Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are the core of today’s online world. From mobile applications to business websites, everything coordinates via APIs. Therefore, protecting this major component is vital to avoid becoming another hacking statistic. This article delves into why we need API security.
What is an API?
In simple terms, an API is an intermediary software interface that connects other components of software architecture, essentially facilitating the functionality for a front-end application.
Some of these functionalities include,
- Data exchange and communication between two software or computers.
- Efficient content embedding from an app.
- Permitting content customization on apps or services in use.
- Ensuring improved accessibility to app components.
- Facilitating software changes/updates to match the evolving business requirements and threat detection landscape.
APIs are easy to manage, adaptable, flexible, and offer valuable services for developers. Depending upon the intended functionality and use cases, various API types exist today. These include:
- Open or Public APIs – available to use for anyone. These APIs are common in businesses sharing their apps with others.
- Partner APIs – are selectively available compared to public APIs. Private APIs often exist for facilitating business-to-business activities. Such APIs are accessible to selective users and employ robust authentication and security checks.
- Private or Internal APIs – are typically intended for internal use by their respective business. These APIs usually connect different teams to facilitate coordinated work.
- Composite APIs – particularly help with improving process execution. These APIs usually connect or combine more than one API to run a series of tasks in sequence. In turn, they help in streamlining processes and improving overall productivity.
Why is API Security important?
As evident from the above, APIs play an essential role in the overall IT infrastructure of web apps. Hence, a single weakness in the API may have a domino effect across all linked components. It may also include any other businesses that use the affected APIs.
According to the OWASP API Security Project, protecting an API is crucial since APIs deal with sensitive data as APIs form the links to the backend and naturally deal with important details, including personally identifiable information (PII). Consequently, any breach at this point can impact the integrity of the software and underlying network.
With rapidly evolving technologies, APIs inevitably need innovation. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of more vulnerabilities and the subsequent possibilities of active exploits.
According to Garner’s API security predictions for 2022, there will exponentially more attacks on APIs. In fact, it would probably become the number 1 attack vector to compromise enterprise web apps. Therefore, it is inevitable to employ robust security measures to protect APIs.
Common API Security Risks
Since an API is similar in nature to a web app, it can develop similar vulnerabilities that adversaries can exploit for malicious purposes. Doing so requires an attacker to find exploits with the underlying code.
OWASP lists the following as the top 10 API vulnerabilities.
- Broken object-level authorization
- Broken user authentication
- Excessive data exposure
- Rate limiting and lack of resources
- Broken function-level authorization
- Mass assignment
- Security misconfiguration
- Code injection (SQL, NoSQL, command injection, etc.)
- Improper assets management
- Insufficient logging and monitoring
How To Protect an API
API security is going to be a big buzz word for 2022 and we should all watch out for it. Ensuring you are protected from the OWASP top ten API vulnerabilities will help ensure that the underlying data within the app remains safe.
It is also advised to deploy various security tools to secure APIs, the most viable and handy strategy is by using a web application firewall (WAF) with robust WAF filters that deny malicious traffic.
Since API’s play a vital role in a product or service’s overall performance and functionalities, ensuring adequate API security is crucial. Additionally using a WAF like Indusface AppTrana can be a one-stop solution to ensure robust API security, which, in turn, warrants a secure web app environment.