Category:API Abuse

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This article includes content generously donated to OWASP by Fortify.JPG.

An API is a contract between a caller and a callee. The most common forms of API abuse are caused by the caller failing to honor its end of this contract. For example, if a program fails to call chdir() after calling chroot(), it violates the contract that specifies how to change the active root directory in a secure fashion. Another good example of library abuse is expecting the callee to return trustworthy DNS information to the caller. In this case, the caller abuses the callee API by making certain assumptions about its behavior (that the return value can be used for authentication purposes). One can also violate the caller-callee contract from the other side. For example, if a coder subclasses SecureRandom and returns a non-random value, the contract is violated.

This category is for tagging common types of application security attacks.

What is an attack?

Attacks are the techniques that attackers use to exploit the vulnerabilities in applications. Attacks are often confused with vulnerabilities, so please try to be sure that the attack you are describing is something that an attacker would do, rather than a weakness in an application.

All attack articles should follow the Attack template.


  • Brute Force: Is an exhaustive attack that works by testing every possible value of a parameter (password, file name, etc.) Brute_force_attack
  • Cache Poisoning: Is an attack that seeks to introduce false or malicious data into a web cache, normally via HTTP Response Splitting. Cache_Poisoning
  • DNS Poisoning: Is an attack that seeks to introduce false DNS address information into the cache of a DNS server, where it will be served to other users enabling a variety of attacks. (e.g., Phishing)

Note: many of the items marked vulnerabilities from CLASP and other places are really attacks. Some of the more obvious are: