Today, the use of APIs in software applications has increased considerably. In particular, it started to meet the data needs of many businesses with a third-party API product. The widespread use of API has also created many security problems. Today, the security of APIs is fixed with an API key or secret token.
Any third-party API product that many businesses use for their data needs is one of the most popular examples of API key usage. Specific API key for users of third-party API providers. Users obtain data from API providers by adding this API access key to their API requests. Have you ever thought about why is the security and hiding of an API access key important?
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Why Do Developers Hide API Keys?
Hiding the API access key stands out as the most important way to secure API access. Some of the reasons why developers store API access keys are as follows:
- Security: Hiding your API access key ensures security during API access. The switch provides strong protection to prevent unauthorized access and potential data breaches.
- Data Protection: API keys often provide access to sensitive and paid data or services. Failure to keep the key secret could result in malicious or unauthorized access to this data and directly increase the risk of a data breach.
- Enterprise Security: API access keys can provide integration with an organization’s internal systems or services. Failure to keep keys secret can compromise the security of the organization. This could potentially result in service interruptions or attacks.
- Reputation and Financial Loss: If keys fall into the hands of malicious people, this can damage the reputation of the service provider and lead to financial losses.
What are the Common Ways to Hide the API Key?
There are many different ways to hide your API access key. Here are some steps on how developers can hide API access keys:
- Environment Variables: Developers can hide the API access key in the server’s environment variables. Thus, API access keys will not appear directly in the developers’ code. Access to environment variables may differ in different programming languages, but the intended use is generally the same.
- Configuration Files: Developers can use exported configuration files to hide API access keys. They can easily store the API key in these files and use the information in this file in their code, such as JSON, YAML, XML, or other configuration file formats.
- Server-Side Encoding: In architectures where backend and frontend applications are separate, keeping API access keys in backend applications is the most popular way to hide API access keys from the client. Developers can hide the key from the client by making API calls from the server side. Client requests go to the server, which makes the API call and then returns the result to the client.
- Third-Party Tools: Today, there are many third-party tools on the internet that offer the ability to manage API keys. Also, most of them offer the ability to manage application passwords. Thus, developers can securely hide, store, and manage their keys with these tools.
- Environments in API Testing Tools: Since testing tools are the tools where APIs are tested, they store API access keys for many APIs. For this reason, test teams can use environments in these tools and store sensitive data such as API access keys of secret type there. For example, in the Postman testing tool, storing an API access key as a secret type in the environment is as follows:
As a result, hiding the API key is a critical step to ensure the security and data integrity of online services. Securely storing the existing key easily prevents unauthorized access and reduces the risk of potential data breaches in the most effective way. Furthermore, keeping the key private provides businesses and developers with an effective way to monitor and limit API usage. This allows service providers to manage resources more effectively. By keeping API access keys private, both individual developers and businesses maintain service integrity, minimize vulnerabilities, and protect their reputations.
Q: What are the Methods to Hide the API (Application Programming Interface) Key?
A: There are many methods that developers and businesses can use to hide API access keys. The popular ways they can hide their API access keys are as follows:
- Environment Variables
- Configuration Files
- Server Side Encoding
- Third-Party Tools
Q: How Do I Manage API Keys?
A: To manage API access keys, you can usually create a new API key or edit an existing key in the service provider’s console. This process usually includes steps to generate a new key for the user and successfully verify existing keys.
Q: How Do I See API Key Usages in APILayer?
A: APILayer offers its users a very user-friendly API usage page. Users can subscribe to any API for free in APILayer. Then they can view API usages of all API products they subscribe to from APILayer’s ‘Subscriptions’ page.
Q: What is the API Key Generator?
A: API access key generator is a tool that allows users to generate a new key. Thus, using these tools, users can quickly and securely generate new API access keys.