What You Need To Know About API Security

What You Need To Know About API Security

Most software systems that communicate over a network use an API at some level. In fact, many applications base their underlying communication system entirely on APIs. This practice begs the question — Are APIs good or secure enough to serve the purpose?

Of course, whether or not you use APIs is only a small part of the big picture. After all, APIs only allow you to access functionality and interact with the other backend systems. What you need to consider is the fact that if you are not properly protected, your APIs can also threaten your application. They can do this by allowing communication between your backend systems and malicious sources. 

With the rise in demand for cloud-native applications, distributed systems, and even monoliths, API security is a concern for every API provider in the market. This is because when security shifts from infrastructure and enters the runtime phase, it is no longer an isolated issue. It is a part of your engineering that you must address.  

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the primary API security practices that you must follow. They will make your APIs secure and safe from external vulnerabilities.

How do authentication and authorization contribute to API security?

How do authentication and authorization contribute to API security?

Enterprise APIs that facilitate the business and computation needs of a range of different clients must have a basic API security mechanism in place. That mechanism is authentication. Authentication ensures that only your onboarded customers or users can access your APIs for their genuine requirements. 

The authorization mechanism occurs one step ahead of authentication. Authorization is a more granular permission state and access level. It filters a certain subset from the authenticated users you allow to access a particular resource in your system. 

These two are the building blocks of any enterprise or even third-party APIs and contribute directly towards API security and safety. 

What is the role of rate-limiting in the prevention of brute-force attacks?

What is the role of rate-limiting in the prevention of brute-force attacks?

Any service, especially third-party APIs, limits computation in line with hardware and infrastructure capabilities. This is important. Rate limiting not only allows you to identify and protect your system from exhausting its computational power, it also saves your system from malicious brute-force attacks. 

Even if malicious sources somehow intervene in your API systems, your rate-limiting policies act as a solid layer to ensure your API security. This stops the external intervention from doing you greater harm. 

For instance, screenshotlayer by apilayer has a rate-limiting policy of 30 requests per minute for basic users. This prevents external interventions from exploiting your system resources. 

Why is payload validation an extremely important part of API security?

Why is payload validation an extremely important part of API security?

An API request payload should never bring incorrect or inappropriate data into your system. it is something to avoid at all costs. Inappropriate data could cause you vulnerabilities at runtime, get saved to your database, or worse, affect one of your schedulers or cronjobs. For this reason, you must ensure your API security and validate all data sent as part of the API request. 

Quality enterprise systems always have appropriate models and DTOs against the API request body. This ensures that only the relevant information gets accepted inside your service methods. More importantly, any additional information gets neglected in the DTO. Finally, you need proper model validations in place so that only the data that passes your own validation gets through. 

How can we leverage OAuth for secure data access and API security?

How can we leverage OAuth for secure data access and API security?

OAuth 2.0 is a popular and trusted service. Organizations industry-wide recognize it. OAuth 2.0 allows systems to communicate and access data from other systems on your behalf. As a result, it has completely revolutionized data access protocols. Now, developers no longer need to worry about additional protocol protection and API security when accessing secondary systems. They can just outsource the responsibility to efficient and safe OAuth protocols. 

Can we prevent excessive data exposure that violates API security?

Can we prevent excessive data exposure that violates API security?

Minimizing return responses is the simplest way to prevent excessive data exposure and ensure your API security. You achieve this by allowing your client just enough concise information for their computation and use cases. 

In addition to minimizing return responses, API design must prevent excessive data exposure. To achieve this, follow, adopt, and maintain OpenAPI or RAML standards. These not only ensure consistency but contribute to API security.

As you can see, there are quite a few modern technological concepts that you can apply to make your API security robust and trustworthy. Keep in mind that data protection and security are always a primary concern. Everything else comes second when your users’ private data or your company’s confidential data is at stake. 

apilayer is an initiative that understands and believes in simplified API design and development. apilayer embraces best practices not only within its own APIs — it also champions API security and protection practices. In addition to extraordinary domain-driven solutions, apilayer offers you a level of API security that makes it attractive to premium enterprises in many industries.

Head over to apilayer and get inspired by APIs under its umbrella to make your API security robust and trustworthy.