4 Ways to Secure APIs in a Multi-cloud World

Most software used today live online using application programming interfaces, or APIs. It helps in ingesting and exposing data and staying updated — in short, helping us to work more effectively.

APIs have thousands of use cases and help in adding more features to manage existing I.T. infrastructure. However, the growing popularity is also adding a security threat to businesses. While they can be managed and configured quickly, the precise problem lies in living online.

APIs exist both inside and outside the corporate firewalls, which means that there is no secure perimeter. Though they’re a potential point to leverage for businesses, they also create a point of vulnerability.

So, how can companies deploy API-based development yet keep their environment secure? Let’s discuss some techniques that can help —

  1. Balance Security and Ease of Access 

Many organizations feel that locking down everything without giving any access is the right option. However, APIs need information to provide the right business value and functionality. Consequently, this means every API needs to be secured.

So, when you build digital experiences using APIs, move them as quickly as you can to make it safer. Innovation is not possible in strict policies and highly restrictive access.

You can use API management tools helps to mediate access to APIs — monitoring their use, automating developer sign-up, onboarding, authentication, and education.

While it’s common for businesses to apply these precautions to only some of their APIs, it could lead to uneven API governance — meaning you must secure all APIs.

2. Give Access to the Right Actors

Properly secured APIs provide authentication for both end-users and applications. The API security de-facto open standard — OAuth, enables token-based authentication and authorization.

This way, end-users and applications can get the right level of access to a protected resource — without having to disclose their sign-in credentials. OAuth lets a client who makes an API call exchange credentials for a token, giving the client access to the API.

The application uses a token that uniquely identifies a single application or user on a single device, keeping passwords secret. Tokens are an effective mechanism to control or limit an application’s access to a user’s account.

API monitoring and other management capabilities can also keep APIs secure. For example, some businesses have role-based access control (RBAC), which assigns varying levels of API access and privileges based on built-in user types.

3. Practical Traffic Management

Your API could face a high-force attack at any time. Cybercriminals might use automated software to make a large number of consecutive attempts — to gain access to protected data or put a strain on the back end by invoking APIs at a throughput for use beyond their deployment.

Such attacks are probably inevitable for businesses. This means that API teams should always consider using rate limits and quotas for adding an extra security layer.

In the event of cyber-attack, rate limits and quotas help you keep control of your organization’s digital assets and protect your customers’ experiences and privacy.

The API management platforms that support rate limits help API teams establish thresholds — the spike to which can trigger arrests and protect back ends from unexpected activities. For example, an API team can maintain that no one should call an API more than 500 times per second.

4. Get Effective Insights from Analytics

Digital assets are distributed across a range of geographies, public and private clouds, and API providers. Your API management and security should help in unifying the distributed architecture.

There should be an effective handoff between the security and operations teams. The reporting capabilities can facilitate effective security collaboration, so the right team gets notified when a situation calls for.

You need to analyze whether an API management platform provides monitoring and analytics capabilities. Also, if the integration can accelerate solutions to business problems.

At the feature level, this means effective reporting. The dashboards can provide at-a-glance insights and the ability to examine even granular details — making it simple to see traffic changes, access information about change management and governance data, analyze policy configuration data on a per-API and per-proxy basis, and so on.

Need to discuss in detail the security for your APIs? Get in touch with our team at GRIP I.T.