The increase in the use of API has led to many conveniences in software development processes. It is one of the easiest ways to exchange data. The increase in the use of API also brought some problems. The most important of these is API security. If you are developing an API, you must ensure the security of this API.
API security is the process of protecting APIs from attacks. Because APIs are so widely used in applications, they become a primary target for attackers. In short, API security means preventing or mitigating attacks made or likely to be made against APIs. APIs are developed from a backend application and often work with datasets, so the data they pass is sensitive.
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Why is Web API Security Important
Today, especially with the rise of IoT applications, API security has become more and more important. People transfer important and sensitive data between applications they interact with via APIs. An insecure API can cause hackers to steal all information.
One of the most popular methods of ensuring security in API development processes is API token, also known as access token. Let’s examine the API token.
An API token, sometimes called an access token, is a small set of code that contains relevant information about a user. Even though this code set looks small because it is encrypted, it can actually contain large data.
A token created with the API token mechanism is a verification method that provides a control and security mechanism by the developers against those who want to use the API we created. By using the token authentication method, the API developer provides control to the clients who want to use the API, and in this way applies a controlled expansion. A token is created on the server side for a certain period of time for the user who enters the correct username and password during the audit. By using this token, the user can benefit from the blessings of the API.
API token lifecycle:
- client enters its own security information and this information is sent to the Authorization Server.
- If the Authorization Server validates this information, an Access Token Http Response is returned to the client.
- The client now provides access to the services it wants to access by adding the Access Token it has obtained to the Authorization Header of the Http Request.
Many major service providers currently use OAuth 2.0 in their systems and applications. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s probably the most secure API security method currently in use.
What is OAuth2.0
The OAuth protocol is an open protocol that provides secure authorization to Web, Mobile and Desktop applications in a simple and standardized way. Thanks to OAuth, the secure provision of data with limited access, i.e. protected data, has been simplified.
OAuth 2.0 is an open authorization protocol that allows applications to access data between each other. OAuth is a protocol for application authorization, not user authentication. An app allows users to be authenticated by another app.
Today, most of the social media applications (Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.) support the OAuth 2.0 protocol. For example, the fact that a website offers a login option to its users with a Facebook or Google account among the Login options is possible thanks to the fact that these applications perform user authentication and application authorization using the OAuth protocol.
In the OAuth 2.0 protocol, the path that the user (client) follows to access the required data is called flow. For example, accessing the access_token or id_token information is done as part of a flow process.
The starting point of the circulation system is the Resource Owner. Resource Owner starts the authorization flow through the Client Application. The Authorization Grant request is transferred to the Authorization Server via the application. When the user is authenticated, an Access Token is sent to the Client Application side to access the resource. It is now possible to access the information on the Resource Server with the Access Token.
API security is an essential component of modern web application security. APIs can have security vulnerabilities such as broken authentication, lack of authorization, rate limiting. With API tokens, app owners can keep their APIs secure.