Emphasizing API Protection in the Web Application Firewall

5 min read

APIs are the backbone of many enterprise apps, providing access to data, functionality and services. However, they are also a prime target for attackers looking to steal sensitive data or disrupt service operations.

The new focus in the web application firewall is on API protection.

Data Filtering

Data filtering, a security protocol, allows IT professionals to create a safe environment for their systems by creating requirements that must be met before users can access critical information. For example, you might require users to submit documents proving their identity and address before they can sign up for a user account.

It can reduce the risk of data leakage affecting reputation and business. It also helps organizations meet security standards, such as PCI DSS compliance.

Unlike a traditional firewall that blocks all traffic, a WAF focuses on specific threats that can impact a business. It works with continuously managed policies that are updated in response to changing attack patterns.

A custom WAF rules list can process requests in an order that maximizes efficiency while minimizing the impact on performance. Rules with a higher priority are processed first, and lower priorities are ignored.

The most important thing to know about data filtering is that it can improve your company’s security by limiting access to unnecessary or inappropriate information.


As the security world moves beyond traditional network firewalls to protect web applications, a new focus is on authentication. It enables administrators to secure the identity of clients who want to access web apps or APIs.

Authentication requires users to provide information proving they are who they are. It typically involves a username and password but also biometric factors or other strong identifying tokens.

Authorization establishes what activities a user can perform and what files they can see. This process can happen automatically after the user successfully authenticates, but it can also require the attention of an IT administrator.

It can make it more difficult for malicious actors to impersonate employees and steal their data.

Authentication and authorization are only the first steps in a robust security strategy. Still, they are critical to protecting sensitive data and limiting the damage that hackers could do. They are also crucial to a secure Web application and must be supported by an intelligent firewall.

Access Control

Access control, a crucial part of security in any business, protects company data from internal threats and cyberattacks. It also allows companies to comply with privacy and data protection laws by monitoring access and removing unapproved users, avoiding fines or revocation of licenses.

Access can be controlled through physical, logical or hybrid security measures. It can limit physical entrances, such as doors, or logical entries to computers, files and networks.

Typically, the first level of security is access control lists (ACLs), which allow detailed permissions for objects and resources on a system. For example, a spreadsheet file may have permissions that range from complete control to read-only.

Another level is mandatory access control (MAC), which assigns security labels to resource objects and accounts with classification and category properties. This system provides a high level of control but requires a lot of planning and management due to constant updates.

The next level of security is identity-based access control, which determines a user’s permission to access a specific resource or file based on their visual or biometric identity. It can be done through a password, PIN or even fingerprints.

Object-Level Authorization

Object-level authorization is another common security vulnerability often overlooked by traditional security controls like WAFs and API gateways. This vulnerability allows an attacker to manipulate the userId value in a query parameter and access sensitive data.

This issue occurs when a backend application queries the database using the userId in a query parameter and verifies the authorization with the userId value in a cookie. Under normal circumstances, these two values should match; however, an attacker could modify the values in the query parameter or cookie to access unauthorized data.

It is important to note that this attack is not limited to a specific backend application but can happen in any system. The key to preventing this problem is a well-defined and robust authorization mechanism based on user policies, roles, and hierarchies.

This type of security is a must for modern API applications. A proper implementation will ensure that all functions that access data sources using input from a client perform authorization checks at the object level.

Security Misconfiguration

Security misconfigurations are a type of vulnerability that is often overlooked in the web application firewall. It is a significant concern as these misconfigurations give threat actors an attack vector for many injection attacks, including cross-site scripting (XSS), code or command injection, and buffer overflow exploits.

They can occur at any level of an application stack, including network services, platforms, web servers, databases, frameworks, custom code, pre-installed virtual machines, containers or storage. These flaws can result in unauthorized access, functionality, and sometimes complete compromise.

It can cause a wide range of problems for the organization and is one of the most dangerous vulnerabilities in an environment.

It is essential to implement secure coding practices in your application development. These include securing input/output data validation, implementing a custom error page or SSL, ensuring a session timeout, and avoiding enabling unnecessary authentication. It’s also essential to run your application through a scanner before it goes live.

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