API Security

API security & why it is so important in today’s digital world

APIs play a vital role in software development and digital transformation allowing different software applications to communicate and share data. There are now more than 24,000 public APIs that are used by millions of developers and businesses around the globe. 

APIS can be designed in a variety of ways and this increased connectivity can expose significant security challenges if not protected. 

Unfortunately in today’s modern world attacks that exploit vulnerabilities and unauthorized data access are on the rise, and research suggests API vulnerabilities will be among the most common sources of security breaches in the coming years. 

Here I will share five most common API security threats:

  • Man in the middle attack (MITM)

This is essentially a “middle man” intercepting a communication channel between two targets without them knowing in order to steal data. The attacker can secretly relay and in some cases alter the communication between the two targets who believe they are directly communicating with each other. 

  • API injections (XSS and SQLi)

This is where malicious code is inserted into vulnerable APIs to stage an attack, such as cross site scripting (XSS) and SQL injection (SQLi). Additionally, malicious commands could be inserted into an API message, such as an SQL command that deletes tables from a database. 

  • Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS)

A DDoS attack is where a perpetrator floods a server with internet traffic and attempts to overwhelm its memory and capacity to prevent users from accessing connected online services and sites. 

  • Sensitive data exposure

This attack could possibly take place when sensitive data is inadequately secured and APIS are returning excessive data in response to client requests. This might be a result of weak to no encryption, software flaws or human error. Session tokens, passwords, private health information, and credit card information can become more vulnerable to these attacks.

  • Parameter tampering

This is a web based attack where specific URL parameters are changed without the user’s knowledge. An attacker can modify application data such as user credentials and permissions. This kind of information is stored in cookies, hidden form fields or URL query strings and is intended for optimal site functionality. 

API security is absolutely critical within your business and is becoming the backbone of most modern applications. It encompasses all security practices related to program-based APIs, ensuring the protection of data and information stored. According to a RapidAPI survey, nearly all respondents agreed that successfully executing an API strategy is essential for businesses’ future revenue and growth. 

8 industry proven best practises which Logicmate can help expand and elevate the security of your businesses APIS: 

Test APIs

Waiting until an application is in production is too late to address security concerns. Instead we will integrate API security and testing early and continuously throughout the software development lifecycle 

Take account of all APIs

To secure APIs effectively, it is imperative to have visibility into their existence. Often organizations have limited visibility leading to the realization that certain APIs need to be discovered or overlooked. 

Logicmate can proactively find and inventory all APIs, including internal and external ones. This practice, known as API discovery, helps identify and address rogue, shadow, and zombie APIs

Expose API misconfigurations

Once APIs are correctly accounted for, the next step is to evaluate them for misconfigurations. Misconfigured networks can introduce vulnerabilities and serve as entry points for cyber attacks. Businesses must scan various sources to detect vulnerabilities, including log files, configuration files, and historical traffic replays. Classifying APIs based on data types and identifying those accessing sensitive information is also essential. This understanding helps maintain compliance and implement security measures.

Check API traffic for any deviation

Runtime protection is crucial to keep APIs secure during operation. It involves monitoring APIs in production, tracking known vulnerabilities, and detecting anomalies that could indicate an ongoing attack. Real-time monitoring of API usage enables the identification of suspicious behavior and potential security breaches. Advanced tools that leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can evaluate traffic against established access control settings. Additionally, runtime protection tools can track known API vulnerabilities and alert administrators to the need for patching or replacing specific APIs. API security should be integrated into broader threat detection and response processes.

Require user and device authentication

API authentication is essential to identify and authorize users and devices. Both entity-level and user-level authentication are crucial for comprehensive security. Entity-level authentication involves API keys, which serve as numeric identifiers for requesting entities or devices. API security solutions validate these keys to grant or deny access to the API. 

Use API Authorization for added security

Authentication grants access to the API, and determines what users, groups, and roles can access specific API resources. 

API authorization tools enable the definition of access control rules or grant types, ensuring that only authorized individuals can access specific API resources. Following the principle of least privilege helps prevent unauthorized access and potential data breaches.

Control API requests

API rate limiting is a crucial layer of access control that prevents abuse and ensures the availability of APIs. Organizations can prevent malicious and non-malicious consequences by controlling the number of requests that can be made to an API. Token-based authentication systems are commonly used to implement API rate limiting. Configuring resource and rate limiting properly is essential to prevent one business from monopolizing API resources and adversely affecting others.

Stay updated with API security risks

To effectively protect APIs, developers must stay informed about the latest security techniques and threats. Subscribing to Google alerts for API and cybersecurity-related keywords can help developers stay updated on industry websites and blogs. Developers can configure their APIs to mitigate potential attacks.

Implementing these practices enables businesses to have a robust API security posture and safeguard their valuable data and applications. Have you asked if your APIs and data are secure? If in doubt, get in touch with the team who can support you with more information on software security and best practices today.

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