APIs, like web applications, should use security headers to protect against certain types of attacks.
The following headers can be used to enhance the security of an API:
- Content Security Policy (CSP): This is an HTTP response header that restricts the sources from which the browser can load resources. Although it’s typically more useful for web applications, it can also be applied to APIs to prevent certain types of attacks.
- HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS): This header ensures that the API can only be accessed over HTTPS, protecting against man-in-the-middle attacks.
- X-Content-Type-Options: This header prevents the browser from interpreting files as a different MIME type to what is specified in the Content-Type HTTP header, mitigating MIME type confusion attacks.
- X-Frame-Options: This header is used to indicate whether or not a browser should be allowed to render a page in a <frame> or <iframe>. It can prevent clickjacking attacks. It’s not typically used with APIs, but can be important if your API returns HTML content.
- Access-Control-Allow-Origin: This is a critical header for APIs, as it controls which domains can access the API. This is part of the Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) mechanism and can protect against cross-site request forgery attacks.
- Access-Control-Allow-Methods: This header specifies the method or methods allowed when accessing the resource in response to a preflight request. It is also part of the CORS mechanism.
- Access-Control-Allow-Headers: This header is used in response to a preflight request to indicate which HTTP headers can be used when making the actual request. It is also part of the CORS mechanism.
- Access-Control-Max-Age: This header indicates how long the results of a preflight request can be cached. It is part of the CORS mechanism.
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