Artificial Programming Interface (APIs) are the integral part which is facilitating the digital transformation via different strategies and securing those APIs is one of the biggest challenges. Today, API has become the platform on which the massive data is being loaded and be it, education, weather, gaming, business, arts or science, everything works on APIs today. API Integration for eCommerce has boosted their business especially during these lockdown times due to COVID 19. But despite high dependency on APIs, very little attention is being given to the security of API integration solutions. API is deeply rooted in the shipment processes as well which fastened the delivery process. Shipping API integration has overall given an enhanced experience to the end users and have also contributed to get the huge business and making good profit out of it.
As of now, for the developers, the default of their framework is enough for the security. And for the system admins, they completely rely on the default security offered by the infrastructure or the service provider. But this is not enough at all, and one realizes the importance of apt security until something terrible takes place. The consequences can be listed as below:
- Compliance Issues
If one does not secure the APIs properly and if this is discovered by any legal body, then it would lead to massive compliance issues and legal troubles which consequently lead to shutdown of businesses.
- Business Loss
If the endpoints of your APIs are not secured and someone messed up with these end-points, then this security breach can lead to heavy business losses which gets difficult to overcome.
- Loss of Reputation
If the API security is breached and the incident gets public, the brand has to suffer from severe damage to the brand image. If this happens with some brand, then this loss of reputation leads to loss of customers as well as the end-users starts doubting the security parameters of the company and they find it unreliable.
- Competitors takes advantage
Even if there is no loss of data due to lack of API security but the news of getting breached is enough for the competitors to highlight the weakness of the firm and brag about how high-end security does, they maintain at their end.
- Increased bill of infrastructure
API consumes lots of resources like computer, CPU, bandwidth, memory etc. And if the API is not well-secured then the malicious attackers might force the APIs to conduct pointless work which will consume more of the infrastructure and ultimately the bill will be inflated.
The above points explains how the insecure APIs result in loss in several ways. Thus, it is important to know by what steps the endpoints of the API can be secured. Below steps are recommended by the security experts,
- Passwords should be asymmetric
It is always suggested to have an asymmetric or one way password. In case of using the plain text, if a password is breached, then all the user accounts will get unsecured. Also, if the password is in symmetric encryption, then it will be easier for any attacker to decode the password.
So, if the password is in asymmetric form, then it will be secured from the developers as well as attackers.
- Inventorying APIs
If one keeps track of where the traffic at your APIs is coming from then one can get an idea on how the related information and feed is going to be used by the attackers. Also, it will disclose the APIs which are not under the radar of security measures.
Regular monitoring of the API traffic should be done from inside. One should be able to break the incoming traffic as per the user, as per API, as per token, as per IP across all the API silos. Also integrate the API with the existing threat detection and security system, this will keep a check for any abnormal activity. This will help to get a better understanding of what is actually happening, if its malfunction or some kind of external attack.
Once we are aware of the source, then we can take the security measures accordingly.
3) Control of API access
One can define the rules to access the APIs which decide which group, identities, individual attributes, and roles can access the specific APIs resources. JWT, OAuth are some of the standards used to authenticate the API traffic.
One can also apply the Zero trust security principle if the API transactions actually go through multiple networks. This will propagate identity to each layer to have their own decisions, respectively.
4) Always HTTPS
Connecting over HTTP should be a compulsion and not an option. If the APIs allow the API consumers to talk over non secure standards, then it is quite risky. It becomes very easy for the middleman to get the credit card passwords, secret keys, or any password.
5) If applicable, then enforce the filtering of IP address
If one is into B2B business and the API is used by different businesses from different but set locations, then an extra layer of security should be included as it will restrict the IP address from different locations which can easily access your APIs. Hence, for every new client and new location, against any incoming request, the IP address will be checked thoroughly.
This will overall maintain a strict security of the APIs.
6) Using Tools as first line of API protection
There are several tools which increase security manyfold. Some of them are Metsploit, Cloudflare, Nesparker, SoapUI Pro, Sqreen, Okta. There are a number of security tools available in the market, some are open source and are available for free, some are commercial, and some are a mix of both. Thus, the companies should always invest in these tools to maintain the security.
7) Apply rate limiting
If the APIs are used by a certain limited number of people, then one can limit the number of calls a client can make to the API in a given scheduled time. This overall discourages bots, which prevents the APIs from getting excess consumption.
8) API Security testing
9) Validate the Input
One should always validate the input data coming through different endpoints of the API. For example, if one does not verify the inputs and if it is SQL injection then it will completely wipe out the database. Similarly, endlessly large inputs should not be accepted without validating or else it would screw the APIs.
Looking at the crucial and important role that the APIs play in the digital transformation of any business processes, the chances of being attacked by the outsiders increases. And as APIs have access to all sensitive and important databases provided by the system, it always demands for a very secure approach. A tight security compliance should be followed for securing APIs dedicatedly.