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OWASP top 10 API Security vulnerabilities – Improper Asset Management
April 12, 2023
OWASP API Security Improper Asset Management


Improper Asset Management refers to the risk of APIs not properly managing or securing their assets, which can lead to vulnerabilities or weaknesses in their security. This can occur when APIs do not properly track or secure their assets, such as secrets, keys, or credentials, or when they do not properly manage their dependencies or third-party libraries.


Some common risks associated with Improper Asset Management include:

  • Unauthorized access to sensitive data or functionality
  • Compromise of user accounts
  • Reputational damage for the organization due to data breaches or service disruptions
Attack Scenarios

Attack scenarios for cloud applications may include:

  • An attacker gains access to sensitive assets, such as secrets or keys, through unsecured storage or poor access controls
  • An attacker exploits a vulnerability in a third-party library or dependency used by the API
  • An attacker discovers and exploits a misconfigured or poorly secured asset, such as an API endpoint
Vulnerable Sample Code

A vulnerable sample of code in Go lang might look like this:

const apiKey = "abc123"

func getData(w http.ResponseWriter, r *http.Request) {
  // Get the API key from the request
  requestKey := r.Header.Get("X-API-Key")

  // Check the API key
  if requestKey != apiKey {
    http.Error(w, "Invalid API key", http.StatusUnauthorized)

  // Retrieve the data from the database
  data, err := database.GetData()
  if err != nil {
    http.Error(w, "Error retrieving data", http.StatusInternalServerError)

  // Return the data to the user

In this example, the API uses a hardcoded API key for authentication. However, this key is not properly secured and is easily accessible to anyone with access to the source code. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by simply copying the key and using it to make unauthorized API requests.

Sample Attack

A sample attack payload using the curl command might look like this:

curl -H "X-API-Key: abc123" http://api.example.com/getdata

In this example, the attacker is using curl to send a request to the API with the hardcoded API key. If the API is vulnerable to Improper Asset Management, the attacker may be able to access the data without proper credentials.

MITRE ATT&CK framework reference

Improper Asset Management can be mapped to the Tactic: Initial Access and the Techniques: Obtain Credentials, Exploit Public-Facing Application in the MITRE ATT&CK framework. These techniques involve exploiting vulnerabilities or weaknesses in systems or applications to gain unauthorized access.

  1. Use secure methods for storing and managing secrets, keys, and credentials, such as using a password manager or a secure storage service.
  2. Implement proper access controls and permissions for assets, including rotating keys and credentials regularly and limiting access to sensitive assets to only authorized personnel.
  3. Regularly review and update dependencies and third-party libraries to ensure they are secure and up to date.
  4. Use security testing tools and techniques, such as static code analysis or penetration testing, to identify and fix vulnerabilities in assets.
  5. Have proper logging and monitoring in place to detect and respond to potential asset management issues.
  6. Educate and train employees on the importance of proper asset management and how to implement it effectively.

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