Shalom Carmel, CIO @ GlobalDots
06.02.2022
image 8 Min read

What is an API?

API is an acronym for an application programming interface. It is a set of rules that allow software programs to communicate. In the business world, APIs are important because they allow companies to share data and functions. It allows businesses to automate tasks and improve communication between departments. 

API also allows businesses to tap into the power of the internet. There are thousands of different APIs available online, and companies can use them to access data or functions that they would not be able to get otherwise. For example, a company might use an API to connect its website with a social media platform like Facebook. This would allow the company to automatically post new products on their Facebook page or gather data about how people interact with their website.

Overall, API is an important tool for businesses of all sizes. It can help companies automate tasks and improve communication between departments. If you are looking for a way to improve your business operations, API might be the answer!

11 Benefits of APIs to Business Operations

  1. Increases Productivity: API enables various software programs to communicate and share data. It helps automate certain tasks and improve the overall communication between different departments within a company.
  1. Saves costs: Since API allows businesses to use the data and functions of other companies, it eliminates the need to develop these features in-house. It can save a business time and money on software development costs.
  1. Improves Customer Service: By connecting different software programs, API provides businesses with a holistic view of their customer support operations. This information can help companies make better decisions about allocating their resources.
  1. Helps In Decision Making: The data that API provides can help businesses make informed strategic decisions about various issues such as product development, marketing, and customer service. This valuable data would otherwise not be accessible without the use of APIs.
  1. Improves Connectivity and Collaboration: API allows businesses to connect with other companies and various online platforms and services. It helps build better partnerships, develop new business opportunities, and improve the overall efficiency of a company’s operations.
  1. Encourages Innovation: API provides a platform for businesses to experiment with new ideas and technologies. The vast number of APIs available online encourages businesses to be creative and explore new ways to use these APIs to improve their operations. It helps foster innovation within companies and leads to better, more efficient business practices.
  1. Enhances Customer Experience: Businesses can provide their customers with a more seamless and enhanced experience through APIs. It could be anything from providing customer support through social media platforms to integrating e-commerce functionality into existing websites.
  1. Improves Marketing: API can help businesses better understand their customers through data analysis. Companies can use this information to target specific demographics with relevant and customized marketing campaigns.
  1. Collects Data for Intelligence Analytics: Businesses can use API to collect customer behavior and preferences. This data can then be analyzed to understand customer trends and needs better.
  2. Creates New Revenue Opportunities: API provides businesses with a platform to sell their products and services. It could be anything from selling data access to other companies to developing new software applications based on existing APIs.
  1. Builds New Product Capabilities: Businesses can use API to build new products and services. It could involve developing integrations with other companies’ APIs or creating completely new APIs specific to a company’s needs.

The importance of APIs for business operations cannot be overstated. Companies can automate tasks, improve communication between departments, access valuable data, and use APIs.

Why Attackers Love APIs?

An API (Application Programming Interface) is a set of protocols that allow software programs to communicate with each other. APIs have become an important part of business operations, as they enable various software programs to share data and functions. This helps automate certain tasks and improve the overall communication between different departments within a company.

As APIs have become more popular, they have also become a target for hackers. There are several reasons why attackers are drawn to APIs:

  1. API Is an Easy Way to Gain Access to Company Data: API provides direct access to the stored data within different software programs. This can include sensitive information such as customer data or credit card information. When an API is compromised, hackers can easily access this data.
  1. API Can Be Used to Steal Company Secrets: Hackers can use APIs to extract confidential information from a company’s systems. This could be trade secrets or proprietary technology that is not publicly available.
  1. API Can Be Used to Disrupt Company Operations: A hacker who can exploit an API can potentially cause a lot of damage to a company. This could include disrupting the flow of data between different software programs or even crashing the entire system.
  1. API Allows Hackers to Bypass Security Measures: Many companies use firewalls and other security measures to protect their systems from hackers. However, you can easily bypass these security measures if a hacker can exploit an API. 

As you can see, API provides several benefits for businesses and attackers. Companies need to understand the risks of using APIs and take appropriate steps to protect themselves from potential attacks.

11 Most Common API Security Risks

  1. Broken Object Level Authorization: In this scenario, the attacker can access objects they should not have access to. This could include sensitive data or privileged information.
  1. Broken User Authentication: In this case, Authentication mechanisms are often implemented incorrectly, allowing attackers to gain access to resources without proper authorization and compromising the integrity and safety of the system. Falsifying usage credentials can lead to other user information being permanently taken, and the disruption of API security is due to the compromise of identification mechanisms.
  1. Excessive Data Exposure: In this scenario, the attacker can access more data than they should be able to. This could include personal information or confidential company data.
  1. Mass Assignment: In this case, Mass Assignment occurs when client-provided data (e.g., JSON) is bound to data models without sufficient properties filtering based on an allow-list. Attackers can edit object properties they aren’t allowed to by guessing, researching other API endpoints, reading the documentation, or giving new object properties in request payloads.
  1. Security Misconfiguration: This happens when the developer’s security controls are ineffective or not turned on. As a result, attackers can gain access to sensitive data or systems.
  1. Injection occurs when an attacker can inject malicious code into an API data request. It could allow the attacker to control the system or steal data.
  1. Lack of Resources & Rate Limiting: APIs rarely limit the maximum size or quantity of data requested by a client. It can affect the performance of the API server, allowing Denial of Service (DoS). In addition, this opens the door to authentication vulnerabilities like a brute force attack.
  1. Broken Function Level Authorization: Complex authorization procedures with multiple hierarchies, groupings, roles, and an unclear buffer zone between administrative and regular duties often lead to authorization failures. An attacker can gain access to other users’ resources or another organization’s administrative functions to exploit these vulnerabilities.
  1. Security Misconfiguration: This can result from a missing or incorrect configuration, opened cloud storage, ad hoc configurations, unnecessary HTTP methods, misconfigured HTTP headers, permissive Cross-Origin resource sharing (CORS), and verbose error messages containing sensitive information.
  1. Improper Asset Management: In this scenario, the attacker can access assets they should not have access to. This could include software libraries with known vulnerabilities.
  1. Insufficient Logging & Monitoring: Attackers often tend to run their attacks stealthily before the attack is detected, so companies need to monitor and log API activity. Without proper monitoring, an attacker can launch a successful attack without being discovered.

API Security Best Practices

Identify Vulnerabilities: Examining the phases of your API’s life cycle wherein the vulnerabilities are certain is your first task to secure them with a thorough knowledge of how each stage of your API protection functions. You’ll be able to pinpoint weaknesses that hackers could exploit. Scanning for bad codes and validating your codes can help you ascertain where issues arise.

Use Token: An access token lets you gain access to a certain API and request authorization to access it. Once authentication and authorization are finished, a token is granted to the identity. The token allows you to create trusted identities and assign them to control individual API access, which lets you create trusted identities to play crucial roles in access control.

Data Encryption: Using Transport Layer Security (TLS) to encrypt information and digital signatures helps to ensure that only authorized users gain access to sensitive information.

API Gateways: API gateways are like a central access point or centralized point of entry for every API call and allow access to authenticated API traffic. The gateway also enables development teams to implement other security measures easily.

API Security Integration

How To Ensure Your API Security Integrates Well with Your Web Security Ecosystem?

Help Developers Easily Find and Use the Best APIs

Access to an API should be treated like any other service. A self-service portal for developers will make it easier than ever before, giving you control over which third-party solutions they can use and integrate your applications with external ones through partnerships or integrations!

Ensure APIs Provide Authentication for Both End-Users and Applications 

The OAuth standard for API security is a popular method to ensure only suitable connections are made by the people and systems that should be connecting. Businesses use this open protocol with an automated toolkit generating tokens, controlling what they can do based on user profiles in place – ensuring your data stays safe!

Provide Input Validation 

Attackers are always looking for ways into your system and will utilize any vulnerability they can find. As a result, we must remain vigilant against these attacks by making sure all data is sent back in response matches what was expected so vulnerabilities cannot be used maliciously against us!

Protect Sensitive Data 

When data is passed between the API and the requesting user or application, it ensures its safety by creating an encrypted link using the TLS protocol.

Monitor And Analyze API Traffic 

The ability to identify potential threats and understand whether increased resources are needed will help you operate your API more effectively. You can also use this data for new business opportunities, such as implementing a license that charges users who make more than X calls per day on APIs-enabled services.

API Integration Done Right

To help you develop a robust and effective API security strategy, check out our eBook: Top Strategies for API Security.

In addition, having a technology partner specialized in web security is your fastest, most effective way of adopting API security.

Conclusion

API Security is not about protecting an application or website; it’s about protecting your business. Now, no business can eliminate API threats, but how your security architecture is built will greatly impact your risk level and your time spent in mitigation efforts.

A process in place for integrating API security into every stage of the application life cycle ensures that APIs are constantly being monitored and tested so any new vulnerabilities are quickly identified and fixed before attackers can exploit them. Therefore, implementing best practices will help you increase your chances of defeating the attackers that are just waiting to find those hidden gaps in your defenses. A technology partner who has a holistic view of your infrastructure is highly advised.

Contact us for more information on integrating API security with your ecosystem.

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