NextRoll, a leading Marketing data insights company, uses machine learning to generate insights that improve its customers marketing strategies by targeting buyers in strategic ways from one platform.
A company that processes and interprets market data to deliver strategic insights, NextRoll felt the significant impact of an unknown API catalog and attack surface. Processing so much data presents security and visibility challenges. Earlier standards of database monitoring and Web Application Firewalls are not enough to secure that data.
“One of the biggest focuses we have is on end-users’ data rights. We need to be extremely conscious that the data is being used correctly and is protected.”
Needing to remain compliant and to protect their API attack surface by understanding their risk posture and identifying where sensitive data was flowing, NextRoll sought a solution that would address all of their concerns.
With these concerns top of mind, NextRoll made adoption of an API Security platform a top priority.
With Traceable, now I understand where the data is going. We knew we had data that was at risk, and with Traceable we are able to find and secure all data flowing through APIs using a single platform.
Head of Product Security
Valcárcel leads both the product security and the security engineering teams prioritizing API cataloging and API protection.
Launched in 2006, Nextroll’s mission is to level the playing field for businesses by creating a reliable and understandable platform.
Using Machine Learning serving two high-growth markets positions NextRoll to process more market data than competitors, creating over 150 billion daily buyer predictions.
API sprawl and an unknown, vulnerable attack surface causes major concerns for the Product Security Team at NextRoll. Aside from adhering to compliance standards, Valcárcel recognized a problem requiring remediation as part of their drive to better understand their APIs.
The lack of visibility into their APIs made it hard for the Product Security team at NextRoll to manage their large data sets in a way that would scale with the ever-changing industry regulations. Their concern became how to remain compliant in protecting their APIs and the end-users’ data without slowing down their data processing.
The frequency of changes to APIs began to create serious difficulties in understanding risk posture, and without an accurate API inventory, it’s even harder to prevent data exfiltration and attacks. “We have a very big microservice architecture: We’re processing petabytes of data a day on internet traffic related to people’s preferences. And some of those microservices or even pipelines do not have a data store. They just go through an API that collects data, processes it, and outputs it to another API,” said Valcárcel.
Traditional WAFs are inadequate for securing APIs. With the rise of API usage, data control is necessary both inside and outside the network. Valcárcel emphasized the need for sensors outside the perimeter to protect data flowing through APIs. Database monitoring is inaccurate and manual systems design leads to mistakes and misleading information. Manual data cataloging is insufficient and unreliable.
According to Valcárcel, “Manual data cataloging is never enough, it’s never accurate.”
In their search, Valcárcel and the NextRoll team acknowledged multiple players offering partial solutions that addressed certain aspects of industry regulations but failed to provide a scalable, comprehensive solution that could address both current and anticipated regulatory concerns.
Despite NextRoll having their deployment in the AWS cloud, the team did not consider the AWS WAF solution, knowing they needed more. Similarly, they opted out of using Signal Sciences, Salt, and NoName. “These solutions did not offer a data privacy component.”
“Traceable offered the privacy and API Security component that was closest to what we were looking for. In fact, Traceable was able to develop that aspect of the product further by integrating our feedback. It has since been even more developed.”
Traceable also eliminated the need for 3 separate security tools, saving money and minimizing context switching for their team. According to Valcárcel, “Before Traceable, we would have needed at least three tools: the WAF, runtime application security, and the data scanner.”
Traceable validated their belief that their data passing through APIs needed to be closely monitored. Said Valcárcel, “Traceable confirmed our suspicions. We knew there were data privacy concerns that we had not uncovered using traditional methods, but without Traceable cataloging our APIs, I was not able to prove it. It was more like a hunch.” Valcárcel confirmed that Traceable was not only able to confirm his suspicions, but also able to provide a full picture of his API attack surface. “Once we got access to the Traceable API, I was able to build up a full data map of where data was flowing and which endpoints were getting what information. So, after some scripting, I was able to get a very clear picture.”
The depth of visibility helped both the security and development teams understand what needs to be addressed and to not only provide a fix, but also to secure their APIs going forward.
With Traceable, NextRoll drastically improved their mean time to resolve (MTTR) bugs. Said Valcárcel, “We have a bug bounty program, and it will identify bugs and their URLs paths, and it directs us to various applications to take action. This presented the problem of understanding how to follow that URL path and how to direct the engineering team to a fix. The usual process involves looking into the configuration to determine which microservice serves that path and using that to troubleshoot.” Such a complex process of trial and error takes time.
With Traceable, their mean time to triage has been reduced from one day to less than one hour, and they are able to find and resolve security issues before bug hunters do. “With Traceable, because I have an agent in that microservice already, now I can see the URL path and what it serves much faster. Traceable helped us identify ownership on different incidents at a much faster rate. With Traceable I have the agents, I can tie URLs to microservice.”
Visibility of APIs went from 10% at best to now close to 80%, a massive improvement based on the limitations of our high-volume data intake and performance-sensitive systems.
Traceable eliminated the need for point solutions, in turn removing the pain of context switching for his team, and saving NextRoll both time and money. “We are using Traceable to replace our need for WAF, runtime application security, and data scanners,” said Valcárcel, “We are replacing Signal Sciences with Traceable at the end of August, 2022.”
The security team at NextRoll plans to implement greater focus on Traceable’s expanding API catalog offering, focusing particularly around data privacy and protecting sensitive data.
I think that the thing I love the most about Traceable is the Traceable team. We have very open communication, they are super open to bouncing ideas, hearing feedback, and moving the product in a direction that actually works for us.
Head of Product Security
Traceable is the industry’s leading API security platform that identifies APIs, evaluates API risk posture, stops API attacks, and provides deep analytics for threat hunting and forensic research.
With visual depictions of API paths at the core of its technology, its platform applies the power of distributed tracing and machine learning models for API security across the entire development lifecycle. Visual depictions provide insight into user and API behaviors, understanding anomalies and blocking API attacks, enabling organizations to be more secure.