Application programming interfaces (APIs) are the “special formula” that makes connectivity possible in the modern digital world. They enable applications to communicate and allow developers to securely access data in the cloud or on-premise, allowing decision-makers to make smart choices. Therefore, API security is critical to enterprises. Without them, the digital economy will collapse. Business leaders should do more to protect them and the data communicated through them.
Since APIs serve as gateways to a ton of sensitive information, they inevitably pose potential security concerns. According to a recent survey, 91% of API developers and security professionals from different industries experienced API security issues in 2020. The findings put greater emphasis on the need to improve API security.
Follow the tips below to ramp up your API security.
5 Expert Tips to Improve API Security
- Utilize powerful encryption
Typically, API data travels over the internet in the same HTTP protocol that regular web data uses. Enterprises that put a premium on security will use the encrypted HTTPS protocol for both web and API traffic. However, it should not end with just checking that API URLs start with HTTPS. Businesses should verify that the recipients of information support the secure transport layer security versions 1.2 and 1.3, and block older versions of TLS and the insecure SSL protocol. Using powerful encryption will prevent attackers from eavesdropping on sensitive API transmissions.
- Require user authentication
Virtually all API communication should ask for authentication before giving the users access to information or performing any process. Publicly available APIs are an exception, but all other APIs should be limited to authenticated users, especially those available only internally. One of the simplest ways to provide authentication is through API keys, which work as a user’s password. Every time a user makes a request, an API key should be sent to verify their identity and level of access.
- Protect API Keys
Businesses should safeguard API keys the same way they secure any kind of password. Protecting API keys should be of utmost priority because it is expensive to lose access to specific accesses such as cloud access to attackers. To remedy fraudulent use and obtain additional protection will come with a costly price tag.
- Limit the number of user requests
More often than not, users unintentionally abuse API use by overwhelming it with a ton of requests. For example, a user might overload an API with requests to obtain massive amounts of data or verify changing information quickly. If a deluge of requests happens, it can go over the allowable back-end server capacity and render the APIs inaccessible to users who need them.
Public APIs should have situation-specific limits to allow legitimate users to make an appropriate amount of requests. These limits may differ depending on the type of user, but all limits should be taken into account in the total server capacity. Furthermore, particular limits may take effect if an organization predicts an upcoming high demand.
- Perform regular security check-up
One of the simplest ways to resolve API security pitfalls is to identify them early on. Performing regular security tests will expose security vulnerabilities and allow organizations to improve on them before any huge and expensive problem occurs. Regular security check-ups include pre-deployment testing, routine automated vulnerability scans, and periodic penetration tests.
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