Top 6 API security testing tools in 2024: a full review

Top 6 API security testing tools in 2024: a full review
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The Top 6 API Security Testing Tools include:

1. Escape
2. Noname security
3. Salt Security
4. Stackhawk
5. Rapid7
6. 42Crunch

How safe are your applications? In recent years, the significance of API (Application Programming Interface) usage and hence of API security has skyrocketed. According to Vanson Bourne's recent survey, 98% of enterprise leaders believe that APIs are an essential part of their organization’s digital transformation, and 97 percent agree that successfully executing an API strategy is essential to secure organizations’ future revenue and growth. 

The financial impact of the API security breaches can be immense: in November 2023, crypto firm Kronos Research said $26 million worth of cryptocurrency was stolen from its systems following a cyber attack. The company said that it experienced “unauthorized access” to some of its API keys, forcing it to pause trading and begin an investigation.

More than that, a recent update of the OWASP Top 10 vulnerabilities for 2023 shows that threats are constantly evolving, and technologies behind the API security tools that you use for vulnerability management in your applications must progress with these changes.

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Building your application security program from scratch? Watch or read our guide on building an effective product security program.

In this article, we've prepared for you the selection of the best API security tools to help you protect your applications. We'll not only provide the description of each API security tool but also outline the pros and cons to help you make the best judgment. Let's dive right in!

Why is API Security important?

API security is crucial because it protects the integrity of your data and services. APIs, being the connecting threads between different software applications, are vulnerable to attacks. Ensuring their security means protecting your application's core functions and the sensitive data they handle.

According to Derek Fisher in the Elephant in AppSec podcast, "mindset we all in the security space need to have: assume that everybody within your network or within your system is adversarial".

You have to model all possible threats to your APIs and integrate the action plan into your Application Security program to strengthen your organizational API security posture.

Want to know more about how to proceed? Deep dive into our detailed API security checklist.

Features of the best API security tools

When it comes to keeping your APIs safe, you need a good API security solution. Let's examine the main features that make the best API security tools special.

API Discovery & Inventory

Don’t know what your developers expose online? Here is when API Discovery and Inventory come into play. Every undocumented API feels like a ticking time bomb, a potential gateway for malicious breaches.

To ensure that the organization's data and services remain protected and bridge the gap between innovation and security, your top priority is to create a comprehensive inventory of all used APIs.

Need more information about API discovery? Check out here why API discovery is important and what is the difference between automated and manual approaches.

Automated API Discovery tools are indispensable to ensure efficiency, accuracy, and comprehensive coverage. Manual discovery should be seen as a complementary approach rather than a primary method in modern API management.

CI/CD Pipeline Integration

If you want to catch and fix security issues early in your development process, you must integrate security within your CI/CD pipeline. It helps you ensure your applications are built securely from the ground up and helps your organization to shift left testing of APIs.

Custom security tests

Each organization's API stack and their structure are not the same. You, as a security engineer, sometimes need to be able to write or extend your automated security tests to find vulnerabilities specific to your APIs. This can be particularly useful for running static security assessments on your web applications, identifying regression bugs, or investigating specialized in-house security concerns.

Support in remediation

Tired of struggling to get developers on board with security in the SDLC? Making life easier for your developers is important to ensure swift security fixes. Detailed remediation code snippets help to break down complex security issues into simple, actionable steps, so your developers can quickly fix any problems that pop up.

Ease of deployment

No one wants a complicated setup process. The faster you can start scanning, the faster you can protect your organization. Agentless solutions are your best bet: An agentless deployment method involves gathering data without the need to alter application code and without inserting any agents into the application's communication path.

No fuss, just quick and efficient protection.

Testing undocumented APIs

Hidden vulnerabilities can be a big risk. Testing undocumented APIs is important to find those hidden weaknesses and keep your data safe from potential threats.

Contextual risk-based prioritization

Prioritizing security tasks is vital. Contextual Risk-Based Prioritization is a strategy used in risk management and security to determine the priority of addressing vulnerabilities or threats based on their potential impact and context within a specific environment.

It helps you focus on what's most important first for your business, making sure you're putting your efforts where they matter the most.

Top API security tools

Escape

Escape

Escape leverages generative AI to discover and secure even hidden or non-documented APIs. It's a dynamic application security testing (DAST) tool - a type of black-box testing that checks for security problems while the software is actually running.

Escape helps security teams automate testing for OWASP Top 10 and complex business logic flaws at scale. With actionable remediation code snippets for every finding and native CI/CD integration, it empowers developers to adopt security by design.

Want to see Escape's API discovery capabilities in action? Check out the video below:

Pros

  • Exceptional ability to uncover hard-to-find APIs in minutes, reducing the risk of overlooked vulnerabilities.
  • In-depth GraphQL testing capabilities and lowest false-positive rate
  • User-friendly interface and easy-to-set-up automated testing and integration with CI/CD pipelines. Ideal for both beginners and advanced users.
  • Effortless custom checks integration to automate security tests tailored to business-specific APIs.
  • Ability to prioritize the most critical API by business use, data sensitivity, and exposure.
  • Open-source extensions like GraphQL Armor

Cons

  • Advanced feature sets may require specialized knowledge

Noname security

Noname security landing page

The Noname API Security Platform proactively secures environments from API security vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, design flaws, and provides API attack protection with automated detection and response.

Noname Active Testing sometimes gets confused with a DAST, but that is not its functionality. Noname Active Testing compares an API with its Swagger file to assess its conformance. 

Pros

  • Provides complete visibility into API traffic and security posture: it finds APIs, domains, and related issues from both inside and outside the network perimeter.
  • Detects and mitigates sophisticated API attacks and vulnerabilities.
  • Offers comprehensive customer support along with detailed remediation guidelines to help resolve issues effectively.
  • Focuses strongly to help to ensure regulatory compliance.

Cons

  • Setup time: The customization process can be time-consuming, requiring more upfront investment in setup.
  • Steeper learning curve: May pose a challenge for those new to API security, requiring more time to master.
  • Not accessible for small and medium-sized businesses: pricing starts at $150,000 entry level package for 1 year

Salt security

Salt Security landing page

Salt Security was founded in 2016 by alumni of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and serial entrepreneur executives in the cybersecurity field and is based in Silicon Valley and Israel. 

It is an API security platform that offers a comprehensive solution for all APIs, providing robust API discovery and attack prevention capabilities. It provides a deep contextual analysis of API traffic to detect and prioritize potential threats based on their real-world impact.

Pros

  • Supports a wide range of API protocols: REST, GraphQL, SOAP, and gRPC.
  • Continuous API discovery and inventory.
  • Advanced threat detection capabilities in are great for large-scale operations facing a wide array of potential security threats.

Cons

  • High cost for small businesses: $50,000/Start up plan Console Access and Support + up to 5M API calls/month for 12 months and $350,000 for Enterprise plans.
  • Not adapted to medium-size and small businesses: The depth and complexity of its features might be more than what is necessary, potentially leading to underutilization of its capabilities.
  • No ability to detect sensitive data flows. Maintaining an API catalog that classifies sensitive data, like PII, PCI, PHI, PCI-DSS, etc is essential in quickly identifying and mitigating data breaches.
  • Limited integration options.

Stackhawk

Stackhawk landing page

Stackhawk is a DAST tool that scans APIs for potential vulnerabilities. Stackhawk is built on top of OWASP ZAP and works by simulating an attack, which is based on common open-source vulnerabilities like OWASP top 10 or custom attack definitions, and observing how the API responds. In other words, it tries to leverage known vulnerabilities on the API to observe how it reacts to them to determine if the API is secure against the vulnerability or not.

Stackhawk provides integration with your CI/CD so that you can automate the testing of every API endpoint in your application.

Stackhawk balances ease of deployment with advanced risk-based prioritization. Offers an intuitive dashboard for monitoring and responding to threats.

Pros

  • Easy setup for smaller teams or organizations with good pricing options to get started.
  • The risk assessment tool is user-friendly for security engineers with developer backgrounds.
  • Supports a large number of integrations.
  • Tests various API types.

Cons

  • You are required to install HawkScan in your local environment via Homebrew. Local installations tie API security to individual devices. If someone leaves the team or changes their device, it may disrupt the scanning process and compromise security continuity. More than that, requiring multiple team members to install the tool individually can lead to inconsistencies in the security posture and become a barrier to collaboration, as the process is not streamlined.
  • Lacks an on-prem solution required by some industries and organizations.
  • Lack of API discovery & inventory, which could be a limitation for larger organizations with complex API ecosystems.
  • StackHawk scan results payload is organized as a list of every unique finding across the scan. It provides information about vulnerability, risk, confidence, paths and may include OWASP Cheatsheet, but does not offer detailed remediation code snippets for developers.
  • StackHawk's prioritization is based on the OWASP Risk Rating Methodology. The OWASP Risk Rating Methodology primarily focuses on the technical aspects of security issues, such as their impact and exploitability. It may not take into account the specific context of your application, its users, or your business objectives. 
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Rapid7

Rapid7 InsightAppSec landing page

InsightAppSec is part of Rapid7's security suite, providing Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) for mature and maturing Application Security professionals.  It offers a robust API discovery and a strong emphasis on remediation support. More than that, InsightAppSec incorporates extensive security coverage and detailed guidance for fixing vulnerabilities.

Pros

  • Comprehensive coverage ensures a high level of security.
  • Rich reporting and integrations.
  • Excellent remediation guidance helps teams respond effectively to identified vulnerabilities.

Cons

  • Lack of quality support for GraphQL APIs.
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Want to find out why the security teams choose Escape over competitors for their GraphQL APIs? Check our Lightspeed's case study.
  • Tool's interface is not user-friendly.
  • Additional resources and possibly more advanced knowledge in API security might be required.

42Crunch

42Crunch landing page

42Crunch offers a platform featuring automated tools designed to enhance the security of APIs throughout the software development lifecycle. Leveraging an API security model based on testing OpenAPI/Swagger files, 42Crunch can streamline security evaluations across your CI/CD pipelines.

This process involves security testing to provide security scores and remediation advice for addressing vulnerabilities directly to developers within their integrated development environment (IDE), as well as a real-time security enforcement mechanism through an API firewall.

Pros

  • Efficient for managing standard security needs for REST APIs.
  • Automates integrations with your CI/CD workflow.
  • Provides detailed analytics and dashboarding of test reports.

Cons

  • 42Crunch requires defining all the elements of your API in an OpenAPI contract before scanning. OpenAPI specifications present an initial challenge, as they require constant attention for updates and maintenance. 
  • Unfortunately, 42Crunch is limited to supporting only documented REST APIs.
  • While 42Crunch supports discovery in GitHub, it cannot identify any external APIs.
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Conclusion: API security tools adapted to your needs

Selecting the right API security tool depends on your specific needs and existing infrastructure. Whether you prioritize comprehensive coverage, ease of deployment, or contextual threat analysis, there's a tool tailored to your requirements. In 2024, staying ahead in cybersecurity means choosing an API security tool that not only protects but also automates your API management and allows you to customize your needs.


đź’ˇ Want to learn more about API security? Check out the following articles:

Prefer hands-on learning? Check out our API Security Academy and learn how to secure your GraphQL applications.