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Application Abuse

Summary

Application abuse occurs when a web application or API is exploited to perform activities that were not intended by the developer. It is usually waged by bots, and app abuse includes a large variety of hostile bot activities that don’t fall into other categories.

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Summary

Application abuse occurs when a web application or API is exploited to perform activities that were not intended by the developer. It is usually waged by bots, and app abuse includes a large variety of hostile bot activities that don’t fall into other categories.

Application Abuse

Application abuse occurs when a web application or API is exploited to perform activities that were not intended by the developer. It is usually waged by bots, and app abuse includes a large variety of hostile bot activities that don’t fall into other categories.

This attack vector can be difficult to detect, because the attackers are not attempting to breach the system or degrade its performance. They are merely using an application’s functionality, albeit in an unexpected and unintended way.

Application abuse can be quite subtle, or it can disrupt day-to-day business activities. In most cases, it will cause a loss of revenue. 

Some examples of application abuse include:

  1. SMS spam—bots exploit a phone system API to send out massive volumes of SMS spam messages. 
  2. Abusing search functionality—Hackers use a website’s search functionality in an effort to access sections of the site that are supposed to be restricted.
  3. Abusing web logins—Sending login attempts into a web application in sufficient volumes can have the same effect as a DoS (Denial of Service) attack, degrading the site’s availability to its intended users.

API abuse is an increasingly large segment of this threat category. Many bot-based attacks can be waged through APIs. Additionally, many applications offer their own specific opportunities for abuse. DDoS, credential attacks, inventory hoarding/denial, scraping & data theft, spam, and fraud are all common attacks that can be committed via an application or API

Protecting API endpoints is a twofold problem. Usually, before threat actors deploy their specific attacks on an application, they first have to reverse-engineer its API. Thus, a web security solution must prevent this from happening, along with the more obvious challenges of detecting API abuse, enforcing API schemas, and so on. 

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