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QSC18: API Security, Enabling Innovation Without Enabling Attacks and Data Breaches

Without APIs, it would be near impossible to see enterprises being able to digitally transform themselves. After all, APIs are the connective-tissue between applications and systems and they make the management, automation and consumption of technology possible at scale. APIs are what enable organizations to liberate data from their applications, improve integration, and standardize how claims and information is governed.

However, what about the associated API security risks? That’s the subject Gartner analyst Mark O’Neill tackled in his presentation, API Security: Enabling Innovation Without Enabling Attacks and Data Breaches at Qualys Security Conference 2018. O’Neill sees API vulnerabilities as a serious enterprise risk in the years ahead. In fact, by 2020, he predicts API abuses will be the most frequent attack vector that results in data breaches for enterprise web applications. “We see more and more APIs as a threat vector,” O’Neill said.

Attackers go after APIs, O’Neill said, because they’re a direct way to valuable data and enterprise resources. In addition to stealing data, APIs are also susceptible to other forms of attack, such a denial-of-service attacks, O’Neill said.

So what can organizations do to better secure their APIs and the resources and information they expose?

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Don’t Overlook Qualys Malware Detection

Cyber criminals are constantly looking for opportunities to infect legitimate websites with malware.  They can use infected websites to cryptomine, steal data, hijack systems, deface pages, and do other damage to harm a company’s reputation and impact their users. This can result in lost revenue, and regulatory fines, and potentially drive customers away.

SiteLock researchers recently reported that a website is attacked on average almost 60 times per day, and that 1% of all websites — about 19 million globally — carry malware at any point in time.  Those often include websites from large, well-known companies. For example, Newegg, British Airways and Ticketmaster all recently fell prey to the Magecart credit card skimming malware.

It’s clear that anti-virus software, firewalls, and other prevention tools are not enough to defend against the steady stream of ever-evolving malware.  Even if a company’s website is secure from external attackers, this does not mean the website is safe from infection from third-party content providers or advertising used on the website.

Firewalls aren’t infallible, and neither are AV products.  Perhaps most frustrating of all is that despite years of awareness training, employees still inadvertently click on malicious links and attachments, John Delaroderie, a Qualys Security Solutions Architect, said recently at Microsoft Ignite 2018.

“That’s why you need a superhero sidekick on your team — to find this malware, root it out at the source, and keep your website safe,” he said.

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Introducing a Burp Extension for Integration with Qualys Web Application Scanning

For a complete web application security program, it’s important that all your web applications have some level of security testing.  Automated scans using Qualys Web Application Scanning (WAS) are perfect to meet this need given its cloud-based architecture and ability to scale.  However, performing manual penetration testing of your business-critical applications in addition to automated scanning is highly recommended.  Manual analysis complements automated scanning by identifying security holes such as flaws in business logic or authorization that an automated scanner would be incapable of detecting.

One of the most popular tools for manual testing of web apps is Burp Suite Professional. This month Qualys introduced a Burp extension for Qualys WAS to easily import Burp-discovered issues into Qualys WAS.  With this integration, Burp issues and WAS findings can be viewed centrally, and webappsec teams can perform integrated analysis of data from manual penetration testing and automated web application scans. The combined data set may also be programmatically extracted via the Qualys API for external analysis.

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REST API Testing with Qualys Web Application Scanning

With more web applications exposing RESTful (or REST) APIs for ease of use, flexibility and scalability, it has become more important for web application security teams to test and secure those APIs. But APIs (including REST APIs) introduce some behaviors that make it difficult for web application scanners to test them for vulnerabilities.

New features in Qualys Web Application Scanning (WAS) overcome these difficulties.

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Path Fuzzing Challenges

Web application scanners often struggle to scan applications that incorporate parameters into their URL paths, specifically web apps that use URL-rewrite techniques or web apps with REST APIs that take URL parameters. One key approach is to fuzz the application’s URL parameter inputs in order to identify possible injection points for malicious code. But without knowledge of the URL structure, it’s difficult for scanners to fuzz those parameters efficiently and with full coverage, which is required for an effective scan.

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Qualys WAF 2.0 Protects Against Critical Apache Struts Jakarta Vulnerability ( CVE-2017-5638 )

On March 8, 2017, Qualys published a detailed blog to describe a critical vulnerability in Apache Struts2 Jakarta multipart parser that exposes vulnerable applications to Remote Command Execution attacks. Exploits of this vulnerability can allow attackers to steal critical data or take control of your application servers.

Qualys Web Application Firewall (WAF) 2.0 allows you to create custom security rules to detect and block attacks that try to exploit this vulnerability.

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Smart DOM XSS Detection in Qualys WAS

Recently Qualys extended the cross-site scripting (XSS) detection capabilities of Qualys Web Application Scanning (WAS) by adding a new mechanism for detecting DOM based XSS (DOM XSS) vulnerabilities. The new mechanism works in an automated manner with no special setup or knowledge requirements, enabling security teams to greatly reduce the risk from these typically hard-to-detect vulnerabilities. Because of the technique Qualys WAS uses, it also indicates the location in your code of any XSS bugs found, which is pretty convenient for your development teams.

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Simplifying Web Application Security with Qualys Web Application Firewall 2.0

The completely redesigned Qualys Web Application Firewall (WAF) 2.0 provides greater confidence in application security through increased customization, one-click virtual patching ability, simplified controls and stronger security rules. Available now with these and other improvements, WAF 2.0 helps customers fend off hackers’ increasingly common, aggressive and destructive web app attacks.

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Cross-Site Request Forgery: What Happened to the Sleeping Giant?

A decade ago, cross-site request forgery (CSRF, often pronounced “c-surf”) was consideredCSRF to be a sleeping giant, preparing to wake and inflict havoc on the Worldwide Web.  But the doomsday scenario never materialized and you don’t even seem to hear much about it anymore.  In this blog post, part 1 of 2, I will explore this idea and try to understand why the CSRF giant never awoke.  First we’ll cover the overall threat landscape, trends, and some notable CSRF exploits throughout the years, including one from personal experience.

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How Ignoring Low-Level Security Risks Can Open the Door to Major Attacks

With the rise in attacks against web applications, cyber security teams naturally have prioritized the elimination of high-risk threats, such as SQL injections and cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities. The flip side of this is that many cybersecurity teams choose to ignore or delay the remediation of low-level security vulnerabilities in their web applications. Unfortunately, this isn’t a wise strategy. Underestimating the importance of fixing low-level security issues could create a major problem for an organization. Why? By exploiting a combination of seemingly trivial vulnerabilities, attackers can sometimes open up a big security gap that lets them do extreme damage. In this article, I will demonstrate such a scenario, showing how by taking advantage of several unfixed low-level security issues, an attacker could gain full administrator access to a popular web application.

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