7 Questions to Ask Yourself for Top API Security
API SecurityAPI ManagementAPI Strategy

7 Questions to Ask Yourself for Top API Security

34% of responders have experienced 100+ attempted attacks per month, up from 30% a year ago(2022), with 94% of survey respondents says that they have experienced security problems in production APIs. Only 31% of respondents are addressing security gaps during runtime/production, which is troubling as most successful API attacks target gaps in logic flows that cannot be identified during pre-production testing.

This is worrisome given that API requests account for 83% of all application requests. There is an expectation that the actual number of API requests will exceed 42 trillion by 2024 (source: Akamai Technologies).Malicious attackers have increasingly preferred APIs over more traditional web forms, because API performance is higher and the cost of performing an attack is lower. Without secure digital infrastructure in place to protect against this growing problem, APIs are left vulnerable to cyberattack and data exposure. An API management platform is vital to creating a security strategy that can protect your APIs as it centralizes users and endpoints in one place and makes them easier to monitor.

Whether an API is exposed for customers, partners, or internal use, it is responsible for transferring data that often holds personally identifiable information (PII) or reveals application logic and valuable company data. Hackers want to intercept and exploit your weaknesses in order to gain access to API endpoints and data, so continually reviewing your API security is a best practice for good governance

7 Questions to Ask Yourself for Top API Security 

1. Am I up to date?

Doing your research on the latest security threats is a great way to start thinking about potential scenarios where your API could come under attack. Signing up for newsletters, following blogs, and making yourself aware of initiatives such as the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) for example, will help you keep up with industry challenges and standards. 

2. Am I aware?

As our use of APIs increases, so does the potential attack surface for hackers to access and gain entry to misuse an API or the data it stewards. Knowing the types of API attacks possible makes it easier to protect against them. Here are just some to look out for: 

  • Injection – when an attacker inserts malicious code instead of an ordinary user input. Common ones include SQL injection, OS command injection, and XML injection. 
  • Cross-site scripting (XSS) – similar to an injection attack but uses the code of a web app or webpage. 
  • Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack — shuts down a machine or network, making it inaccessible to its intended users.
  • Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) – attackers will overwhelm an API endpoint with traffic to make it inoperable for users.
  • Man-in-the-middle (MitM) – often occurring between the client app and API or the API and its endpoint, attackers will impersonate one system to the other in order to intercept traffic. 

Credential stuffing – where unauthorized access is gained via the use of stolen API authentication.

3. Is my API portfolio well managed?

A well-managed API portfolio will help protect your inventory products and give users the frictionless experience they’re looking for. Whether you've several or several hundred APIs, the value of an API management platform comes from its ability to ease the workflow for developers, while enforcing standards of quality and governance. Low-code offerings and automation reduce workload, while a centralized platform gives a clear overview of an ecosystem and its APIs at every stage of their lifecycle.

4. Is confidential information eliminated?

Eliminating confidential information from exposed APIs is a first stage in API security management that can be so obvious it’s sometimes overlooked by developers. Sensitive data such as passwords and developer keys should be removed or encrypted prior to any exposure of an API to prevent a misuse. And always consider the consequences of your APIs by asking:

  • Should this be connected to that?
  • Should this data be shared via that API?
  • Who should have access to that data?

5. Is data encrypted?

Any API exchanging sensitive data such as PII, login credentials, payments, and security information, needs to ensure data is encrypted. Encryption is central to several API protocols that is paramount to API security, especially in preventing MitM attacks. Developers should use a reliable technique such as TLS (Transport Layer Security) so that only authorized users can make any modifications or decrypt data. This is typically done via your API runtime platform.

6. Are my APIs authorized and authenticated?

API authorization should give users the minimal access they need for their role, and no more! This method of least privilege is a basic security measure that prevents bad actors from the opportunity to manipulate or misuse sensitive data. Implementing API authorization via OAuth 2.0 means administrators can set custom access rules that are only permitted based on the request source, further protecting APIs and digital ecosystems.

7. What API security tests will I use?

Developing APIs with a number of potential security tests in mind is the best way to protect APIs against vulnerabilities from the outset. This design-first approach to API testing and deployment creates more stable ecosystems, and a low-code API management platform further simplifies the process through templates and automation. 

The safety of each API you create — and especially any you expose to other systems or external users — is integral to protecting the overarching digital ecosystem it exists in, so don’t overlook the value of a well-thought-out API security strategy. This priority has to be met before you can even consider any API monetization strategies.

API management platforms help developers and administrators to ensure the protection of APIs at every stage of their lifecycle, so don’t hesitate to book a free APIwiz demo to find out more.  

Written By

Balaji Vijayan Platform Engineer


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