API security: How to ensure secure API use in the enterprise

API security

All about API Security

Developing the APIs for any enterprise is basically nothing but ensuring the security of the API. It is all about ensuring the user get an access to their accounts through API. Without having to leave their data open and vulnerable. Previously APIs used to do it through basic authorization, by asking the users for their credentials that used to be then forwarded to API by software consuming it. However, this created a massive security risk. So, let’s see how to ensure API security.

Today, open authorisation which is a token system of authorisation is a common measure for ensuring API security .Unlike the basic authorisation, open authorisation doesn’t allow the API clients from accessing the information of the users. Instead it routes the users to a page on destination server on which they may enter their username and password and returns to API client then.

The biggest benefit of the token access is mainly that it can get deleted anytime due to different reasons- a misuse, a security breach or anything else. The access tokens may even be used for restricting permissions, leaving it to the users to decide what the applications should do with the account or the info.

Download API Security tools here

Download OAuth here

The principles of the API security are very strong enough, irrespective of the complexity or simplicity of the API. The developers should ensure that their API is capable of keeping the data including the username and the password of the users safe. This means developing a layer which separates their information as well as the client. The developers should not request for the login credentials through the public APIs since doing this may make the information of the users vulnerable. Since you’re here, that means that you’re interested in the internet’s world and the events that happen in the tech’s world. You can learn more about the internet security tips!

Challenge

The API is a recent technology which is using for integrating the applications through web technology. This approach is gaining a lot of popularity as it builds on the well understood techniques and also leverages some of the existing infrastructure. But, it would not be right to think that you can easily secure the APIs with the help of these same technologies and methods with which the browser centric web was secure. The APIs are different from the websites and they have a very unique risk portfolio.

Opportunity

One of the best practices for API-safety structure is separating the implementation of the API as well as the security of the API into different tiers. In this model, the API developer focuses completely on the domain of the application ensuring that every API they design properly. It also promotes integration between the apps. The API gateway offers the API security administrator a control over the access control, detection of threats, integrity, confidentiality and audit through each API that the enterprise publishes.

Benefits

The API gateway features policy security model which has been tailored easily for accommodating different types of security requirements for every API. It provides core policy which may be shared easily across different API sets for creating a consistent basic stance of security. Ability for specializing on the API by API basis for meeting particular needs of a specific application. It even integrates easily with the present identity systems as well as operational monitoring system.

3 main risk categories

It’s quite easy to be in confusion by a wide range of prospective risks against APIs. As each and every API is different, every instance carries different risks on the basis of its implementation. This seems to make the security of API almost impossible. Fortunately, most of the individual attacks against the APIs fall in one of the broad three categories i.e.:

Parameter attacks exploiting the data which sends to the API including the query parameters, URL, post content and the HTTP headers

Identify the attacks exploiting the loopholes in authentication, session tracking and authorization.

Man in the middle risks intercept legitimate transactions as well as exploit the unsigned and unencrypted data. They may also reveal confidential info, alter any transaction and also replay legitimate transaction. By understanding the broad categories, we can start designing an efficient mitigation strategy for being safe from the API attacks. An efficient API safety strategy should also be capable of guarding against the unforeseen future attacks.

Identify the risks

The hackers have been using stolen or forged credentials for exploiting the applications on the net. In this regard, the APIs just offer another avenue for applying the similar kind of attacks. But, the APIs even help in opening unique risk vectors leveraging identity. Various attacks exploit the commonly seen ill practices which originate in Web application development communities. While the web developers move in the development of API, they also bring along a lot of bad habits from conventional internet. Other attacks mostly result from a huge confusion regarding the different of APIs from the traditional web application development. A number of applications publishing the APIs need clients for using the API keys for accessing their functionality.

You can also download ASP.NET Web API Security tools from here.

You should treat the API key as non-authoritative mechanism of tracking for offering the most basic operation metrics. Just because it can’t be dependable to securely handle on the user like password. It’s quite easy to make a fake API key. This, its existence is not trustworthy. Unfortunately, a number of apps make the cavalier use of these API keys. This informality helps the hackers with an easy and new attack vector. In case the security model of the application assumes the API key to be unique to one user. However, if it is secure as well as authoritative of a specific client application. The server app is vulnerable to major misuse.

Recent attacks

Last January, we have noticed an example of insecure API. When a flaw in the Nest thermostats came out. The flaw made the location info of the users exposed on the internet. The major cause of the breach was sensitive client data which was passing over the internet in plain text. Anyone having a view of the traffic on the network may have gotten unencrypted communication Nest easily.

Conclusion

So, it’s all about API security and this article is going to help you for sure. Visit the other cyber security tips!

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