Effective solutions to detect and prevent API bots

Mon Sep 19 2022
Effective solutions to detect and prevent API bots

API aka Application Programming Interface - Is a de facto building block for modern applications. It is necessary for both building and connecting applications and websites. But APIs with poor security have become targets for attacks, especially bot attacks. This is a type of attack that aims to collect data, defraud or disrupt the service of a website, an application or an API

According to PerimeterX (a US cybersecurity company) - 75% of logins from API (Application Programming Interface) endpoints are malicious. Hackers systematically use bots to perform malicious login attempts.

So how to protect enterprise APIs from bots and bot attacks? Let's learn about effective solutions to detect and prevent API bots.

Why are APIs at risk of bot attacks?

APIs allow developers to access, reuse, and integrate functional data and assets easily. It brings agility, speed and efficiency in the development process. This has resulted in increased reliance on APIs as organizations are now increasingly implementing these APIs to support their digital transformation initiatives.

However, APIs are often vulnerable to bot attacks such as: DoS and DDoS attacks, content theft exploits, pricing and account hijacking, and more.

According to a report by security firm Radware and Osterman Research, in 2020, 98% of organizations have suffered an application attack and 82% reported bot attacks. The most common types of bot attacks are denial of service (DoS) with 86% of companies being victims, 84% of web scrapes, and 75% of account takeovers .

Why are bot attacks on APIs so high?

40% of hacked businesses report that more than half of their applications are exposed to third-party services or the Internet due to APIs.

Bot-based API attacks are easier to perform because botnets are easy to find on the net. Traditional detection and prevention techniques like: rate limiting, signature based detection, blocking protocols, etc., are difficult to resist very complex API bot attacks.

Hackers take advantage of the difficulty of organizations when they have to identify what is human activity and what is bad bot, good bot to carry out attacks. As a result, it is difficult for businesses to protect their APIs against sophisticated bot attacks.

One of the things that makes APIs such a lucrative target for attackers is the developers' regulations. This requirement mandates that APIs do not go through the traditional path of the browser or the native application agent; they act as a direct conduit with access to resources and functionality.

Usually, developers use standard/common set of rules for APIs without regard to business logic. This exposes APIs to business logic vulnerabilities that are often exploited using bots to attack.

How to protect API from bot attacks

1. Collect information and build behavioral pathways

To effectively protect your API from bots, you need to establish what is acceptable behavior, what is normal behavior, and what is abnormal behavior. To achieve this, an enterprise security solution must monitor API traffic and gather intelligence through analysis of fingerprints, behavior, patterns and experiences, workflow authentication, source global threat feeds, network response times, and more. These insights should be combined with internal and external feeds to build a baseline for what counts as human/bot behavior and, in bot behavior, good behavior. and what is bad.

This process must be continuous as digital transformation is evolving rapidly. Attackers are constantly leveraging sophisticated technology to build bots that can mimic human behavior. You need to continually recalibrate acceptable and malicious behavior for the safety of your APIs.

2. Continuously monitor API requests

Detailed monitoring of all API requests against the base model. The bot detection process in the API needs to be smart (using AI), agile to ensure agility, speed, and accuracy in detecting bot activity in real time. Continuous monitoring and regular logging.

3. Implement bad bot mitigation techniques

To protect APIs against bad bots, organizations must continually develop real-time detection features. Businesses need to prevent bad bots from accessing APIs and the content that APIs normally expose. Smart API bot management tools help determine: allow, block, flag or warn API requests based on real-time signals and insights. Combined with a professional error management system, it helps to minimize errors in analysis results.

4. Deploy secure architectures

Adopt a secure architecture that forces visitors to prove their identity in order to be granted access to data according to assigned roles. Role-based API security control, access control with strong password policy, and multi-factor authentication.

5. Customize API security rule set

Adjust the security rule set of the APIs based on the context to prevent bots from exploiting business logic and other vulnerabilities in the API. In addition, it is necessary to contact the help of security experts to adjust security policies correctly.


To protect APIs from bot attacks effectively, try Web/ App security solution of VNIS (VNETWORK Internet Security), a Layer 3/4/7 protection solution with Cloud WAF (Web Application Firewall), AI (Artificial Intelligence) and RUM (Real User Monitoring). This solution is used to combat intelligent bot attacks and protect APIs effectively. VNIS helps fight bad bots and ensures the security of enterprise APIs through intelligent real-time security policies, and especially effective anti-DDoS up to 2,600Tbps. Register for a trial now at VNIS.VN.

Please leave your contact information, and our experts will contact you soon.

[First Name] is required field
[Email Address] is required field
[Phone Number] is required field
[Content] is required field
News All