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How to Ensure REST API Security?

How to Ensure REST API Security?

API or Application Programming Interface is the software of the intermediate type application that facilitates communication between two applications. REST or Representational State Transfer is a type of software architecture applied with HTTP communication. REST APIs or RESTful APIs maintain the laws of the REST architecture, which facilitates website servers and clients to use vast online resources. With the standard use of status codes and HTTP methods, REST APIs offer a standardization. Representational State Transfer has several uses across multiple web services. CMARIX offers reliable REST API Security at convenient and cheaper rates for their customers.

The API in a website opens up the interface before a web application. This condition unlocks security concerns on both – API access and application access. For the API access, appropriate authorization, authentication, accesses, and similar other features are necessary for access and restricted operations to specific clients at the interface. At the application access, assurance is required that the URL (application endpoints) is invulnerable to interface-bypassing attacks.

Protected API Access Confirmation

The majority of the APIs remain exposed to attacks from the Internet. These online attacks can gather and steal vital information and user data like bank details or tax records. Thus, proper security mechanisms might help in the safe-keeping of sensitive information and avert abuse. These APIs assure access only for authorized users.

Connection Protection

The HyperText Transfer Protocol or HTTP is a secured connection that provides SSL/TLS encryption. The Secure REST APIs must offer only HTTPS endpoints for assured encrypted API communication with SSL/TLS. Clients can validate the service while protecting the transmitted data along with the API credentials.

Access Control of the API

Access Control of the API

There are several web APIs available to authorized users. The access control for REST APIs remains under the control of local endpoints. REST APIs are stateless since they do not store a single bit of information regarding the current sessions or connections. They require registration and payment. Some of the standard REST API authentication methods include –

1. HTTP Basic Authentication

The HTTP headers receive the encryption-free, Base64 encoded credentials. This authentication method is as simple as insecure. The “plain text” confidential data must be combined and used with HTTPS.

2. JWT or JSON Web Tokens

The access parameters and their credentials are transmitted in the form of JSON data structures. These JWT are the best and preferred ways to access REST APIs’ access control as they can be assigned signatures through cryptography.

3. OAuth

This method can help in the authentication and authorization of the mechanism of OAuth 2.0.

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API Keys for User Authorization

The API keys provide access control to public REST services. Public web service operators can enforce API call rate limitations and remove “denial-of-service” assaults with these API keys. Therefore, these API keys can be helpful to firms on financial services where they can provide a “purchase access plan”- based access.

1. Client Restrictions over API

Client Restrictions over API

The service operators on REST must restrict client connections to the least capacity, which is necessary only for the service. It can help to reduce security risks to a minimum. The REST service operators ensure that – malicious and misconfigured clients fail to perform their actions if they cross over the specifications and access level established by the API. For instance, if an API offers access to only GET requests then, other requests like POST would be rejected, followed by the appearance of the response code 405 Method not allowed.

2. API-Exposing Applications Protected

While the application oversees the management of a session, the means to reach and use the resources are facilitated by RESTful web services. With legitimate access by the client, the underlying web application needs protection from malicious and malformed inputs. Confidential data should be controlled by the calls and responses of REST API.

3. Crucial Information in API Communication

Crucial Information in API Communication

Sensitive information like credentials, session tokens, API keys and others comprises API calls. Through direct URL inclusion, these vital details can be stored over web server logs. If cybercriminals access those logs, they can leak such crucial data online. Therefore, RESTful web services must send these data in the request body (for PUT and POST requests) or over header HTTP requests. CMARIX offers superb api integration solutions with reliable RESTful web services.

Read More: Most Time-Tested Practices To Boost The Performance And Security Of APIs

4. Validation over Content-Type

REST services must define accepted contents while rejecting incorrect HTTP header declaration requests. The user must take care while specifying the permitted types in the charset “Accept” and “Content-Type” header. The involvement of JavaScript in the service must assure that the content type on the header matches with the request body; to prevent header injection attacks.

5. Response Security Headers

Response Security Headers

The nature and character of the requests can be restricted with added HTTP security headers. They are “X-Content-Type-Options: nosniff” that can resist MIME sniffing-based XSS attacks and the “X-Frame-Options: deny” that can prevent the attempts for clickjacking in outdated browsers. Disabling CORS (cross-origin resource sharing) on the response headers occurs when cross-domain calls lack service support. The CORS headers must specify the origins of the calls with precision if they are to be expected.

6. Validation of Input

It is crucial to make sure the inputs are valid and expected for the user-free automated access of APIs. Non-conforming API specification requests should be rejected. Some of the appropriate input-validation guidelines are –

1. Distrusting all input data, including objects and parameters.

2. Utilize the availability of built-in validation.

3. Note the content type, length and request size.

4. If supportable, utilize strong typing for API parameters.

5. Use parameterized queries rather than building them manually to avoid SQL injection.

6. Whitelist string inputs and parameter values at any possible time.

7. Identify attempts over credential stuffing by logging all the failures of input validation.

The Importance of RestAPI Security

The crucial and fundamental backbone of conventional mobile and web development is the Web API. This application software helps in the exchange and communication of data over software and hardware platforms. Compared to other API formats that are still in use, the REST APIs dominate more than 80% of every public web APIs. The REST APIs play a back-end responsibility for most IoT devices and mobile applications. The API Integration for eCommerce is achievable with ease across multiple applications and systems.

However, REST APIs still remain vulnerable to similar attacks since they use the same technology used in web applications. Fortunately, testing these APIs can prove to be a challenge, with the probability of undocumented features and endpoints, since they lack the design for manual access. It is advisable to use precise automated tools over API security testing for assured complete coverage.

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Written by Atman Rathod

Atman Rathod is the Founding Director at CMARIX InfoTech, a leading web and mobile app development company with 17+ years of experience. Having travelled to 38+ countries globally and provided more than $40m USD of software services, he is actively working with Startups, SMEs and Corporations utilizing technology to provide business transformation.

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