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Access Key – What is Access Key?

What is access key?

Access keys are a security mechanism to grant programmatic access to the Prisma Cloud API; by default, only the System Admin gets API access, but other administrators can be granted API access. 

To reduce exposure and maintain security best practices, create an access key for a given timeframe and regenerate your API keys regularly.

Accesskey is also a keyboard shortcut that allows a computer user to navigate a specific web page in a web browser quickly.  They were first released in 1999 and immediately gained widespread browser support.

How do I find my access key?

An API key, or application programming interface key, is a code that computer programs use to communicate with one other.  The API, or application programming interface, is then used by the software or application to authenticate its user, programmer, or calling application to a website.

Application programming keys are typically used to track and regulate an interface. This is frequently done to avoid harmful or abusive API usage in question.

An API key can use a secret identification token and a unique identifier.  In addition, the key will usually come with a set of rights of access for the API—with which it is linked.

What are access keys?

It’s more challenging for an API to authenticate whether the app it’s communicating to is what it purports to be than it is for a face-to-face encounter.  In addition, APIs need to pinpoint their clients before allowing them to pass because they frequently reveal sensitive or confidential information. 

Otherwise, APIs can create significant security risks.

API keys are one example of a security measure: They operate as an ID card for the client executing an API request, allowing APIs to give the appropriate access privileges and monitor how their information is being used.

A Canadian web accessibility consultancy conducted an informal assessment in the summer of 2002 to evaluate if adopting Access Keys posed problems for adaptive technology users, particularly screen reading technology used by impaired and low vision users. Because “pointing and clicking” with a mouse is not an option for these users, they require several keyboard shortcuts to visit online pages. 

The consultant’s analysis revealed that most keystroke combinations were incompatible with one or more of these technologies, and their conclusion was to avoid utilizing access keys entirely.

Why do we need access keys?

People who have no difficulty controlling the mouse or clicking on links may benefit from access keys. To save files, open new windows, or copy and paste text, experienced desktop app users learn to employ keyboard shortcuts. 

Adding “hotkey” functions to a website by assigning access keys to menu items allows frequent visitors to spend less time shifting and clicking the mouse. However, because it almost invariably fails due to two significant weaknesses, this technique has been generally underutilized.

Projects are assigned API keys, whereas users are assigned authentication barriers.  Cloud Endpoints will manage both the authentication methods and the API keys in many circumstances. The following is what distinguishes the two:

  1. Authentication tokens are used to authenticate users or individuals using a website or service.
  2. The API key is used to identify the calling project.

The API verifies the API key submitted in a request against its client database, then accepts or rejects the query. If the request is approved, the API allows the client access to the API’s data and capabilities based on the client’s right of access, which is also tied to the API key.

API owners can also use API keys to track API activity, such as requests and the number of requests originating from specific customers. For example, the API administrators can sort by key to see all queries from a specific client because each request has a unique key.

When it comes to protecting the API from malicious traffic, this monitoring capability is extremely critical. Hackers regularly target APIs by forging credentials, injecting malicious code or flooding the API server with queries. An API can utilize keys to prevent requests from a specific user or prevent anonymous bot activity.

API keys are used to authenticate requests from projects and apps, not from separate individuals. An API key identifies the project from which the request originated, but it does not target specific users who have access to the project. This is a big security flaw that we’ll talk about later.

How to use an access key?

The first issue is that website visitors have no way of knowing if you’ve given your linked items accesskey characteristics. Even if they suspect you of having done so, they’d have to estimate which accesskey assignments you’ve made. 

  1. Users on Windows can use the accesskey feature by typing Alt + accesskey. 
  2. On a Mac, you’d use CTRL + accesskey (rather than Command + accesskey, which can have unintended consequences). 
  3. To enable a link in Internet Explorer, users may need to press the “enter” key.
  4. Access keys prioritize application commands in Windows.  The latter can still be reached from the keyboard by entering the menu shortcut key (typically ALT) followed by the letter relating to the requested menu item.

What about enterprise usage of access keys?

API keys are used to provide access to APIs.

  1. Project Identification

Determine which application or project is calling this API.

  1. Project Authorization 

Please verify that the calling application has been given permission to use the API and activated the API in their project.

API keys aren’t as safe as authentication tokens (see API Key Security), but they specify the application or project requesting an API. For example, the calling project generates them, and you can limit their use to a certain context, such as a network address or an Android or iOS app.

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