WP How Web Applications Are Attacked Through APIs | Imperva

How Web Applications Are Attacked Through APIs

How Web Applications Are Attacked Through APIs

Happy Pi Day, everyone! As a technician, pi is a number that represents a constant. This constant reflects the ongoing cyberthreats that put enterprise assets at continuous risk as digital transformation and the resultant attack surface grow in parallel. Whether it’s a simple identity theft hack facilitated by a weak password or a complex state-sponsored cyber incident, security professionals are constantly working to master the defensive tools and techniques required to create a comprehensive security strategy.

The attack vector we’ll cover here is executed through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), software intermediaries that enable applications to communicate with one another. What about APIs make them so attractive as a vector for breaching web application security and what can we, as security professionals do about this threat? In this post, we’ll explain why cybercriminals are targeting APIs, why current application security practices are insufficient for managing the threat, and what technologies are currently available to overcome API security challenges.

Why cybercriminals target APIs

If history has taught us anything, it’s that there are no free rides when it comes to innovation. Fantastic web applications opened a gold mine of eCommerce revenue possibilities only to have bad bot attacks work to severely degrade the process. Collaboration technologies turn distributed teams into ultra-productive digital workforces only to have phishing attacks expose billions of pieces of sensitive personal data to exfiltration and theft. Today, cloud-native application development offers organizations unprecedented flexibility, speed, and lower costs. The cornerstones of this rapid cloud-native development process are APIs, and with good reason. APIs simplify low-level software layers and enable developers to focus on the core functionality of their applications. Across the enterprise, APIs both lower the barrier to entry for inexperienced developers and increase efficiency for more experienced people. Consequently, API use has risen considerably. Imperva Research Labs’ analysis of cloud WAF traffic showed the proportion of web traffic flowing from APIs has grown 30% in 2022, compared to the same period last year. As API traffic volume increases, it becomes a greater threat to an organization’s sensitive data. Motivated attackers will increasingly target APIs as the pathway to the underlying infrastructure and database.

Why Web Application Firewalls and DDoS protection are not enough to protect APIs

Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) and DDoS Protection have for some time been the de facto tools for safeguarding web applications. As digital transformation initiatives have intensified, developers have integrated elements such as microservices and open source tools into the application development process, dramatically increasing reliance on APIs. Unfortunately, organizations have limited insight into the security of the APIs that come with these new elements. DDoS protection is essential to stopping DDoS attacks where attackers are attempting to overwhelm an API with a lot of requests in a short amount of time. However, if you do not know the full schema or changes that have been made to the schema of an API facing a deluge of requests, you don’t know how it will respond to an attack. This compromises the effectiveness of any DDoS protection.

Achieve real API visibility and security

Imperva offers an easy-to-use tool that addresses the complex risks associated with APIs. Organizations can use Imperva API Security to create the visibility into APIs that is required to secure them. This tool provides full contextual data and tags and automatically determines risks around sensitive data without requiring development teams to publish APIs via OpenAPI or by adding resource-intensive workflow to their CI/CD processes. Security teams can incorporate a positive security model to protect their organization from API-based threats. Every time an API is updated, Imperva API Security informs security teams and helps them understand any new risks and incorporate changes. This leads to faster, more-secure software release cycles.

Imperva API Security automatically discovers each API’s full schema while identifying and classifying the data that flows through it and enhancing an organization’s security posture. It also enables continuous discovery of APIs and schema changes, automatically updating APIs as they change in production. The flexible deployment model provides protection for both public-facing and backend APIs in a single solution without slowing down development teams and works across legacy, hybrid, and cloud-native environments including Kubernetes, legacy monolithic apps, standalone microservices, and more. The tool also looks deeper and uncovers each API’s underlying payload to help security leaders enforce a governance model and mitigate potential data breaches.

Imperva API Security enables security teams to keep pace with innovation without impacting development velocity. The tool mitigates the risk of data breaches and data leakage by uncovering shadow APIs, and suggests remediation for software developers and security administrators.

Get more information directly from the experts

Imperva’s new webinar explains how this API security tool offers the right balance of visibility and protection that Security and DevSecOps teams require.

Join us on March 30 and learn about:

  • The trends driving rapid adoption of APIs and the emerging risk surface that results from an outdated API inventory
  • Where application security fits in protecting APIs and reducing risks
  • Which tools are best to cover each part of the OWASP API Top 10
  • A strategy to discover and classify every API in and out of production

Hear from two industry experts on API Security and how APIs have become the lingua franca of the Internet today, and why you need to act quickly to prevent data breaches. Reserve your spot today.