Are Business Logic Flaws Leaving Your APIs at Risk?

Short answer – yes. Most application programming interface (API) attacks are not your familiar password hacking or injection-based attacks.

A good example is the recent Facebook hack that exposed tens of millions of user data. In this example, the API logic allowed the exploit and the attacker took advantage of it. It was an API abuse.

Attackers don’t need to hack your API. They find inherent business logic issues and exploit vulnerabilities like BOLA.

Are you vulnerable to flaws in your business logic? How can you mitigate your vulnerabilities? API security? Keep reading to find out.?

What are business logic flaws?

Business logic flaws are flaws in API design and implementation. Attackers can manipulate legitimate data, workflows, and functions to achieve their malicious goals. These malicious goals can range from privilege escalation to revocation to account takeover.

business logic flaws Unlike other web security vulnerabilities. What distinguishes them? They are invisible to automated scan tools.

Logic flaws are context-specific and often vary between organizations. These flaws are invisible to security testers unless they explicitly look for them. Attackers abuse legitimate functions/processing flows to reach their malicious end goal.

Why are flaws in your business logic a favorite target for API attackers?

Organizations often overlook flaws in their business logic. They didn’t expect any unusual user interaction with the API/app. Sometimes users don’t know how to abuse legitimate processes. As a result, attackers can easily abuse her API/app.

Additionally, attackers do not need to steal credentials or API keys or buy them from the black market. No need to crack passwords or engage in technical hacking. Just abuse the logic to manipulate the API.

APIs that cannot detect malicious behavior will respond in the way they were designed. In this way, attackers can seamlessly bypass the system and place their bids.

Business logic flaw attack vectors:

  • Inability to handle unconventional input
  • Place too much reliance on client-side controls
  • Incorrect assumptions about user behavior
  • authorization bypass
  • Misuse of HTML elements
  • Flaws specific to the business domain – e.g. abuse of discount features

How to manage API business logic vulnerabilities

Business specific knowledge required

Attackers often know how an API works, its business logic, and the business operations affected. They also tend to have a deeper understanding of how business logic works in complex APIs. Better than developers.

Start with the basics to ensure better API security. Understand the business domains and details that the API provides. Stay up to date on the changing API threat landscape.

Think beyond shift left

There has been a paradigm shift in favor of a shift-left approach to security. This approach requires organizations to build security into the early stages of development.

It’s hard to find flaws in your business logic by analyzing static code in the pre-deployment stage. You can’t find logic flaw vulnerabilities unless the API is working. Security is continuous and requires products, processes and people to align with it.

Security scanner cannot detect flaws in logic

Finding misconfigurations, access control flaws, or known vulnerabilities is not enough. Application security scanning tools have the same problem.

Security scanners are designed to detect weak development practices and security vulnerabilities in your applications. It misses most of the business logic flaws and API related misconfigurations.

Adopt an API Security Big Picture

Treat API security as a separate discipline and add best practices to avoid potential mistakes that often lead to attacks.

Inclusive Adoption Is Important API security solutions such as AppTrana To analyze, protect, and provide appropriate context for our APIs. Key features include API Discovery, API Security Testing, OWASP Top 10 API Security, Positive Security Policy, and API Specific Rules.

Every business is unique and allows for unique business logic. So the tool should be fast enough to build the customer’s rules accordingly. You need to understand the business context and potential risks.

attack simulation

The final piece of the puzzle is detecting real-time attacks against APIs and endpoints. API security tools should complement the experts for three reasons.

  1. Find current vulnerabilities you weren’t aware of
  2. Helps understand what logical flaws exist and how exploitable they are
  3. Eliminate false positives before initiating remediation actions

Create test cases that cover all possible attack scenarios.The more scenarios you test, the more likely you are to find unique logical flaws


A flaw in an API’s business logic can be exploited in just a few minutes of trial and error. Take precautions to guard against business logic vulnerabilities. It helps fill gaps in your API security strategy.

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