API Testing

Burp Suite vs. OWASP ZAP - Which is Better for API Security Testing?

April 10, 2022
6 mins

Cyberattacks have been on the rise with over 600% increase in attacks the first quarter of 2022, and new vulnerabilities continue to be discovered every day. 

It's no wonder that 62% of organizations have slowed their production of new applications due to the uncertainty surrounding their API security.

That’s why API security testing is a necessity for ensuring secure web applications. And two tools that come in handy for this are Burp Suite and OWASP ZAP.

Both of these tools are incredibly powerful and can be used to find vulnerabilities in APIs. However, they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. 

In this article, we will look at the core features of these two API security testing tools and compare them side-by-side.

TLDR Key Takeaways

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What Is Burp Suite?

Developed by Portswigger Inc., Burp Suite is a powerful and versatile tool for performing security testing of web applications. 

The software consists of a large number of tools interconnected by a multitude of interfaces aimed at facilitating and accelerating the attack process. Plus, you can increase Burp's capabilities with add-ons, referred to as BApps.

From initial mapping and analysis to identifying vulnerabilities in your application's codebase, the integrated platform supports the entire testing process.

Burp Suite is a great place to start if you're new to API security testing. It's easy to use and contains all the tools you need to get started.

What Is OWASP Zap?

OWASP ZAP is a free and open-source security tool that helps you automatically find and fix vulnerabilities in your APIs. 

ZAP can be used to scan for common web application vulnerabilities, such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting, and also provides an interface for custom security testing.

From beginners to professionals wanting more control over their projects, it's an easy and flexible solution that anyone can use. Plus, it can be seamlessly integrated into your existing workflows. 

Burp Suite vs. OWASP ZAP: Comparing Core Features

As two of the most popular API security testing tools, Burp Suite and OWASP ZAP both have a lot to offer users. But how do they compare when it comes to core features?

Here's a quick cheat sheet that shows exactly how these two tools compare:

Automation 

Burp Suite and OWASP ZAP are both powerful tools for automating web application security testing. However, the slight edge goes to ZAP due to its automation framework. 

In one of its more recent updates, ZAP has been revised to use a new automation framework, where ZAP can be controlled with one YAML file.

This gives you more flexibility without being tied down to any particular container technology, such as Kubernetes or OpenShift. It's also easy to automate the ZAP security scans, so you can integrate them directly into your CI/CD pipelines. 

To be fair, Burp Suite offers both automated and semi-automated processes that work in tandem with manual tooling, but it's not as comprehensive as ZAP. 

Coverage

In terms of coverage, both Burp Suite and OWASP ZAP are very effective at finding common web application vulnerabilities. 

However, Burp Suite has greater flexibility and a range of features, meaning it's more likely to find more types of vulnerabilities in a given application. 

OWASP ZAP also offers comprehensive coverage, but pen-testers will need to add some add-ons to ZAP's scanning engine to improve its ability to detect the OWASP vulnerabilities.

Scalability

When it comes to scalability, these two tools are pretty neck and neck.

Burp Suite Enterprise is designed to scale up to large-scale testing engagements. It can be used to test hundreds of applications concurrently and can be deployed in a distributed fashion across multiple machines. 

However, the upgrade to Burp Suite's Enterprise Edition comes with a higher price tag.

OWASP ZAP is also scalable but is not quite as flexible as Burp Suite in terms of concurrent testing and distributed deployment. However, its automation, add-ons, and constant updates make it a competitive alternative.

Accuracy

One of the most important aspects of a security tool is its accuracy, and both Burp Suite and OWASP ZAP have been extremely accurate in their findings. 

There are, however, a few key factors that we want to point out. The first is that OWASP ZAP is great for finding some common vulnerabilities, but it has some limitations regarding the scope of its scans.

While it's accurate for what it scans, it's still missing potential vulnerabilities.

Additionally, some users find that Burp Suite's automated scanner produces fewer false positives than OWASP ZAP's.

Costs

This is where OWASP ZAP gains a clear advantage over Burp Suite because ZAP is a free tool, period.

Burp Suite does offer a free edition of its tool (Community), but it's very limited in features and capabilities. However, the other editions, Professional ($449/year) and Enterprise (starts at $8,395/year), unlock even more features.

Overall, OWASP ZAP is a good choice for organizations with limited budgets.

Alternatives to Burp Suite and ZAP for the Best API Security Testing Solution

There are some vulnerabilities that even these tools (and their add-ons) still can't uncover, like those pesky business logic flaws. 

This isn't a problem for APIsec. In fact, our AI-powered technology can automatically uncover business logic flaws that other solutions miss. 

How do we do this? By deeply analyzing every corner of your API using:

  • API Analyzer: To ensure we're testing every surface of your API, we learn your API's unique architecture—breaking down to every endpoint, call, and input parameter so that the engine knows how best to attack.
  • ‍API Attacker: Instead of focusing on the most common attacks, we create thousands of custom attack scenarios unique to your API, giving them unprecedented coverage. 
  • ‍‍API Scanner: This engine searches for anything unexpected in the tests generated by API Attacker and generates a report, making it easy to identify any potential problems.

See how we do it:

In addition, APIsec is more affordable than Burp Suite. With APIsec, you can get started with a free trial, so you can see for yourself how effective it is before committing to a paid plan.

If you're serious about finding a powerful and comprehensive solution for API security testing, then look no further than APIsec. 

Get in contact with our team and start securing every corner of your API.

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