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API Design

Dan Barahona
API Testing

Shift Left Security: The Ultimate Guide

GitHub estimates that developers outnumber security professionals 500 to 1, meaning organizations need to integrate shift left security measures into their development to stay competitive. The use of traditional testing is often not in line with DevOps, which emphasizes delivering features and updates from one production stage to the next without unnecessary delays. How did they fix this? By implementing agile methodologies, like shift left, into DevOps practices. Shifting left means integrating testing and security activities into every relevant stage of development, from design to production. How Shift Left Impacts Security Shifting security left means taking a new approach to how DevSecOps teams develop and design software. The goals of this shift are simple: Build security best practices into your process from start-to-finish Detect potential issues as early in the lifecycle as possible Fix problems quickly without expensive miscalibrations later down the line Maintain an affordable price point for any company or organization To do this effectively and efficiently, developers must be aware of what they need during each stage to avoid gaps in their defenses against vulnerabilities that malicious actors could use. Integrating CI/CD into SDLC The adoption of CI/CD transforms the SDLC as it automates and monitors every step of the development process, from code integration to live production environments. In addition to reorganizing teams into DevSecOps teams, companies will have to incorporate security testing earlier into their deployment pipelines as CI remains crucial for software development. Benefits of Shift Left Security Shift left testing is a powerful way to identify and fix defects before they become costly, meaning your team can make faster progress in the development cycle. Other benefits include: Improve code quality and security posture Easily manage risks with cloud technologies Create a security-conscious culture Continual assessment Driving Technologies for Shift Left Security To make sure organizations maintain a high level of security, OWASP suggests DevSecOps use a variety of tools. Here are five commonly used tools: SAST (static analysis) DAST (dynamic analysis) Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST) Software Composition Analysis (SCA) Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) How to Implement Shift Left Security: 5 First Steps Shift left security can be implemented in a number of ways, but these are the most crucial steps. 1. Establish and Define Shift Left Security Strategy It's critical that you identify what shift left means for your team to help them understand how to achieve success. To do this, you'll need to: Define Common Goals The goal of DevSecOps is to promote collaboration and alignment among all stakeholders involved in the development process. To do this, teams need to come together to clearly establish their goals and objectives for their shift left security strategy. This should include: Who has ownership or responsibilities over what processes? What metrics will be used to gauge success? What parts of your applications and APIs operate with sensitive data? How many resources are you willing to allocate to the testing process? What will your milestones look like? Change the Culture Enable a security-centric development environment where security is considered at every stage of the development lifecycle—whether it's selecting a package during project planning, developing code, or conducting tests. You'll most likely have to do some shift left myth-busting to facilitate a smooth transition. The most common misconception is that shift left means moving the testing to an earlier stage and then neglecting to test later. Establish a Set of Security Requirements for APIs Because APIs are windows into your system, the safety of an application depends on the security policies you establish for them. Including security requirements for APIs in your shift left security strategy, will boost your security posture. There are a few factors to consider when establishing a set of security requirements for APIs, such as: The type of data being accessed by the API The environment in which the API will be used The user base that will be using the API For example, if the API is accessing sensitive data in a public environment by many users, then a higher level of security will be required. When determining the security requirements for an API, it is essential to consult with experts in the field. They will be able to help identify what security measures need to be put in place to protect the data that is being accessed by the API. They will also help determine what level of security is needed. 2. Understand Where Software is Created Understanding your software development pipeline is an important first step in securing it. This will be more challenging depending on the complexity of your business units. Before you can start shifting security left, identify who's responsible for developing code and how that person or team moves from creating new features through deployment to production. This helps you identify what technology will be used throughout this process, so there are no gaps. Make sure you identify: The individuals responsible for developing code The workflow process The technology used in this process 3. Implement Security Controls at the API Level Through APIs, applications and software interact with your business, allowing outsiders direct access to sensitive information. Without proper security measures in place, cybercriminals will exploit these vulnerabilities. To address OWASP's Top 10 API security risks, it's recommended that you implement security controls at the API level, which help protect your data and systems. Some of the most widely used security measures are: Authentication and Authorization: Ensure only authorized users access the API using OAuth 2.0 or OpenID protocols. Encryption: Protect the data that passes through your API from interception and tampering, for example, using SSL/TSL encryption. Principle of least privilege: With this principle, subjects are granted only the minimum access necessary to complete a stated function—this includes access to your APIs. Use rate limits: To prevent denial-of-service attacks, set a threshold above which subsequent requests will be rejected. 4. Automate Security Processes Penetration testing and vulnerability scanners are the most common ways to test the security of your APIs. However, they each have unique problems when using a shift left security approach. Vulnerability scanners are deployed to test your APIs against a list of known vulnerabilities, but they do not consider your API's architecture. This means they miss business logic flaws that leave you vulnerable. On the other hand, pen testers use black box or white box testing methods to simulate attacks on your API, which are extremely time-consuming and expensive when applied to the shift left testing framework. But there’s a third way. You can use APIsec. APIsec is an automated security testing solution that uses AI to analyze the architecture of your APIs to generate and execute hundreds of custom-tailored attack scenarios. 5. Implement Security Fixes as the Code is Developed It is important to implement security fixes as you develop the code so that your application and APIs have no vulnerabilities. It’s a good idea to retest once you fix your code as loopholes often open up after remediation. This ensures no weak spots are left where an attacker could exploit simple errors. Give your DevSecOps team the tools they need to implement shift left security. Contact our team to schedule a free demo.
May 31, 2022
15 mins read
Dan Barahona
Business Logic

How to Address Business Logic Flaws During Application Design

Business logic vulnerabilities often go undetected for years. Nothing makes cybercriminals happier than an application with vulnerabilities they can exploit without any special tools—simply working within the normal functionality of the app. Since most vulnerabilities are exposed in the development phase, catching them during the design phase will require new strategies beyond what has been the industry norm. “Without proper testing, you’re leaving those APIs exposed and just ripe for the picking.” - Corey Ball, Cybersecurity Consulting Manager & Author of "Hacking APIs" We’ve identified common business logic flaws and provided our top tips for eliminating them during application design. 1. Ensure Proper Authorization and Authentication Measures From Day 1 Attackers often gain access to sensitive data through vulnerabilities in authentication and authorization resources that they should not have access to. Here are the most common business logic flaws associated with this cluster of API threats and how you address them from the start: Unprotected APIs: Implement stringent authorization and authentication for all internal and staging APIs so they can’t be compromised to pivot to other systems. Weak credential policy: Restrict the use of insecure or previously exposed passwords to guard yourself against automated brute force attacks. Flawed credential recovery process: Ensure that permit recovery or credential reset can’t be triggered with insufficient information. Broken authentication: Make it impossible to view, modify, or remove the data of another account without the corresponding user privileges. Read More: API Security Checklist: What You Need To Know 2. Eliminate Data Input And Client-Side Loopholes Malicious attackers can alter a database query without using any exploits to make the application execute unauthorized commands. To combat this, we recommend evaluating the most common business logic flaws related to data input and client-side vulnerabilities. Critical parameter manipulation: Inspect HTTP request parameters (the values sent in the request body) to make it impossible to tamper them to query the database. Cookie tampering: Encrypt session and cookie data to prevent the attacker from reverse engineering business logic and modifying cookie parameters to launch a privilege escalation attack. LDAP injection attacks: Check LDAP parameters for any business logic flags to prevent bad actors from changing them to bypass the business layer. Client-side vulnerabilities: Examine your business routines embedded in JavaScript, Flash, or other client-side languages. Read More: Drilling Down Into Excessive Data Exposure: How to Protect Your APIs Sensitive Data 3. Eliminate Logic Flaws From Processes and Workflows When application workflows or processes have design flaws built into the business logic, users short-circuit them in unintended ways to bypass security checks and gain unauthorized access to data and functionalities. That’s why it's essential to meticulously test every action and task the user can perform to uncover potential loopholes. These business logic vulnerabilities would be a great starting point: Business constraint exploitation: Ensure that no hidden user fields contain values that control the constraints or restrictions defined by the business logic layer. Business flow bypass: Break down your application workflows to verify steps can’t be hijacked, skipped, or bypassed to perform a certain task. Denial of Services (DoS) with business logic: Check for the possibility of short-circuiting processes with infinite loops to overload or crash the system. Auto-increment IDs: Graduate from using automatically-incrementing identifiers when generating database records to make it impossible for the attacker to automatically harvest all of your records should you find your defense lines compromised. Read More: What Is API Privacy and How to Protect Your Sensitive Data 4. Ensure Critical Data Is Secured APIs and web applications often leak credentials and sensitive data without an organization ever knowing it happened. By following these best practices, you help to ensure that your API is secure: Identity extraction: Examine the parameters that control user profiles and make it impossible for the attacker to reverse engineer or guess tokens to harvest user data. Getting entire database objects: Ensure that the server returns only the values requested by the user, not entire database objects. Never leave data filtering to the client. Unauthorized file URL access: Dissect the mechanisms that generate temporary links to restricted files to ensure they can’t be reverse-engineered or hijacked with a custom API call. Read More: How Improper Assets Management Leaves Your APIs Vulnerable to Attacks The Only Automated API Security Testing Tool that Detects Business Logic Flaws Armed with this list, you will drastically reduce the likelihood and severity of data breaches caused by this vulnerability cluster. APIsec is the only fully automated API security testing solution that identifies business logic vulnerabilities at scale. By automating the process of identifying these flaws, APIsec helps organizations protect their applications and data from being compromised. If you want to learn more about how APIsec can help you identify and fix business logic flaws, contact us for a free demo.
April 10, 2022
5 min read