Rest security cheat sheet – owasp electricity facts history

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REST (or REpresentational State Transfer) is an architectural style first described in Roy Fielding’s Ph.D. dissertation on Architectural Styles and the Design of Network-based Software Architectures. It evolved as Fielding wrote the HTTP/1.1 and URI specs and has been proven to be well-suited for developing distributed hypermedia applications. While REST is more widely applicable, it is most commonly used within the context of communicating with services via HTTP.

The key abstraction of information in REST is a resource. A REST API resource is identified by a URI, usually a HTTP URL. REST components use connectors to perform actions on a resource by using a representation to capture the current or intended state of the resource and transferring that representation. The primary connector types are client and server, secondary connectors include cache, resolver and tunnel. In order to implement flows with REST APIs, resources are typically created, read, updated and deleted. For example, an ecommerce site may offer methods to create an empty shopping cart, to add items to the cart and to check out the cart.

Another key feature of REST applications is the use of HATEOS or Hypermedia as the Engine of Application State. This provides REST applications a self-documenting nature making it easier for developers to interact with a REST service without a priori knowledge.

Secure REST services must only provide HTTPS endpoints. This protects authentication credentials in transit, for example passwords, API keys or JSON Web Tokens. It also allows clients to authenticate the service and guarantees integrity of the transmitted data.

Non-public REST services must perform access control at each API endpoint. Web services in monolithic applications implement this by means of user authentication, authorisation logic and session management. This has several drawbacks for modern architectures which compose multiple micro services following the RESTful style.

There seems to be a convergence towards using JSON Web Tokens (JWT) as the format for security tokens. JWTs are JSON data structures containing a set of claims that can be used for access control decisions. A cryptographic signature or message authentication code (MAC) can be used to protect the integrity of the JWT.

If MACs are used for integrity protection, every service that is able to validate JWTs can also create new JWTs using the same key. This means that all services using the same key have to mutually trust each other. Another consequence of this is that a compromise of any service also compromises all other services sharing the same key. See https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc7515#section-10.5 for additional information.

• A relying party must verify the integrity of the JWT based on its own configuration or hard-coded logic. It must not rely on the information of the JWT header to select the verification algorithm. See https://www.chosenplaintext.ca/2015/03/31/jwt-algorithm-confusion.html and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW5pS4e_MX8

Public REST services without access control run the risk of being farmed leading to excessive bills for bandwidth or compute cycles. API keys can be used to mitigate this risk. They are also often used by organisation to monetize APIs; instead of blocking high-frequency calls, clients are given access in accordance to a purchased access plan.

To make sure the content of a given resources is interpreted correctly by the browser, the server should always send the Content-Type header with the correct Content-Type, and preferably the Content-Type header should include a charset. The server should also send an X-Content-Type-Options: nosniff to make sure the browser does not try to detect a different Content-Type than what is actually sent (can lead to XSS).

Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) is a W3C standard to flexibly specify what cross-domain requests are permitted. By delivering appropriate CORS Headers your REST API signals to the browser which domains, AKA origins, are allowed to make JavaScript calls to the REST service.

In Spring Boot (Java), for example, CORS support is disabled by default and is only enabled once the endpoints.cors.allowed-origins property has been set. The configuration below permits GET and POST calls from the example.com domain: endpoints.cors.allowed-origins=https://example.com endpoints.cors.allowed-methods=GET,POST Sensitive information in HTTP requests