API Security
April 9, 2021

API Security Challenges: How to Manage APIs Amidst Continuous Change

APIs are an integral component of the "always-on" ecosystem. They're the pipeline that feeds many of our data-driven apps and other solutions. Deploying, managing, and monitoring our APIs in a real-time environment isn't always as easy as it might seem.

For one thing, traditional APIs are tethered to the REST format. There are many scenarios and applications in today's digital economy that doesn't address, unfortunately.

Let's take a look at some of the challenges facing API security and API management in a quickly-shifting world!

API Security and API Management For An Always-On World

APIs have become de rigeur in the development and data economy. Recent studies have shown that 66% of developerswere using some sort of API in their development stack.

Those figures are from a few years ago, even. Things have gotten even faster since then. It's hard to predict how much the disruption and decentralization will impact API adoption as well.

With everyone scrambling to either create or consume APIs, this leaves some opportunities for oversight when it comes to application security, unfortunately.

APIs and CI/CD

To start, let's consider the role that APIs play in DevOps and continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) scenarios. APIs are like the nervous system that conveys data to the pertinent endpoint.

DevOps and ci/cd are becoming so commonplace that they're essentially the norm for a lot of developers. They let you get product to market faster and discover potential problems more quickly.

DevOps and ci/cd move so quickly it can leave a product vulnerable, which is one of the first security problems you'll run into with API security and continual connectivity.

This speed means that sometimes steps get overlooked. Developers may cut corners to keep up with the rapid pace,

This is where things like AI and machine learning come into play. They're continually updated with the most recent security risks so compromised code gets discovered quickly.

Third Parties

This is more of a problem for the API consumers. Even APIs themselves might sometimes draw data from other APIs, as well.

Every API you add into your project introduces another potential security risk. If you're an app developer or API consumer in some other regard, it's often hard to tell where your APIs are coming from let alone how secure they are. After all, you can't look at their source code and make sure it's secure.

Nor would you want to - that's part of the point of using an API in the first place.

Now that APIs are becoming an established part of the development ecosystem, it's time to start thinking about having security systems in place to make sure your app or software stays safe and secure. Think of it as having antivirus software on your computer.

You wouldn't even use the internet without some form of endpoint security solution in place, would you? Now, why would you draw data from who knows where and assume that it will be secure?

Monitor Traffic

Another of the security risks that can come from working with APIs is a lack of control over who's accessing your data. Solutions that involve APIs have to have a certain amount of accessibility for the data to get in and out.

This can sometimes mean that cybercriminals can disguise themselves as an API and use that to access your app.

One example would be BOLA, or broken-object level authentication, where the vulnerabilities of APIs can be exploited.

If you want your API or API-related program to be secure, you need to keep an eye on where your traffic is coming from.

You'll also need to monitor what your traffic is doing. One common technique that hackers employ is using common file formats as a trojan horse to sneak files in. Many of the file formats consumed by APIs, such as JSON objects and XML files, are comprised of smaller parts and pieces. Some hackers have figured out how to sneak corrupt packets in using these file formats.

Exposed Structure

Any API that engages with the web publicly is going to be exposed to some degree. Creating endpoints is one of the reasons that developers create APIs in the first place.

These exposed endpoints can leaven an application vulnerable to attack. Not every developer has time to create an elegant layer to obscure your endpoints. This is another reason that it's useful to have machine learning and AI watching over your code as well.

One of the advantages of HTTP and web interface is it obscures your source code. The browser receives all of the raw code and translates it into the format your user will consume.

One of the drawbacks of APIs is that there's no such protective barrier. Someone who knows what they're looking for could look at your API documentation and with a little trial-and-error, someone could find out all manner of information about your app or website.

This is where behavioral analysis comes into play. If you're working with APIs in any regard, a certain amount of transparency and vulnerability is necessary. Things like AI and machine learning can monitor your app or web resource for suspicious behavior. This way your API-related software will still be able to function flawlessly and remain secure, at the same time.

Society is only going to continue to become more data-driven and fast-paced as the years progress. APIs and continuous connectivity will no longer be optional, but mandatory, in a switched-on world. Putting an API security solution in place prepares you and your customers for that world!

Need To Make Sure Your Application's Secure?

We've never been as reliant on our technology as we are today. It is barely an exaggeration to state that our entire lives are on our phones and digital devices. We need to make sure that they're secure.

If you're ready to find out how AI and machine learning can enhance your API security, watch a demo to see Traceable in action!

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