For modern-day applications, API (Application Programming Interface) is a crucial building block for creating and integrating websites and applications. However, APIs are not well protected and are now a prime target for attacks, especially bot attacks.
APIs bring agility, efficiency, and speed to development by making it easier for developers to access, integrate and reuse data and capabilities. This has caused enterprises to depend increasingly on APIs, which they are now using to support their digital transformation activities. However, bot attacks such as content and account takeovers, pricing scraping carding attacks, DoS and DDoS attacks, etc., often threaten APIs.
Since botnets are easily obtainable for hire, API bot attacks are easy to orchestrate. Traditional detection and prevention methods, such as signature-based detection, rate limiting, blocking protocols, etc., fall short when used to stop sophisticated API bot attacks.
Organizations struggle to distinguish between the actions of good and bad bots, which greatly restricts their ability to defend APIs against bot attacks. API requests serve as a direct pipeline with access to functionalities and resources; they do not follow the traditional path of native app agents or browsers. Due to this, attackers find APIs to be lucrative targets.
Developers often utilize generic or standard rulesets for APIs without considering the business logic. This exposes the APIs to business logic flaws that are often used by bots to cause havoc.
Defending APIs Against Bot Attacks
Here are some strategies companies can adopt to safeguard themselves from API bot attacks:
Gather Intelligence and Create a Foundation of Acceptable Behaviour
Businesses must define acceptable, normal, and abnormal behavior to stop API bot attacks. To accomplish this, the security system must track API traffic and collect intelligence using techniques like behavioral, fingerprinting, global threat feeds, process validation, network response times, etc. These insights must be integrated with the external and internal reputation feeds to establish a baseline of what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in bot activity.
Since the digital environment is continuously changing and attackers are continually using sophisticated technology to ensure bots can imitate human behaviour, this process must be ongoing. Organizations must constantly re-evaluate what constitutes hostile behaviour in terms of API security.
Constantly Track API Requests
Analyze each API request in depth using the baseline model. To ensure speed, agility, and accuracy in real-time bot activity identification, the bot detection mechanism in APIs needs to be intelligent and adaptive. Both regular monitoring and logging are crucial.
Implement Immediate Bad Bot Mitigation Strategies
Security teams must be able to prevent bad bots from accessing APIs and the critical assets that APIs often expose if they are to defend against API bot attacks successfully. Real-time detection is not enough. To combat the most sophisticated and complex bad bots, intelligent API bot management solutions act intelligently and instantly.
Based on real-time signals and insights, intelligent API bot management systems decide whether to approve, flag, block, or challenge API requests. This reduces false positives and negatives when used in conjunction with an effective false management system. In other words, they increase the difficulty for malicious bots and bad bots to access APIs while decreasing the difficulty for good bots.
Zero-Trust Architectures is Crucial to Fight Against API Bot Attacks
Organizations must implement a zero-trust architecture wherein each user must validate their identity and is only granted access that is necessary for them to carry out their duties. API security suffers from unchecked, unlimited privileges and permissions, especially when it comes to protecting against bot attacks such as brute force attacks and credential stuffing. It is crucial to implement strong password policies, role-based, stringent access controls, and multi-factor authentication.