API attacks are on the rise. One of their major targets is eCommerce firms like yours.

APIs are a vital part of how eCommerce businesses are accelerating their growth in the digital world.

ECommerce platforms use APIs at all customer touchpoints, from displaying products to handling shipping. Owing to their increased use, APIs are attractive targets for hackers, as the following numbers expose:

  • API attack traffic increased by 681% in 2021
  • 77% of retail respondents experienced API security incidents in 2021– according to Noname security

If left unaddressed, API abuse can damage your reputation, harm consumers, and affect the bottom line. Hence API security is worthy of consideration for eCommerce stakeholders.

Why do eCommerce companies need APIs?

API makes it easy for retailers and eCommerce platforms to handle product listings and orders. It transformed the static website into a completely customizable headless store. Retailers use APIs for various functions, including login, product catalog, shipping, and subscription.

It empowers businesses to enhance customer experience. While making purchases, one service handles orders; another calculates tax; another enables shipping, and so on.

But customers have no idea what is happening behind the screen. API connects these decoupled elements and helps to share data seamlessly.

Key benefits of APIs in eCommerce

  • It streamlines operations and ensures seamless customer engagements
  • It is effective for data monitoring and analytics, a vibrant factor for retailers
  • It enables communication with chatbots
  • Connects eCommerce platform with 3rd party marketplaces

Why Is API Security Crucial for Ecommerce?

APIs are easy to use and integrate for businesses. Even though most APIs are not intended for public use, they often have full access to all sensitive assets and information.

Customers enter PII while purchasing on online sites like emails, passwords, credit card details, and phone numbers. They also share transaction details like bonuses, balances, and rewards. This increases the opportunity for attackers to steal the data.

They are easy to expose if not designed and tuned for robust, ongoing security. Inadequate security testing and a lack of business logic have resulted in an overall rise in API security risks.

Important factors that drive API security concerns are

Authentication Flaw

Many APIs not properly checking if the request comes from a legitimate user. Hackers find coding errors in authentication and escalate privileges. They further use enumerated technologies to compromise users’ accounts.

For instance, some eCommerce platforms integrate with external logistics systems to pass on shipping details. In this situation, if there is an insufficient authentication chain, API can leak PII via replay attacks.

Automated Attacks

Automated attacks on insecure APIs are increasing with the widespread adoption of APIs. Rather than exploiting vulnerabilities in APIs code, hackers exploit business logic flaws within APIs.

They may feed malicious scripts into bots to access your product details at scale.

With bad bots overwhelming your site, your genuine user cannot shop on your site. For example, they can snatch the complete inventory of high-demand products within seconds.

Volumetric attacks against eCommerce API without rate limiting (#4 in OWASP API Security Top 10) can cause shopping apps non-responsive, resulting in user dissatisfaction.

Shadow and Zombie APIs

Still, many businesses struggle to separate real transactions from fake. They are also blindsided by unprotected shadow APIs.

Equally, Zombie APIs are the most common method of attack. Zombie APIs may longer be unmonitored. They can contain malicious codes or may expose sensitive data or functionality.

Third-party APIs

E-commerce businesses integrate with 3rd parties like shipping and payment systems. Third-party APIs are challenging to manage. These are the ones that attackers typically target.

For example, shopping cart API is a prime target as it offers entry points into the business. A leading UK retailer experienced attacks more than 1000 times a day on this API. The attack increased 10-fold times when special offers were running.

Traditional Security Tools

Most businesses lack adequate defense capabilities to protect against the ever-evolving API risks. API threats are highly sophisticated and persistent, and traditional methods are ineffective against them.

Legacy WAF or API gateways need more real-time ability to understand bad from good API activity.

Hackers can manipulate the discount and promotion APIs during peak times. These tools find it hard to protect against such attacks.

You will need comprehensive API protection solutions like AppTrana to protect your website and customers’ sensitive information.

API Security Best Practices for Ecommerce

The API threats to eCommerce security are potentially devastating to retailers and customers. For this reason, you must take appropriate measures to address them.

API Discovery

The first step is to understand what you have in your API landscape. An inventory of all APIs, including undocumented APIs, is essential if you want to secure what you don’t know about.

API discovery involves finding and inventorying APIs. 67% of the retail respondents say they lack visibility on API inventory. A good API security solution offers strong API discovery features. It automatically inventories all APIs, including Zombie and shadow APIs.

Make sure zombie APIs are turned off. After the last customer stops integrating with a deprecated API, ensure the API is turned off. If you’re going to publish API documentation externally, make sure it’s valid and tested, and it’s not exposing vulnerabilities.

API Security Testing and Penetration Testing

Integrate API security at the early stage of the development process. Security enhancement and vulnerability management are key aspects of your API development. Use API security scanners (e.g., Infinite API Scanner) for smooth API vulnerability scans. Make sure to patch the identified vulnerabilities immediately.

In addition to automated API scanning tools, manual pen testing is vital. It helps you to detect misconfiguration that could otherwise go unseen.

Proper Authentication and Authorization

Validating purchasers who they are and only allowing access to specific resources they have permission for is essential in API security.

OAuth 2.0, API keys, and Token based authentication are a few API authentication methods to verify users’ identity.

API Rate Limiting

According to data, there were 28 API endpoints in 2020 and 89 in 2021, a three-fold increase in API endpoints. A similar increase in API calls is logical. There was a 141% increase in API calls in H1 2021. There has been a corresponding increase in attack surfaces.

Attackers can make eCommerce sites unavailable for legitimate purchasers with DDoS attacks. With API rate limiting, you can limit the number of requests from overwhelming system resources. It can throttle the request that exceeds the limits. It enables you to make your site available for purchasers without impacting performance.

API Behaviour and Analytics

Leverage API protection solution to look for abnormal behaviour in API traffic. Differentiating malicious traffic from normal API traffic can help to detect attacks in progress.

It also highlights system misbehaviors and other malicious disruptions to your service. It analyzes traffic metadata to pinpoint the attack source. You can use this information to stop the incident and fix the issue in API.

Tips to protect your eCommerce Site

  • Make sure all third-party integrations and plugins are regularly inspected
  • Help your customers to create strong, unique passwords
  • Ensure that only necessary customer data is stored
  • Always keep your site up-to-date
  • Secure your website with HTTPS
  • Keep a backup of your data

Ecommerce Security: Plan Ahead to Stay Safe

An increase in API usage has increased the attack surface, which leaves eCommerce businesses vulnerable. It calls for the immediate requirement to mitigate the API security risks mentioned above.

Failing to secure an eCommerce platform can directly impact sales. It ruins your reputation. Take immediate measures to win your API security platform.

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