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Application Programming Interface.

Sept 25 2021

Application Programming Interface Blog Article

What is application programming interface ?

An API is defined as a specification of possible interactions with a software component. What does that mean, exactly? Well, imagine that a car was a software component. Its API would include information about what it can
do-accelerate, brake, turn on the radio, etc. It would also include information about how you could make it do those things. For instance, to accelerate, you put your foot on the gas pedal and push.

The API doesn’t have to explain what happens inside the engine when you put your foot on the accelerator. That’s why, if you learned to drive a car with an internal combustion engine, you can get behind the wheel of an electric car without having to learn a whole new set of skills. The what and how information come together in the API definition, which is abstract and separate from the car itself. One thing to keep in mind is that the name of some APIs is often used to refer to both the specification of the interactions and to the actual software component you interact with. The phrase “Twitter API,” for example, not only refers to the set of rules for programmatically interacting with Twitter, but is generally understood to mean the thing you interact with, as in “We’re doing analysis on the tweets we got from the Twitter API.

Application programming interfaces consist of two components:

Technical specification describing the data exchange options between solutions with the specification done in the form of a request for processing and data delivery protocols

Software interface written to the specification that represents it
The software that needs to access information (i.e., X hotel room rates for certain dates) or functionality (i.e., a route from point A to point B on a map based on a user’s location) from another software, calls its API while specifying the requirements of how data/functionality must be provided. The other software returns data/functionality requested by the former application.
And the interface by which these two applications communicate is what the API specifies.

The API doesn’t have to explain what happens inside the engine when you put your foot on the accelerator. That’s why, if you learned to drive a car with an internal combustion engine.

The Red Hat specialists note that APIs are sometimes considered contracts, where documentation is an agreement between the parties: “If party first sends a remote request structured a particular way, this is how the second party’s software will respond.” The API documentation is a manual for developers that includes all necessary information on how to work with the API and use the services it provides. We will talk more about the documentation in one of the next sections. Each API contains and is implemented by function calls – language statements that request software to perform particular actions and services. Function calls are phrases composed of verbs and nouns.
for example:
Start or finish a session
Get amenities for a single room type
Restore or retrieve objects from a server.

Why it is necessary to secure API

When there is no emphasis on API security, we see negative impact likecustomer accounts being taken over, exposed application logic, fraud, data breaches,performance issues, control systems being taken over, and compromised internal infrastructures. The main reason for these API breaches is man-in-the-middle,xssor SQL injection and DDoS attacks. Businesses use APIs to connect services and to transfer data. Broken, exposed, or hacked APIs are behind major databreaches. They expose sensitive medical, financial, and personal data for public consumptionLot’s of users use API in their daily lives without minimum knowledge of it which has turned to be an asset to the hackers to breach in. Broken, exposed, or hacked APIs are behind major data breaches. Theyexpose sensitive medical, financial, and personal data for public consumption. Thatsaid, not all data is the same nor should be protected in the same way. How you approach API security will depend on what kind of data is being transferred.

Types of APIs

Private APIs.
These application software interfaces are designed for improving solutions and services within an organization. In-house developers or contractors may use these APIs to integrate a company’s IT systems or applications, build new systems or customer-facing apps leveraging existing systems. Even if apps are publicly available, the interface itself remains available only for those working directly with the API publisher. The private strategy allows a company to fully control the API usage.
Partner APIs.
Partner APIs are openly promoted but shared with business partners who have signed an agreement with the publisher. The common use case for partner APIs is software integration between two parties. A company that grants partners with access to data or capability benefits from extra revenue streams. At the same time, it can monitor how the exposed digital assets are used, ensure whether third-party solutions using their APIs provide decent user experience, and maintain corporate identity in their apps.
Public APIs.
Also known as developer-facing or external, these APIs are available for any third-party developers. A public API program allows for increasing brand awareness and receiving an additional source of income when properly executed. There are two types of public APIs – open (free of charge) and commercial ones. The Open API Definition suggests that all features of such an API are public and can be used without restrictive terms and conditions. For instance, it’s possible to build an application that utilizes the API without explicit approval from the API supplier or mandatory licensing fees. The definition also states that the API description and any related documentation must be openly available, and that the API can be freely used to create and test applications.

API breaching results to

1. Broken Authentication
2. Excessive Data Exposure
3. Lack of Resources and Rate Limiting
4. Missing Function/Resource Level Access Control
5. Mass Assignment
6. Security Misconfiguration
7. Injection
8. Improper Assets Management
9. Insufficient Logging and Monitoring

How is Penetration Testing Performed on APIs?

Primarily, during API penetration testing, one should test an API’s functions/methods, how they could be breached, and how authorization and authentication could be bypassed. It is mandatory to see if we can cause any form of command injection, or even XSS, if the function’s response renders data on the page. We put APIs through these types of tests in hopes of revealing any security vulnerabilities that might exist.

Many security analysts who aren’t experienced in API penetration testing will try to attack the API with a vulnerability scan, but it doesn’t work that way. Even with the proper tools, penetration testers who don’t have the appropriate API knowledge won’t know what to do because they can’t interpret the data they receive. penetration testers should have the background in programming and development that’s needed provide a thorough, proper assessment for a SOAP or REST API.Tester must go through the API, function by function, to think of ways that an attacker could leverage our vulnerabilities. Every API is different, and tester should be prepared to perform diligent, advanced API penetration testing to protect organization.


SwiftSafe Blog Author

Author

James Maverick

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