API Security In an Agile World: What You Need to Know | Dreamfactory

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A lock symbolizing API Security.

The rise of web services creates many challenges that companies must address to avoid data breaches. Companies are embracing the power of APIs to extend their business capabilities. However, they began adopting them so quickly, security didn’t get as much attention as it deserved. Many organizations are now taking a strong look at API security to avoid being the next victim of a data breach. Here’s our take on security and what you can do to address it in your company.

What is API Security? 

Application programming interface (API) is an acronym for an application programming interface. APIs serve as connectors between different applications. They enable applications to exchange data and communicate with one another.

API security refers to security best practices applied to APIs. As described in the OWASP API Security Top 10, API security includes access control and privacy, as well as the detection and remediation of attacks.

Why API Security Is Important

Hackers will take advantage of any vulnerability to gain access to your systems. Why? Because they provide direct access to your backend and data. Securing APIs is a strategic priority due to the proliferation of APIs and their allure to cybercriminals. To avoid becoming the next victim, you must shift from an exclusive API management mindset that focuses primarily on authentication, authorization, and rate-limiting to an security posture that covers all API operations and infrastructures.

Use DreamFactory’s robust API management platform to generate a secure API in minutes. Sign up for our free 14 day hosted trial to learn how.

How API Security Is Different From Traditional Application Security

There are significant differences between securing APIs and traditional applications security. Previously, the task was simple: defend a single large application. That has changed.

Now, API developers hundreds of small web applications that need protection. Each microservice is its own environment that you must safeguard. Also, when securing APIs, you need to keep up with multiple API endpoints.

Common API Security Risks

Cybersecurity threats evolve regularly. Companies need to keep up with the latest threats to secure their APIs effectively. Following trusted sources like OWASP's top 10 API vulnerability list certainly helps provide information on the latest threats. 

  1. API1:2019 Broken Object Level Authorization
  2. API2:2019 Broken User Authentication
  3. API3:2019 Excessive Data Exposure
  4. API4:2019 Lack of Resources & Rate Limiting
  5. API5:2019 Broken Function Level Authorization
  6. API6:2019 Mass Assignment
  7. API7:2019 Security Misconfiguration
  8. API8:2019 Injection
  9. API9:2019 Improper Assets Management
  10. API10:2019 Insufficient Logging & Monitoring 

Best Practices For API Security

Securing APIs is challenging given the number of threats that plague companies. Not only that, as each attack grows more sophisticated, companies will need to find ways to keep up to date to ensure their systems remain secure.

API security is less concerned with API requests you make to other parties. The focus is on securing the APIs you control. Specifically those you expose directly or indirectly. It's also worth noting that securing APIs is a practice that cuts across multiple teams and systems. Securing APIs includes network security concepts like rate limiting and throttling, as well as data security, identity-based security, and monitoring/analytics concepts.

DreamFactory’s API management platform generates secure APIs that conform to OWASP standards. Sign up for our free 14 day hosted trial to learn how.

Leverage OAuth

Access control for authentication and permission is one of the most crucial parts of Securing APIs. OAuth, a token-based authorization mechanism that allows third-party services to access information without revealing user credentials.

Use Encryption

All data, particularly personally identifying data, should be encrypted using a technique like Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS). Developers should additionally require signatures to verify that data is decrypted and modified only by authorized users.

Use Rate Limiting And Throttling

APIs are a common target for Denial of Service (DDoS) and SQL injection attacks and brute force attacks. Set rate limits on how often your API can be called. Rate limiting is one of the many security configurations you can use to prevent common issues these types of issues and other performance and security problems. 

Use an API Gateway

API gateways are the central source of API call traffic enforcement. They analyze traffic, authenticate traffic and control API usage.

Develop a Security Strategy

A web API security strategy is vital to identifying risks in your API ecosystem. Threat models are best used as a preventative measure. However, they should also be considered a continuous cycle for assessing, mitigating, and preventing web application security vulnerabilities. 

Validate Input Parameters

Validating parameters helps ensure that incoming data is safe. Validate all incoming data against a strict schema that specifies permissible inputs.

Getting Started with DreamFactory

These are just a few of the API security best practices. Utilizing APIs for your digital transformation efforts is key to helping you gain a competitive edge. Following these suggestions helps keep your data secure.

Use DreamFactory’s robust API management platform to generate a secure API in minutes. Sign up for our free 14 day hosted trial to learn how.

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5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs APIs