API Security - Injection Vulnerability

Sun Jun 05 2022

2 min read

API security is the process of protecting APIs from attacks. As APIs are very commonly used, so it is prone to attackers. API vulnerabilities are a common thing that can break down your whole system if not treated. APIs may have vulnerabilities like broken authentication and authorization, insufficient logging and monitoring, lack of rate limiting, etc. Regularly testing APIs will help you to identify vulnerabilities, and address them.

According to the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), there are ten API vulnerabilities that should be taken care of when you build an API. In this guide, let’s look at the Injection vulnerability.

API Injection Vulnerability

Injection is a type of vulnerability that affects most applications and API systems. It is the underlying issue for a large number of vulnerabilities e.g. SQL injection, OS command injection, and XML injection.

It occurs when an application cannot properly distinguish between untrusted user data and code that can be HTTP request parameters, HTTP headers, and cookies. These vulnerabilities can affect API systems as well because an API is another way through which an untrusted user input can enter an application.

Injection’s Impact

Injection can cause serious issues. A few of them are as under:

  • Database leaks
  • Authentication issues
  • Full takeover of the system
  • Denial of Service (DoS)
  • Attackers may carry out remote code execution
  • Attackers may also create new functionality etc.

How To Prevent It?

Injections are difficult to prevent as even if the malicious user data is not used by the application right away, the untrusted data can eventually travel somewhere in the program. This untrusted data can do something bad, such as a dangerous function or an unprotected query. And this is where they cause damage to the application, its data, or its users.

Still there are certain practices that you can adopt that can aid in preventing injection vulnerability in multiple ways.

  • You should always define, limit, and enforce API outputs to prevent data leaks. This is one of the keys of preventing attacks due to injection.
  • You should always treat any input as being compromised and should filter, validate and verify every input to your API through all ways, this includes third party inputs or non direct inputs such as importing files. This will avoid injection vulnerability from taking place.
  • Trusting API consumers is a huge red flag. You should never trust your API consumers, even if they are internal. This will ensure protection against injection attacks.
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