OWASP 2023

OWASP TOP 10 API Security Risks: 2024!

Pallavi Vishwakarma
April 2, 2024

As organizations increasingly adopt modern application architectures and embrace the power of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), it becomes crucial to address the security challenges associated with API usage. The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) releases a regularly updated list of the top API security risks, providing valuable insights into the evolving threat landscape. In the 2023 edition of the OWASP Top 10 API Security Risks, organizations gain a comprehensive understanding of the key vulnerabilities and risks they need to mitigate to ensure the security of their digital assets.

In this blog, we will explore the OWASP Top 10 API Security Risks for 2023, analyzing each risk and understanding the potential impact it can have on organizations. By familiarizing ourselves with these risks, we can proactively implement robust security measures and strategies to protect our APIs, sensitive data, and the overall integrity of our systems.

Let's dive into the OWASP Top 10 API Security Risks for 2023 and explore how organizations can strengthen their API security defenses in the face of evolving cyber threats.

OWASP TOP 10 API Security Risks for 2023

1. Broken Object Level Authorization

This vulnerability occurs when APIs fail to enforce proper authorization controls at the object level, allowing attackers to access or manipulate unauthorized resources.

Potential Impact of this Vulnerability on Organizations:

  • Unauthorized Data Access: Attackers can exploit BOLA to access sensitive data or resources that they should not have access to. This can result in data breaches, intellectual property theft, or exposure of confidential information, leading to reputational damage and legal liabilities.
  • Privilege Escalation: BOLA can enable attackers to escalate their privileges within the system. By gaining unauthorized access to higher-level resources or administrative functions, attackers can further exploit the system, potentially compromising its security and control.
  • Regulatory Compliance Violations: Organizations that handle sensitive data, such as personally identifiable information (PII) or financial records, are subject to various regulatory compliance requirements. Failure to address BOLA can result in violations of data protection regulations, leading to penalties, fines, and legal consequences.


To mitigate the risks associated with Broken Object Level Authorization, organizations should implement the following measures:

  • Role-Based Access Control (RBAC): Implement a robust RBAC system that defines granular permissions and access levels for different roles within the application. Ensure that each object or resource is properly protected based on the user's role and authorization level.
  • Contextual Authorization: Implement contextual authorization mechanisms that consider not only the user's role but also the specific context in which the request is made. This can include factors such as the user's location, device, or time of access, providing an additional layer of security.

2. Broken Authentication

This vulnerability refers to weaknesses in the authentication and session management mechanisms of APIs, allowing attackers to compromise user credentials, impersonate legitimate users, gain unauthorized access to sensitive information or perform malicious actions.

Potential Impact of this Vulnerability on Organizations:

  • Identity Theft and Fraud: If user credentials are compromised, attackers can impersonate legitimate users and perform malicious activities. This can result in identity theft, financial fraud, or misuse of user accounts for malicious purposes.
  • Compromised Data Confidentiality: Broken Authentication can expose sensitive data, such as personally identifiable information (PII), passwords, or financial details. Attackers can intercept or manipulate this data, compromising its confidentiality and potentially leading to reputational damage and legal liabilities.


  • Session Management: Implement secure session management practices, such as session timeouts, secure cookie handling, and protection against session fixation attacks. Ensure that session tokens are securely generated, transmitted, and validated to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Secure Token Storage: Store user authentication tokens securely, using strong encryption and hashing techniques. Avoid storing passwords or sensitive information in plaintext or weakly hashed formats.

3. Broken Object Property Level Authorization

Broken Object Property Level Authorization (BOPA) is a security vulnerability where APIs or applications do not enforce proper authorization controls at the object property level. It means that while the overall object-level authorization may be intact, specific properties or attributes within the object are not adequately protected. This allows unauthorized users or attackers to access or manipulate sensitive data within those properties.

Potential Impact of this Vulnerability on Organizations:

  • Data Manipulation and Integrity Issues: BOPA can allow attackers to modify or manipulate specific properties within an object, compromising the integrity and accuracy of the data. For example, an attacker may change the price of a product or alter critical attributes, leading to incorrect calculations, incorrect behavior of the application, or incorrect decision-making based on the manipulated data.
  • Privacy Breaches: If BOPA vulnerabilities exist in applications that handle user data, it can result in privacy breaches. Attackers can exploit these vulnerabilities to access or manipulate sensitive user information, violating privacy regulations and eroding user trust.


  • Fine-Grained Access Controls: Implement fine-grained access controls that enforce authorization at the object property level. This ensures that each property within an object has appropriate access restrictions based on user roles, privileges, or business logic.
  • Attribute-Level Encryption: For sensitive attributes within an object, consider encrypting the data at rest and in transit. Encryption adds an extra layer of protection, even if unauthorized access to the properties occurs.

4. Unrestricted Resource Consumption

Unrestricted Resource Consumption, also known as Resource Exhaustion, is a security vulnerability that occurs when an API or application does not have proper controls in place to limit the amount of resources (such as CPU, memory, disk space, network bandwidth) that can be consumed by a single user or request. This vulnerability allows an attacker to deplete or exhaust the available resources, leading to degraded system performance, denial of service, or complete system failure.

Potential Impact of this Vulnerability on Organizations:

  • System Performance Degradation: Attackers can exploit this vulnerability by making requests that consume excessive resources. As a result, the system becomes overwhelmed, leading to significant performance degradation. Sluggish response times, increased latency, and system unavailability can negatively impact user experience and productivity.
  • Denial of Service (DoS): Resource exhaustion attacks can lead to denial of service, where the system becomes unresponsive or unavailable to legitimate users. By consuming all available resources, attackers can effectively disrupt the normal functioning of the application or service.


  • Rate Limiting: Implement rate-limiting mechanisms to restrict the number of requests a user or client can make within a specified time frame. This helps prevent excessive resource consumption by limiting the rate at which requests are processed.
  • Auto-Scaling and Load Balancing: Utilize auto-scaling and load balancing techniques to dynamically allocate additional resources based on demand. This ensures that resources are scaled up or down based on traffic patterns, preventing resource exhaustion during peak loads.

5. Broken Function Level Authorization

Broken Function Level Authorization is a security vulnerability that occurs when an API or application fails to enforce proper authorization controls at the function or operation level. It means that certain functions or operations within the application can be accessed or executed by unauthorized users, leading to unauthorized actions or data exposure.

Potential Impact of this Vulnerability on Organizations:

  • Data Exposure: If unauthorized users gain access to functions or operations that handle sensitive data, it can lead to data exposure. This includes unauthorized viewing, modification, or deletion of data, violating data privacy and confidentiality.
  • Unauthorized Actions: Broken Function Level Authorization can enable attackers to perform unauthorized actions within the application. For example, an attacker may gain access to administrative functions, allowing them to create, delete, or modify user accounts, inject malicious code, or execute privileged operations.


  • Role-Based Access Control (RBAC): Implement RBAC mechanisms to enforce proper authorization at the function or operation level. Define roles and permissions based on the principle of least privilege, ensuring that users can only access the functions relevant to their role.
  • Input Validation and Sanitization: Perform input validation and sanitization to prevent unauthorized access to functions through parameter manipulation or injection attacks. Validate and sanitize user inputs to ensure they align with expected formats and prevent malicious code execution.

6. Unrestricted Access to Sensitive Business Flows

Unrestricted Access to Sensitive Business Flows is a critical security vulnerability that occurs when an attacker or unauthorized user gains unrestricted access to sensitive business processes or flows within an application or system. It means that individuals can bypass necessary controls and perform actions that are intended only for authorized personnel, potentially leading to unauthorized data access, manipulation, or disruption of critical business operations.

Potential Impact of this Vulnerability on Organizations:

  • Manipulation of Business Processes: With unrestricted access to sensitive business flows, attackers can manipulate critical processes within an organization. They may modify or delete important data, alter system configurations, or execute unauthorized transactions. This can disrupt operations, compromise data integrity, and lead to financial losses or reputational damage.
  • Business Disruption: Unauthorized access to sensitive business flows can result in disruption or interruption of critical business operations. Attackers may exploit vulnerabilities to execute malicious actions that impact production systems, cause downtime, or prevent legitimate users from accessing necessary resources. Business disruption can lead to financial losses, customer dissatisfaction, and a negative impact on overall productivity.


  • Access Control Lists (ACLs): Use ACLs to define and enforce granular access controls on sensitive business flows. Restrict access to authorized individuals or groups and ensure that proper authentication and authorization mechanisms are in place.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Implement MFA to add an extra layer of security for accessing sensitive business flows. Require users to provide multiple factors, such as a password and a unique verification code sent to their mobile device, to ensure stronger authentication.

7. Server Side Request Forgery (SSRF) 

Server Side Request Forgery (SSRF) is a security vulnerability that occurs when an attacker can manipulate server-side requests made by an application to unauthorized or malicious destinations. It allows the attacker to trick the server into initiating requests to internal or external resources that should not be accessible, potentially leading to data exposure, unauthorized actions, or further exploitation of the system.

Potential Impact of this Vulnerability on Organizations:

  • Unauthorized Access to Internal Resources: SSRF can enable attackers to bypass network boundaries and access internal resources that are not intended to be publicly accessible. This includes databases, file systems, APIs, and internal web applications. Unauthorized access to these resources can lead to further compromise of the system or extraction of sensitive information.
  • Data Manipulation or Destruction: In some cases, SSRF can allow attackers to modify or delete data stored in internal systems. This can have severe consequences, such as the loss of critical business information, destruction of backups, or tampering with financial transactions.


  • Restrict Access to Internal Resources: Employ network segmentation and access controls to limit the accessibility of internal resources. Configure firewalls, network segmentation, and DMZs (Demilitarized Zones) to prevent direct access from untrusted networks or systems.
  • Use Safe Libraries and Frameworks: Utilize secure libraries and frameworks that provide built-in protection against SSRF vulnerabilities. These tools often offer features such as URL parsing, validation, and safe request handling.

8. Security Misconfiguration

Security Misconfiguration is a common security vulnerability that occurs when a system, application, or network is not properly configured to maintain a secure environment. It involves the incorrect implementation or configuration of security settings, leaving gaps and weaknesses that can be exploited by attackers.

Potential Impact of this Vulnerability on Organizations:

  • System Compromise: Misconfigurations can leave systems and applications vulnerable to exploitation. Attackers can exploit these weaknesses to inject malicious code, modify configurations, or take control of the system. This can lead to complete system compromise, disruption of services, and unauthorized access to critical resources.
  • Malware Infections: Misconfigurations can make systems more susceptible to malware infections. Attackers can exploit these vulnerabilities to distribute malware, launch phishing attacks, or gain control over infected systems. Malware infections can result in data loss, system slowdown, and further compromise of the organization's infrastructure.


  • Regular Security Audits and Assessments: Conduct regular security audits and assessments to identify misconfigurations and vulnerabilities. Use automated tools and manual techniques to scan systems, applications, and network configurations for potential weaknesses.
  • Patch and Update Management: Maintain an effective patch and update management process to address security vulnerabilities related to misconfigurations. Regularly apply patches, updates, and security fixes to all systems, applications, and network devices.

9. Improper Inventory Management

Improper Inventory Management refers to the inadequate control and tracking of hardware and software assets within an organization's IT infrastructure. It involves the failure to maintain an accurate and up-to-date inventory of assets, resulting in various security and operational risks.

Potential Impact of this Vulnerability on Organizations:

  • Inefficient Resource Allocation: Improper inventory management can hinder effective resource allocation. Without a clear understanding of hardware and software assets, organizations may struggle to optimize resource usage, leading to over-provisioning or under-utilization of resources. This inefficiency can impact operational costs, performance, and overall productivity.
  • Asset Tracking Challenges: Inability to track assets accurately can pose challenges in asset management. This includes difficulties in locating specific devices or software, tracking ownership and maintenance responsibilities, and managing hardware and software lifecycle. These challenges can lead to delays in support, increased downtime, and inefficient asset utilization.


  • Automated Inventory Management Systems: Deploy automated inventory management systems that can discover and track hardware and software assets across the organization's network. These systems provide real-time visibility, facilitate asset tracking, and streamline inventory management processes.
  • Centralized Configuration Management Database (CMDB): Establish a centralized CMDB that serves as a single source of truth for hardware and software inventory information. Integrate the CMDB with other IT management systems, such as incident management, change management, and vulnerability management, to ensure consistency and accuracy of data.

10. Unsafe Consumption of APIs

Unsafe Consumption of APIs refers to the insecure usage or integration of application programming interfaces (APIs) within an application or system. It involves improper handling, validation, or authentication of API requests and responses, which can lead to various security vulnerabilities and risks.

Potential Impact of this Vulnerability on Organizations:

  • API Abuse and Denial of Service (DoS): Attackers may abuse poorly secured APIs to conduct malicious activities. This can include excessive API requests, API parameter tampering, or API resource exhaustion, leading to a DoS condition where legitimate users are denied access to the API or other system resources.
  • Third-Party Risks: Organizations that rely on third-party APIs are exposed to additional risks if those APIs are not consumed securely. Weaknesses in third-party API implementations can compromise the security of the organization's own systems and data, potentially leading to data breaches or unauthorized access.


  • Secure Authentication and Authorization: Implement strong authentication mechanisms, such as OAuth 2.0 or token-based authentication, to ensure that API requests are made by authorized and authenticated entities. Enforce proper authorization controls to restrict access to sensitive API endpoints and resources.
  • API Gateway and Security Filters: Utilize API gateways or security filters to enforce consistent security controls across API endpoints. These gateways can handle authentication, authorization, input validation, and other security-related tasks, providing an additional layer of protection for API consumption.

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