Top API Security
November 22, 2019

What Are the OWASP Top 10 API Risks?


To avoid API security risks and API threats, you need to know the OWASP top 10 API vulnerabilities. In this blog, we break down OWASP API security risks and how to prevent them.

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What Is OWASP API Security?

Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) compiles a list of API security risks every year. By preventing the top OWASP API security risks, you can protect your business. Understanding and mitigating these security risks is especially critical in the enterprise. 

Why API Security Risks and Threats Are Rising

The exponential growth of API usage in today’s digital world brings the risk of those APIs being vulnerable to attacks. Cyberattacks have become commonplace in today’s news, with multinational corporations making headlines for the wrong reasons due to a lack of API protection.

These data breaches can bring fines, litigation, and — possibly worst of all — damage to your reputation. It only takes one data leak for your brand to suffer irreparable damage.

To protect against threats and attacks, you need:


The OWASP Top 10 vulnerabilities, is a list produced by security experts around the globe to highlight the web application and API security risks that are deemed the most critical. Some vulnerabilities can be solved with SAST. Others can be solved with API management

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What Is the OWASP Top 10 API Threats List?

The OWASP Top 10 API list is as follows. Read along or jump to the vulnerability you want to explore:

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

1. Broken Object Level API Authorization

Broken object level authorization is characteristic of APIs exposes endpoints that handle object identifiers. This creates a wide attack surface Level Access Control issue.

So, how can you prevent this OWASP API security risk? 

Read more >> Broken Object Level Authorization

2. Broken API Authentication

When authentication mechanisms are implemented incorrectly, attackers can compromise authentication tokens or exploit implementation flaws to assume the identity of another user. This compromises the security to that particular user, as well as the overall API security.

3. API Threats Through Excessive Data Exposure

Developers may expose all their object properties without taking into consideration these properties’ individual sensitivities. Instead, they rely on the clients for data filtering before displaying it to the user.

4. Lack of Resources and Rate Limiting

If an API does not impose a restriction on the size or number of resources that a user/client can request, server performance can suffer. And it lead to a Denial of Service (DoS). This also creates an opportunity for authentication flaws such as brute force.

Read more >> Rate Limiting

5. Broken Function Level Authorization

Authorization flaws can arise from complex access control polices, different hierarchies/groups/roles, and a blurred distinction between administrative and regular functions. These issues allow attackers to gain access to other users’ resources and/or administrative functions.

6. Mass Assignment

When client-provided data (JSON, for example) is bound to data models without applying proper filtering properties, attackers are able to modify object properties they are not supposed to. This can be done by exploring API endpoints, guessing object properties, reading documentation, or using request payloads to provide additional object properties.

7. Security Misconfiguration

Misconfiguration can result from a number of common issues, including:

  • Insecure default configurations.
  • Open cloud storage.
  • Incomplete or ad-hoc configurations.
  • Misconfigured HTTP headers.

8. Malicious API Injection Threats

Injection flaws occur when a command or query causes untrusted data to be sent to an interpreter. Malicious data from an attacker can trick an interpreter into accessing data without proper authorization or executing unintended commands.

Read More >> Mitigating Malicious Code Injection

9. Improper Assets Management

Composing proper and updated documentation is critically important for APIs as they tend to expose more endpoints than traditional web applications. An inventory of deployed API versions and proper hosts can help mitigate common IT security risks like deprecated API versions and exposed debug endpoints.

10. Insufficient API Logging and Monitoring

This is perhaps the most exploited security vulnerability. Hackers rely on a lack of logging and monitoring to compromise data unnoticed. By the time the breach is detected, it is often too late.

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How to Prevent OWASP API Threats and Security Vulnerabilities

The best way to prevent OWASP API security vulnerabilities is to use an API management platform like Akana. 

With Akana, you can use automation to:

  • Apply security policies, such as OAuth.
  • Prevent OWASP API vulnerabilities.
  • Protect the data behind your applications.

How a Large Bank Prevents OWASP Vulnerabilities

Automating security was a top priority for a large bank. And they needed to prevent OWASP vulnerabilities, like injection. 

By choosing Akana as their API platform, the large bank was able to:

  • Prevent OWASP API security vulnerabilities.
  • Leverage OAuth authentication automatically.
  • Use throttling to improve performance.

Learn more about how the large bank used Akana to open new channels, keep up with market trends, and comply with requirements. Read the case study >>

Get Started With Akana For OWASP API Security

See for yourself how Akana makes it easy to prevent OWASP API security vulnerabilities and ensure security — without sacrificing speed.

In fact, by using Akana, you can accelerate time-to-market and gain a partner in your digital transformation strategy. 

See for yourself how Akana can help you.



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