High-Stakes API Automation Testing: DOs and DON’Ts

Timothy Joseph
Timothy Joseph | September 17, 2019

High-Stakes API Automation Testing: DOs and DON’Ts

API vulnerabilities are potentially devastating. The programming interfaces at the heart of our internet-connected world shuttle data blindly, dependent entirely on the coding and testing standards that went into their development. The safety and security of your users’ data—and, therefore, your own reputation and brand quality—rest solely on the resources you put into testing the application.

It is a high-stakes issue, one that has compromised and embarrassed some of the biggest companies in the world. Consider:

  • In September 2018, Twitter had to apologize to users when an API bug made their private information visible to app developers.
  • In December of the same year, Alphabet shut down Google+ after an API bug exposed the data of more than 50 million users.
  • Closing out the horror of 2018 for the tech giants, later that same month, Facebook admitted that an API bug compromised the security of more than 6 million account holders.

These failures erode public confidence. When you are a member of tech’s Big 5, you can afford to risk shedding a few thousand customers over such scandals. When you have more modest realities, such losses can be devastating. The lingering hit to your reputation alone is cause for major concern.

The moral is clear: API automation testing is a high-stakes proposition that must be handled by experts. Your future depends on it. 

Approach API Automation Testing the Right Way

Automation is synonymous with speed. Even when you reach the GUI stage of development, you can get through 3,000 API tests in 50 minutes or 3,000 GUI tests in 30 hours. Manual testing has an important part to play in comprehensive testing, but there is no substitute for the time savings made possible by automation.

Leveraging those time savings without compromising the quality of your API testing is the challenge. The right approach begins with integrating testing into the SDLC. API integration lets you run comprehensive tests with every input of new code and developer feedback. It makes the continual process of innovation and counterbalancing that define the prevailing Agile approach to development possible. This method produces better products quicker by partnering developers with QA testers of equal knowledge and skill. The two operate in tandem through repeated iterations to ensure the product does not break as it evolves into a more satisfying customer solution.

As each piece of the product is prepared, API automation testing puts it through thousands of virtual user network and application interactions. It produces real-world simulation without placing time- and resource-consuming expectations on your core personnel.

With API automation testing, you dramatically reduce your chances of becoming mentioned alongside Facebook, Google and Twitter for the wrong reasons. In summary, it provides:

  1. Real-world simulation
  2. Quicker, less expensive bug fixes 
  3. Comprehensive test coverage

Achieving these outcomes is contingent on integrating API automation testing within your evolving SDLC. The alternative is a risky, disjointed approach that puts your product performance and security in the hands of garbage-in, garbage-out machinery.

The Wrong Way to Prepare for API Automation Testing

The Agile approach demands balance between development and testing. Each has to make a valuable contribution, or the product runs the risk of ending up in the API error hall of horrors.

You cannot leave your QA to the final stretch of your release cycle. Throwing a “finished product” over the proverbial fence to a disengaged test team or a distant third-party dulls the impact of API automation testing.

Instead, incorporate QA testing into your plans from the initial scoping study. Automation speeds up testing, but time and resource costs still need to be accurately scheduled, and expert attention must be paid to the test framework and test case development. Successful automation depends on expert preparation; there is no automation silver bullet that will do the hard work for you.

Do not cut corners on your API automation testing. With so much at stake, it is well worth it to engage an outsourced QA expert to share the responsibility of securing your end users’ privacy.

Do Not Become an API Horror Story

If API vulnerabilities can disrupt and damage some of the largest tech companies in the world, imagine what they could do to your business. Avoiding such public failures depends on comprehensive, expert API testing.

Even if you have an in-house team of testers, it is well worth seeking the shared responsibility and domain knowledge of an outsourced API automation testing expert. Internal staff can become blinded by their proximity to a product, with their decisions and analysis influenced by how an application is supposed to work and not by raw testing of how it actually performs.

With a proven outsourced QA partner, you get a dedicated resource that will work within your project parameters to deliver a shared responsibility for the product’s proper functioning. You get an unbiased assessment of your API needs and performance, and you get advice on how to maximize the speed of test automation while also improving test coverage.

QA outsourcing is like adding a safety net to your SDLC. And with the ever-present chance of API failure, it is an extra precaution worth taking.

QASource engineers have done the automation hard work for you. When you partner with them, you empower your own team with the experience and knowledge that comes with having automated more than 1 million test cases across $11 billion worth of successful customer exits. Our team takes their responsibility for your product security seriously—after all, our reputation depends on yours. You can get a free quote, or call us at +1.925.271.5555.


This publication is for informational purposes only, and nothing contained in it should be considered legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out of this information and encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.