With online security incidents increasing at an alarming rate, it is important for businesses to build secure networks that prevent external attacks. APIs are integral to business strategies in a large number of industries and the rise of IoT has made APIs more important than ever. Private APIs are growing in number and are possibly on par with private APIs.

Even though we receive news of one company or the other being hacked nearly every other day, good API practices are not very common. Let’s take a closer look at how to develop good API security.

Authentication and Authorization

It is important to authenticate all web servers before even a single bit of data is transferred to its. You need to have good authentication and authorization practices to ensure you are not exposed to outsider attacks. Web servers are usually secured using passwords, but you can take it a step further by using hardware authentication keys, software certificates or even biometric logins.

Access tokens are commonly used when accessing APIs, and you should have token support active without fail. Each time someone wants to access the API, a new token request is generated. Once the user is authorized, the token key is released which can then be used for API access.

Precautions

Not all vulnerabilities can be prevented across all APIs. Each API is unique, which makes taking security precautions extremely important. Always prepare for the worst threats. When it comes to vulnerabilities, there are too many types to account for, and it is important to categorize them into groups and take precautionary measures for each.

  •  Network / OS / Driver vulnerabilities.
  • Application vulnerabilities.
  • API component vulnerabilities.

Quotas and Throttling

If your business takes advantage of an API that is used by a web client or a mobile app, it is important to have a limited quota for your API usage. If any abnormal usage is detected, your API should be able to redirect data to backup APIs to prevent DDoS attacks.

Sniffers

You can take advantage of sniffers to identify any security flaws in your API. The best way to do it is to locate any security issues in your mobile or web app. Sniffers analyze call home traffic form your app and inform you of any irregularities. You do not want any personally identifiable information to be leaked out due to a security flaw.

Security Testing

There are professional software available that helps you security test your APIs. Custom scans can be created to identify any critical security flaws. APIs are not necessarily immune to even the most common of attacks, and it’s important to ensure regular tests are conducted. You can also schedule automated scans using software to ensure you are constantly aware of any potential security flaws in your API.

Conclusion

Outside of standard scans and other precautionary measures, it is important to stay updated on the latest happenings in online security. With new bugs and exploits being discovered almost regularly, being up to date with the latest API flaws can help you take proper security measures before it is too late.


About the Author

Abhijeet is Sr. Manager, Technology and Solutions at Asentech, responsible for managing technical teams, designing solutions, performing productivity enhancements, and assuring the technical excellence of teams across projects. Abhijeet has 18 years of experience in Solutioning and Delivering enterprise applications for various clients across multiple domains. He is a technology enthusiast with experience in Microsoft technologies like .Net, BizTalk, JavaScript frameworks, SharePoint, MS Project Server to name a few.
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