Exposure Management
3 Min

Protecting the "Invisible" Attack Surface of APIs with Exposure Management

Protecting the "Invisible" Attack Surface of APIs with Exposure Management

API abuses have become a frequent attack vector due to the widespread use of APIs in modern applications and the significant access they provide to data and functionality. Here’s how security teams can protect this somewhat "invisible" attack surface.

Types of Risky API Assets

APIs come in various forms, each with unique security challenges. Public APIs are exposed to the internet and often poorly secured, making them prime targets for attackers. Internal APIs are used within an organization but can be accessed by insiders or through compromised systems, posing internal threat risks. Third-Party APIs integrate with external services, which might have varying security postures, leading to potential security gaps. Legacy APIs are older and might not have been updated to incorporate modern security practices, making them vulnerable to exploitation. Additionally, Unsecured Endpoints are APIs lacking proper authentication, authorization, or encryption, offering easy entry points for attackers.

Why APIs are Attractive to Hackers

  • Data Access: APIs can provide direct access to sensitive data, such as personal information, financial records, and intellectual property.
  • Functionality Manipulation: Attackers can manipulate API calls to perform unauthorized actions, such as transferring funds, altering data, or triggering actions in connected systems.
  • Automation: APIs can be automated, making it easier for attackers to scale their attacks and exploit vulnerabilities efficiently.
  • Complexity: The interconnected nature of APIs and the complexity of their interactions make it challenging to secure every endpoint comprehensively.

Types of Risky API Assets

Remediation and Controls

Proactive Monitoring with Exposure Management Platforms

Exposure management platforms like NST Assure CTEM provide comprehensive visibility and continuous monitoring capabilities, helping organizations identify and mitigate risks associated with APIs. For public APIs, these platforms enable organizations to gain visibility into all publicly accessible APIs, ensuring that only intended APIs are exposed. Continuous monitoring helps detect signs of abuse, anomalous behavior, and unauthorized access attempts. When it comes to third-party APIs, these platforms allow for tracking and monitoring their usage to ensure compliance with security policies and best practices. They can also evaluate the security posture of third-party APIs and detect any changes that might introduce new risks. Using exposure management platforms to track the lifecycle of legacy APIs ensures they are updated or decommissioned in a timely manner, and continuous monitoring helps detect known vulnerabilities in legacy APIs and implement compensating controls. Automated discovery features in these platforms can detect unsecured endpoints that lack proper authentication, authorization, or encryption, ensuring that all identified endpoints are secured according to best practices and organizational policies. By integrating exposure management platforms into their security strategy, organizations can achieve proactive and continuous monitoring of their API ecosystem, reducing the risk of inadvertent exposures and enhancing their overall security posture.

By ensuring that all types of APIs are thoroughly monitored, NST Assure enhances the overall management and security of an organization's API assets from outside.

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