API Security: The Problem and its Solution | Part II

Welcome to the second part of our blog series on API Data Security. This blog series will cover details regarding the API-First Mindset in today’s tech world and the Importance of API security. Read part one of the blog here. At the end of this series, you will be able to access our whitepaper titled API Data Security. On that note….

The API-First Mindset

With respect to companies who have confirmed that they are working on digital transformation initiatives, 84.5% reported that APIs are helping them achieve that. APIs have become such a critical component to digital transformation that an “API-first” mindset becomes more and more important. An API-first mindset is an approach to software design that places API design and adherence at its core. It creates ecosystems of applications that are modular, reusable, and extensible, much like Lego blocks.


Many applications are still built “code-first”. Our applications are built to fulfil a business problem. The way that the application works with other applications is not the highest priority and as a consequence can often be difficult to re-use outside of the initial use case.

An API-first design demands that the way our application will work with others is our first consideration, not the last. By designing APIs that fulfil specific functions in processes and that can be easily integrated together, we create a lower cost technology landscape that is capable of quickly flexing, morphing and expanding – all the things are organisations are demanding from technology.


Needless to say, the API is the king of the 20th century’s digital advancements. However, as the popular saying goes, “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”. API connectivity enables much easier data sharing, but this paves way for major security challenges for individuals and organisations alike. This paper discusses the security challenges faced by APIs today, possible ways to keep a check on API data security and also eXate’s innovative need-of-the-hour security solution.


API data security And Its Importance

APIs create a risk to an organisation, there’s no getting around this fact. The deployment of APIs often puts data security and delivery velocity in direct conflict.


For many years technology teams have had the siege mentality approach to data security. As long as it’s behind the castle walls (corporate firewall) we are safe. When we start deploying APIs we’re essentially taking the stones out of the castle wall and telling everyone that we have done so!


If we are going to weaken our traditional security barriers, we need new and different types of defences. Our new “open-door” model is now of interest to attackers, is at risk of data misuse and many other threats that simply were not historically there. Therefore, we need robust and fool-proof security and protection mechanisms against new classes of risks as a result of using APIs.


According to Gartner, by 2022, API abuses will become the most frequent attack vector. Already, many well-publicised API data security vulnerabilities affect a wide range of organisations. A major cause of this is that most companies do not have complete visibility of the APIs that they have deployed. Studies show that 30% of the APIs are unmanaged or even unknown.


API data security refers to the protection of the integrity of APIs — both owned and used by an organisation [18]. Broken, exposed, or hacked APIs have resulted in major data breaches. In today’s highly diverse market, most organisations are greatly dependent on using APIs for a variety of services in order to gain that all-important competitive edge. A single data breach can expose millions of records, resulting in loss of reputation, monetary losses and a liability that can linger on for years.


As data enters and leaves the cyberspace at record rates, most organisations are trying to protect their information from data breaches and leaks by using Data Leakage or Loss Prevention (DLP) systems. DLP is often thought of as a technology that simply stops all unauthorised information flows once it has been installed. In reality a DLP system should be part of the information life cycle management process and must focus on ensuring that organisations can share the information it needs to, both internally and externally, in a correct, accountable and secure manner. DLP is a term that has made its way up the data protection checklist for organisations.


Not all data is the same nor should it be protected in the same way, a one- size-fits all solution might not be the best way to tackle the API data security problem. The appropriate approach to API and data security will depend on what kind of data is being transferred.

 

Stay tuned for more...Next up on this blog series, “Traditional API data Security Solutions” and “eXate’s F.A.S.T. Strategy to Ensure Data Security ” – Coming soon!

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