anomalies, suspicious behavior, and attacks targeting the API, such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and more. Upon detecting a threat, they can take action to prevent the attack from succeeding.
  2. Automated Defense Mechanisms: These tools can automatically respond to threats without manual intervention; this includes blocking malicious requests, terminating suspicious sessions, and adapting security policies on the fly.
  3. Vulnerability Mitigation: API security tools can identify and mitigate known vulnerabilities in APIs. Some may temporarily apply virtual patches to fix vulnerabilities until the actual code is updated.
  4. API Behavior Profiling: These tools build a profile of normal API behavior over time, enabling them to identify deviations from the norm that might indicate a security breach or attack.
  5. Security Monitoring and Reporting: API-specific runtime protection tools provide detailed insights into API traffic, security events, and attack attempts. This information helps security teams assess the overall security posture and respond to incidents effectively.
  6. Low False Positives: These tools minimize false positive alerts by having a deep understanding of the application’s behavior; this helps prevent legitimate API requests from being blocked.
  7. Support for Multiple APIs and Languages: Many API runtime security tools support a wide range of programming languages and frameworks, making them adaptable to different API environments.
  8. Integration with DevOps Practices: API-specific protection tools can be integrated into continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines, ensuring security throughout the development lifecycle.

Security Testing: Burp Scanner

Burp Scanner, a component of Burp Suite, is designed to dynamically evaluate the security of a running API by interacting with it and identifying vulnerabilities. Here’s a step-by-step overview of how Burp Scanner performs this process:

It’s important to note that while Burp Scanner is a powerful tool, it should be used in conjunction with manual security testing and understanding of the application’s context. Automated tools can identify potential vulnerabilities, but human expertise is needed to validate findings, interpret results, and assess the overall risk to the application.

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