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Enhancing Security: The Role of Penetration Testing in the Age of APIs and Microservices

icon Posted by: Hasan Sameer
icon March 17, 2023

In Brief

Introduction to Microservices and APIs

Microservices is a new cloud-native architectural approach for development. It enables you to compose a single application with many loosely coupled and independently deployable smaller services. Businesses use microservices to handle environments that involve multiple interactions at the same time. The important thing to note about microservices is that you can independently develop, test, deploy, monitor, and scale each service.

APIs on the other hand stands for Application Programming Interfaces. These are a comprehensive set of definitions and protocols that build and integrate software applications. An API enables the exchange of information, communication, and data between different software systems. Software systems having API implementation can allow another software system to execute functions/sub-routines contained within itself.


of businesses are using the services of third-party pen testing teams for api penetration testing and other such assessments.


of respondents in a survey said that they have built in-house penetration testing teams.


of companies conduct pen testing annually or bi-annually in their organizations.


of penetration testing attacks are not even noticed by the internal teams as the activity is quite similar to that of the users and or administrators.

The Role of Penetration Testing in Enhancing Security in the Age of APIs and Microservices

Global cyberspace is continuously evolving. Threats are also getting evolved at the same time. We cannot limit technological advancement to being used for development purposes only. Threat actors leverage new technologies to frequently launch more complex and sophisticated attacks on target systems and networks.

All you can do is prepare your infrastructure to withstand these evolving attacks. A strong cybersecurity posture will help you present resistance against malicious activities prevailing online.

Penetration testing is still the best cyber security practice to enhance your security even in the age of APIs and Microservices. It helps you take a holistic approach toward identifying and eliminating the security vulnerabilities within your IT infrastructure. The pen testing process is available in different renditions to address different aspects of your cyberspace. You can choose Network, API, Cloud, Mobile, Web, and application penetration testing depending on your target.

Penetration Testing for Microservices

Pen testing for Microservices is the same as web application pentesting to quite an extent. The testing team executes the test with the same foundational idea. They are looking to test the environment for multiple flaws in the system or application. The user-supplied input is tested in the initial phase of pen testing for microservices. The most likely found vulnerabilities here are Injection flaws. It can be SQL, Command, or Client-Side code. Furthermore, the testing process is carried out for finding logical security vulnerabilities such as authentication, password reset functionality, new user account registration, etc.

Some Tools Involved in Penetration Testing for Microservices

  • Hoverfly: An independent platform that enables automated tests to run distinctly of other microservices. You can use Hoverfly on different platforms such as Windows, Mac, or Linux.
  • Ambassador: An API gateway that allows microservices to register their public API endpoint easily.
  • Telepresence: A tool to manually test your code in a realistic environment or scan your code with a debugger.

Penetration Testing for APIs

It is not vastly different from the penetration testing process we use for microservices. Testing teams follow the same approach for api penetration testing that they do in web application pen testing. The only thing that is different between both these processes is the type of attacks carried out. However, most web application flaws can easily fit here. But standard vulnerabilities for APIs should be checked separately during the process.

Some Tools Involved in Penetration Testing for APIs

  • Zed Proxy: An open-source tool developed by OWASP typically to find security flaws in web applications.
  • Fiddler: Another open-source tool typically used for purposes like Web Debugging, Performance Testing, Web Session Alteration, and security testing.
  • Postman: A comprehensive API development and Security testing tool. It is used by professional API development service providers.

Before You Go!

  • The use of APIs and Microservices is increasing exponentially through industries. Both these platforms offer a lot of features and flexibility in terms of the development and deployment of business-oriented applications.
  • Microservices and API technologies are similar as well as different in a lot of aspects.
  • However, maintaining adequate security for these environments is always a challenge. But you can easily cyber security consultation from an expert on this to help you out of it.


  • api penetration testing
  • application penetration testing
  • microservices

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