What is API Abuse ❓ Prevention measures.

Ivan Novikov
3 min readJan 18, 2022

APIs are paramount for constructing a steadfast and constant communication bridge that empowers devices to pass-on desired information seamlessly. Hackers adopt many ways to exploit the APIs and corrupt the targeted device. This API exploitation is a potential threat to API security and needs foremost attention while constructing utterly secured application development is the goal.

What is API abuse?

API abuse refers to the act of wrong-handling of APIs, gaining unsanctioned access, and modifying the key functions so that APIs can be used for adversarial processes like raiding a server or overburdening a server. It’s performed with the help of bots, phishing attacks, or manual insertion of malicious code.

Consequences of API abuse

A thriving API abuse permits hackers to achieve admin-like access to the targeted API. This access endows hackers to make API work as per their will. Hackers make use of existing API vulnerabilities to rob crucial private or business information while corrupting your websites or applications. In addition, one can take over the entire account or software ecosystem with a viable API abuse attack.

API abuse exists in many forms, a few examples are:

  • Injection Attacks

This method requires adding a piece of malicious code script in an API. The attack happened only on API featuring vulnerabilities. Presently, injection attackers are the most notorious abuse for web apps as well as APIs.

Currently, SQLi and XSS are the most common types of this attack in use. The code insertion can happen in the API code or in the API message.

  • DDoS Attacks

It is a key type of API abuse wherein the threat actor prevents legitimate access to a particular device or system. Hackers make this happen by encumbering APIs with huge traffic volumes. The traffic is sent with the help of a bot and asymmetrical processes.

This type of attack consumes system resources at a huge scale and makes them inaccessible to intended users. The Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack can occur at a slow pace, wherein negligible bandwidth is consumed, or at a fast speed as well. Either way, this type of API abuse tarnishes the reputation of the applications and systems as end-users fail to use them.

  • Data Exposure

APIs are used mainly to let 2 or more endpoints communication and share data whenever required. When API abuse happens, the information warehoused in the APIs is likely to be exposed to ill resources. RESTful APIs are more prone to this hander as they transfer data over HTTP protocol.

How to prevent API abuse?

The outcomes of API abuse are deadly and hold the power to crush the entire IT ecosystem of the target. Hence, one must always remain aware of every possible solution of the ‘How do you prevent abuse of your public API?’ issue. Here are some tips that actually work:

  • Every API call coming from bots should be monitored and managed through and through. As most API abuse happens with the help of bots, API calls made from bots shouldn’t be entertained casually.
  • API authentication and authorization of the highest grade should be implemented.
  • The API login process must have the backing of 2FA and robust encryption.
  • The entire API path should be watched over carefully to spot any vulnerability in the infancy stage.
  • For effective fault tolerance, one must adopt the cluster API implementation process.

All sorts of APIs, public or private, SOAP or REST, and many more should have effective API security measures in place. Tools like Wallarm make this happen as it offers every necessary resource to keep API vulnerabilities at a minimum level and keep API abuse probabilities as low as possible.

Originally published at https://www.wallarm.com.



Ivan Novikov

CEO at Wallarm. Application security platform to prevent threats and discover vulnerabilities in a real-time.