The OWASP API Security Project has just released an updated version of the OWASP Top 10 for APIs.
The first edition was published four years ago (2019). Since then, a lot has changed. Updating the list required us to keep up with new trends and talk to security experts from different industries to make the information more accessible to everyone.
1:2023 – Broken Object Level Authorization
APIs tend to expose endpoints that handle object identifiers, creating a wide attack surface of Object Level access control issues. Object level authorization checks should be considered in every function that accesses a data source using an ID from the user.
2:2023 – Broken Authentication
Authentication mechanisms are often implemented incorrectly, allowing attackers to compromise authentication tokens or to exploit implementation flaws to assume other user’s identities temporarily or permanently. Compromising a system’s ability to identify the client/user compromises API security overall.
3:2023 – Broken Object Property Level Authorization
This category combines API3:2019 Excessive Data Exposure and API6:2019 – Mass Assignment, focusing on the root cause: the lack of or improper authorization validation at the object property level. This leads to information exposure or manipulation by unauthorized parties.
4:2023 – Unrestricted Resource Consumption
Satisfying API requests requires resources such as network bandwidth, CPU, memory, and storage. Other resources such as emails/SMS/phone calls or biometrics validation are made available by service providers via API integrations and paid for per request. Successful attacks can lead to denial of service or an increase in operational costs.
5:2023 – Broken Function Level Authorization
Complex access control policies with different hierarchies, groups, and roles, and an unclear separation between administrative and regular functions tend to lead to authorization flaws. By exploiting these issues, attackers can gain access to other users’ resources and/or administrative functions.
6:2023 – Unrestricted Access to Sensitive Business Flows
APIs vulnerable to this risk expose a business flow such as buying a ticket or posting a comment without compensating for how the functionality could harm the business if used excessively in an automated manner. This doesn’t necessarily come from implementation bugs.
7:2023 – Server Side Request Forgery
SSRF flaws can occur when an API is fetching a remote resource without validating the user-supplied URI. This enables an attacker to coerce the application to send a crafted request to an unexpected destination, even when protected by a firewall or a VPN.
8:2023 – Security Misconfiguration
APIs and the systems supporting them typically contain complex configurations, meant to make the APIs more customizable. Software and DevOps engineers can miss these configurations, or don’t follow security best practices when it comes to configuration, opening the door for different types of attacks.
9:2023 – Improper Inventory Management
APIs tend to expose more endpoints than traditional web applications, making proper and updated documentation highly important. A proper inventory of hosts and deployed API versions is also important to mitigate issues such as deprecated API versions and exposed debug endpoints.
10:2023 – Unsafe Consumption of APIs
Developers tend to trust data received from third-party APIs more than user input, and so tend to adopt weaker security standards. In order to compromise APIs, attackers go after integrated third-party services instead of trying to compromise the target API directly.