This challenge is Inon Shkedy’s 31 days API Security Tips

-API TIP: 1/31-

Older APIs versions tend to be more vulnerable and they lack security mechanisms. Leverage the predictable nature of REST APIs to find old versions. Saw a call to api/v3/login? Check if api/v1/login exists as well. It might be more vulnerable.

-API TIP: 2/31-

Never assume there’s only one way to authenticate to an API! Modern apps have many API endpoints for AuthN: /api/mobile/login | /api/v3/login | /api/magic_link; etc.. Find and test all of them for AuthN problems.

-API TIP:3/31-

Remember how SQL Injections used to be extremely common 5-10 years ago, and you could break into almost every company? BOLA (IDOR) is the new epidemic of API security. As a pentester, if you understand how to exploit it, your glory is guaranteed.

Learn more about BOLA

-API TIP: 4/31-

Testing a Ruby on Rails App & noticed an HTTP parameter containing a URL? Developers sometimes use “Kernel#open” function to access URLs == Game Over. Just send a pipe as the first character and then a shell command (Command Injection by design)

Learn more about the open function

-API TIP:5/31-

Found SSRF? use it for:

  • Internal port scanning
  • Leverage cloud services(like
  • Use to reveal IP Address & HTTP Library
  • Download a very large file (Layer 7 DoS)
  • Reflective SSRF? disclose local mgmt consoles

-API TIP: 6/31-

Mass Assignment is a real thing. Modern frameworks encourage developers to use MA without understanding the security implications. During exploitation, don’t guess object’s properties names, simply find a GET endpoint that returns all of them.

– API TIP: 7/31 –

A company exposes an API for developers? This is not the same API which is used by mobile / web application. Always test them separately. Don’t assume they implement the same security mechanisms.

– API TIP: 8/31 –

Pentest for REST API? Give it a chance and check if the API supports SOAP also. Change the content-type to “application/xml”, add a simple XML in the request body, and see how the API handles it.

Sometimes the authentication is done in a different component that is shared between REST & SOAP APIs == SOAP API may support JWT

If the API returns stack trace with a DUMPling, it’s probably vulnerable**

– API TIP: 9/31 –

Pentest for APIs? Trying to find BOLA (IDOR) vulnerabilities? IDs in the HTTP bodies/headers tend to be more vulnerable than IDs in URLs. Try to focus on them first.

-API TIP: 10/31-

Exploiting BFLA (Broken Function Level Authorization)? Leverage the predictable nature of REST to find admin API endpoints! E.g: you saw the following API call GET /api/v1/users/<id> Give it a chance and change to DELETE / POST to create/delete users.

– API TIP: 11/31 –

The API uses Authorization header? Forget about CSRF! If the authentication mechanism doesn’t support cookies, the API is protected against CSRF by design.

-API TIP : 12/31-

Testing for BOLA (IDOR)? Even if the ID is GUID or non-numeric, try to send a numeric value. For example: /?user_id=111 instead of Sometimes the AuthZ mechanism supports both and it’s easier the brute force numbers.

-API TIP: 13/31-

*Use Mass Assignment to bypass security mechanisms. E.g., “enter password” mechanism:

  • POST /api/reset_pass requires old password.
  • PUT /api/update_user is vulnerable to MA == can be used to update pass without sending the old one (For CSRF)*

– API TIP: 14/31 –

Got stuck during an API pentest? Expand your attack surface! Find sub/sibling domains using Some of these domains might expose the same APIs with different configurations/versions.

-API TIP:15/31-

Static resource==photo,video,.. Web Servers(IIS, Apache) treat static resources differently when it comes to authorization. Even if developers implemented decent authorization, there’s a good chance you can access static resources of other users.

-API TIP: 16/31-

Even if you use another web proxy, always use Burp in the background. The guys at @PortSwigger are doing a really good job at helping you manage your pentest. Use the “tree view” (free version) feature to see all API endpoints you’ve accessed.

-API TIP:17/31-

Mobile Certificate Pinning? Before you start reverse engineering & patching the client app, check for both iOS & Android clients and older versions of them. There’s a decent chance that the pinning isn’t enabled in one of them. Save time.

-API TIP: 18/31-

Companies & developers tend to put more resources (including security) into the main APIs. Always look for the most niche features that nobody uses to find interesting vulnerabilities. POST /api/profile/upload_christmas_voice_greeting

-API TIP:19/31-

Which features do you find tend to be more vulnerable? I’ll start:

  • Organization’s user management
  • Export to CSV/HTML/PDF
  • Custom views of dashboards
  • Sub user creation&management
  • Object sharing (photos, posts,etc)

– API TIP:20/31-

Testing AuthN APIs? If you test in production, there’s a good chance that AuthN endpoints have anti brute-force protection. Anyhow, DevOps engineers tend to disable rate limiting in non-production environments. Don’t forget to test them 🙂

A good example of this issue: Facebook Breach (Found by @sehacure) 

-API TIP:21/30-

Got stuck during an API pentest? Expand the attack surface! Use , find old versions of the web-app and explore new API endpoints. Can’t use the client? scan the .js files for URLs. Some of them are API endpoints.

-API TIP:22/31-

APIs tend to leak PII by design. BE engineers return raw JSON objects and rely on FE engineers to filter out sensitive data. Found a sensitive resource (e.g, receipt)? Find all the EPs that return it: /download_receipt,/export_receipt, etc..

Some of the endpoints might leak excessive data that should not be accessible by the user.

This is an example for OWASP Top 10 For APIs – #3 – Excessive Data Exposure

-API TIP:23/31-

Found a way to download arbitrary files from a web server? Shift the test from black-box to white-box. Download the source code of the app (DLL files: use IL-spy; Compiled Java – use Luyten) Read the code and find new issues!

-API TIP:24/31-

Got stuck during an API pentest? Expand your attack surface! Remember: developers often disable security mechanisms in non-production environments (qa/staging/etc); Leverage this fact to bypass AuthZ, AuthN, rate limiting & input validation.

-API TIP:25/31-

Found an “export to PDF” feature? There’s a good chance the developers use an external library to convert HTML –> PDF behind the scenes. Try to inject HTML elements and cause “Export Injection”.

Learn more about Export Injection

-API TIP:26/31-

Looking for BOLA (IDOR) in APIs? got 401/403 errors? AuthZ bypass tricks:

  • Wrap ID with an array {“id”:111} –> {“id”:[111]}
  • JSON wrap {“id”:111} –> {“id”:{“id”:111}}
  • Send ID twice URL?id=<LEGIT>&id=<VICTIM>
  • Send wildcard {"user_id":"*"}

In some cases, the AuthZ mechanism expects a plain string (an ID in this case), and if it receives a JSON instead it won’t perform the AuthZ checks. Then, when the input goes to the data fetching component, it might be okay with a JSON instead of string(e.g: it flattens the JSON)

-API TIP:27/31-

BE Servers no longer responsible for protecting against XSS. APIs don’t return HTML, but JSON instead. If API returns XSS payload? – E.g: {"name":"In<script>alert(21)</script>on} That’s fine! The protection always needs to be on the client side

-API TIP:28/31-

Pentest for .NET apps? Found a param containing file path/name? Developers sometimes use “Path.Combine(path_1,path_2)” to create full path. Path.Combine has weird behavior: if param#2 is absolute path, then param#1 is ignored.

Leverage it to control the path

Learn more

-API TIP:29/30-

APIs expose the underlying implementation of the app. Pentesters should leverage this fact to better understand users, roles, resources & correlations between them and find cool vulnerabilities & exploits. Always be curious about the API responses.

-API TIP:30/31-

Got stuck during an API pentest? Expand your attack surface! If the API has mobile clients, download old versions of the APK file to explore old/legacy functionality and discover new API endpoints.

Remember: companies don’t always implement security mechanisms from day one && DevOps engineers don’t often deprecate old APIs. Leverage these facts to find shadow API endpoints that don’t implement security mechanism (authorization, input filtering & rate limiting)

Download old APK versions of android app

-API TIP: 31/31-

Found a limit / page param? (e.g: /api/news?limit=100) It might be vulnerable to Layer 7 DoS. Try to send a long value (e.g: limit=999999999) and see what happens 🙂