Back in December 2021, an API attack on Twitter took place, leaving 5.4 million users with leaked data the following July. The data was put on sale via the black market and it was once again put up for sale recently, showing just how disruptive these phishing attacks can be. Today we’re going to discover what an API attack is and why you need to be aware of this advanced type of social engineering that could put your data at risk in the future.
What is an API?
API stands for application programming interface, which is what allows a program to communicate with another one in a standardized manner. APIs can be used to send money through a single shared application or to control a smart appliance in your home via an app. APIs work in this way:
- A command is sent to an application with your mobile device.
- The application will then connect to the Internet and share the command and the data associated with it.
- A server will then receive the data and interpret it to carry out the requested actions.
- The device receives the data and shows it to the user.
APIs are generally standardized, which means they should usually remain secure as they only send the needed information. However, a phishing attack like this terrible Twitter hack could result in vulnerabilities in the system.
The Twitter API Hack
When one of Twitter’s APIs was exploited, it allowed the hackers who carried out the attack to identify who owned individual Twitter accounts. It used the API to submit phone numbers and email addresses, and the issue didn’t get fully resolved until January 2022. Millions of users were the victims of this attack, leaving their personal information out in the open and lowering trust in this popular social media site.
How Serious Are API Attacks?
While you might not think you need to worry about API attacks if you run a smaller website or system, they are something that everyone should be taking seriously. Twitter is not the only company to become a victim of data theft, as so many businesses use API functionality. APIs are built in a way that can build trust with the systems they connect to, allowing hackers full access to your company’s data if they perform an API attack. This can then be used for further social engineering attacks, causing havoc and disruption for your business and clients.
How Can You Prevent an API Attack?
The first step to preventing an API attack is to educate your team about them as much as you can. You should minimize access to sensitive accounts, protecting your passwords and account access with password management tools and two-factor authentication where possible. Try to teach your team about phishing attacks and the complex methods that scammers now use, so they can recognize the signs of these in the future.
Let Us Help You
Our team is here to help support you and reduce the chance of API attacks in the future. Contact us today to discover your options or to discuss any questions you have on this topic.