APIs have revolutionized the way web applications are used, as they aid communication pipelines between multiple services.
Application programming interfaces (APIs) are important because data-driven businesses rely heavily on their software application architecture. The use of web applications has been revolutionized by APIs, which facilitate communication between various services. Using APIs, developers can incorporate any contemporary technology into their architecture, which is very helpful for including features that a customer needs.
By their very nature, APIs are prone to exposing sensitive information like personally identifiable information (PII) and application logic, making them an attractive target for hackers. In general, APIs are well-documented and frequently accessible over public networks (accessible from anywhere), making them easy targets for malicious actors to quickly reverse-engineer. They are also vulnerable to incidents involving denial of service (DDoS).
The most significant data leaks occur as a result of faulty, weak, or compromised APIs, which can expose private, financial, and medical information to the public.
Additionally, if an API is not properly secured, numerous attacks may happen, making API security essential for today’s data-driven businesses.
Reasons why API security is crucial
Over the past few years, API development has skyrocketed due to the digital transformation and its essential role in the creation of mobile apps and the Internet of Things. Due to this expansion and the wide range of potential attacks, API security is crucial.
As serverless architectures and micro-services have gained popularity, attacks can now bypass the client-side application in order to compromise private information or interfere with how an application works for other users. Broken, exposed, or compromised APIs can also result in attacks on the backend system.
APIs now necessitate a focused approach to security and compliance due to the crucial role they play in digital transformation and the access to sensitive data and systems they provide.
API security vs. application security
The primary goal of API security is to protect this application layer and to deal with potential repercussions of a malicious hacker interacting directly with the API. API security also entails putting strategies and practices in place to lessen security threats and vulnerabilities.
By making it accessible to servers, apps, and users with the right permissions, a protected API can ensure the message’s confidentiality when sensitive data is transferred through an API. By confirming that the data was not changed after delivery, it also guarantees content integrity.
Any company planning a digital transformation must use APIs to decentralize applications and deliver integrated services at the same time. Application security is similar to securing the main door, which needs robust controls to thwart intruders. API security is all about protecting windows and the backyard at the same time.
A weakness in these areas will have an impact on the application. In essence, API security is a part of full application security; without it, the application cannot be secured as a whole. When security is taken into account from the first step and the first line of code written, rather than added as an extra layer later in the game, APIs could be made more secure.
Guidelines to improve API security
How one’s data architecture implements authentication and authorization policies has a direct impact on how secure an API is. Cloud services and other technological advancements have made it possible for API providers to secure their APIs in novel ways thanks to API gateways and integration platforms. How you secure your APIs depends on the technology stack you use to build them.
To successfully protect your system from API intruders, IT security can employ a variety of strategies:
API Gateway: Because it makes the development, upkeep, monitoring, and security of APIs simple, an API gateway serves as the cornerstone of an API security framework. The API gateway can provide API monitoring, logging, and rate limitation in addition to protecting against a variety of threats. Additionally, it can automatically validate security tokens and restrict traffic based on IP addresses and other information.
Web application firewalls (WAFs): A WAF serves as a middleman between the API gateway or application and outside traffic. By detecting malicious bots, having the ability to recognize attack signatures, and providing additional IP intelligence, WAFs can provide supplementary defense against threat actors like bots. WAFs can be useful for preventing malicious traffic from entering your gateway in the first place.
Security applications: The security architecture can also incorporate standalone security products that support features like real-time protection, static code and vulnerability scanning, built-time checking, and security fuzzing.
Security in code: Internal protection built into APIs or applications through the use of security code. However, it can be challenging to apply uniformly across all of the organization’s API portfolios the resources necessary to ensure that all security measures are implemented correctly in the API code.
Zero trust is applicable to APIs for both clients and servers. The sheer volume of micro services that can be present in an API-driven application makes it challenging for security leaders to monitor their evolution and security implications. By implementing zero-trust principles, it is possible to prevent the use of open ports, enable authentication and authorization across all APIs, and ensure that each micro service communicates with the least amount of privilege.