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API Security Best Practices

What Are The API Security Best Practices To Follow?

Updated on: 14/02/2023

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API security has been the talk of the cybersecurity sector as it has made a reappearance since last year. According to a report from analysis firm Gartner, API attacks have emerged as the number one threat vector in 2022. API attacks have almost crippled multiple industries including retail. With time, this is likely to increase. Thus, this calls for reformed API security best practices. This article will not only focus on the best practices for this year, but it will also cover some basics to help you understand more on the subject.

What Is An API?

API is the abbreviated term for Application Programming Interface. It is defined as the set of protocols for building as well as integrating software. In simple terms, APIs are useful for communication or data exchange between various software systems located remotely. For instance, the updated weather report on your mobile’s weather app from the weather bureau.

Why Is API Security Necessary?

Data is transferred and services are connected using APIs. Exposed, broken, or even hacked APIs lead to major data breaches. What does this mean? It means that after an API attack leading to an API breach, the hackers get the financial, medical, personal, or other crucial data for public consumption. That said, how you see API security completely relies upon what kind of data is transferred. 

This means that if your API is connected to a third-party application, the API is funneling information back to the internet. So with the instance of the weather reporting app, you might not be bothered if others see the updated weather forecast. However, you will be concerned if other people get to track your location.

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Top 5 Most Common And Effective API Security Best Practices

Do you keep your savings under your mattress? Of course not! The majority of the human population trusts a bank where they can keep their savings safe. They employ various approaches to authenticate and authorize payments. API security is quite similar to this. In this situation, you also need a trustworthy environment having policies for authorization and authentication. 

The following are some of the API security best practices that you need to abide by to be safe:

1. Employ Encryption And Signatures

Encryption is one of the major steps to protect your data. Thus, you need to protect your data using TLS encryption. Additionally, you must integrate the requirement of signatures to make sure that the right users with the authorization are decrypting and modifying data. Implementing both features as a part of your API security ensures that there is no unauthorized access and eventual data loss.

2. Identify The Vulnerabilities

Security vulnerabilities or security loopholes can be very dangerous for your API. That said, you must always keep up with the network drivers, Operating System (OS), and API components. You must know how everything works together and locate the weak spots that might be abused to get into your APIs. Additionally, you must make use of sniffers for detecting security vulnerabilities and tracking data leaks.

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3. Integrate An API Gateway

API gateways perform as the major enforcement points for API traffic. A premium gateway will permit you to authenticate traffic besides controlling and analyzing how your APIs are being used.

4. Make Use Of Throttling And Quotas

You must place your quotas on the frequency of API calling as well as track its use through history. If you find more calls on your API, it may point toward your API being abused. However, it could also mean programming mistakes like calling the API in an infinite loop. Therefore, ensure throttling for protecting your APIs from Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks and spikes.

5. Make Use Of Tokens

Tokens assigned to trusted identities can be used to control access to services and resources.

API Management: What To Focus On?

Good API management is often the key to API security through API security best practices. Most API management platforms assist in three kinds of security schemes. These are as follows:

  • An API Key - It is a single token string. Meaning, it is a small hardware device that offers unique authentication information.
  • Basic Authentication - This can be either an APP ID or an APP key. It is a dual token string solution such as username and password.
  • OpenID Connect (OIDC) - It is a very simple identity layer placed on top of the popular OAuth framework. This refers to the fact that it verifies the user by retrieving basic profile information and simultaneously using an authentication server.

Make sure you choose an API manager that can handle all of these security schemes, and develop a plan to implement these API security best practices.

We hope that this article has been helpful. If you find this article on API security best practices useful, please share it with your friends, and colleagues so that they can protect themselves from API abuse. You can find more such informative topics under the Cyber Security category in our Knowledge Based section.

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