10 Best Practices For API Security That You Must Know

10 Best practices for API security that you must know

API plays an important role in software and application development by providing many benefits to the table. Enterprise developers are now relying heavily on APIs to support the delivery of products and services. Also, APIs allow developers to integrate functionality from externally provided services rather than having to build those functions themselves. Programmable Web has a directory listing about 15000 APIs for web apps and mobile apps. 

API attacks will rise considerably for enterprise application data breaches each year. So no wonder several IT decision-makers today are scratching their heads about API security. Enterprises are breaking software down into smaller parts and many apps are being connected to new mobile front ends through APIs.  Rise of APIs also comes with security issues, so programmers should understand the risk to secure customer and corporate data. Here we came with some best practices for API security. Let us discuss which are those.

Know the details of API management at- All About API Management That You Should Know

Best Practices For API Security-

API Security

1. Focus On Authorization And Authentication On The Front End-

APIs don’t live alone. Developers bind these elements into parts of software. Developers should take multi-prolonged approach to secure code properly and it starts with solid authentication. Enterprises are preferring multistep authentication with biometric solutions like fingerprints. When the person is authenticated, they have to pass an authorization check and get access to different types of information. For example, some employee need  access to payroll data, but everybody want to read the company president’s blog. Also, company needs to ensure that corporate data is safe. Businesses encrypt data from inception to deletion. Formerly, data was encrypted while moving from place to place on network. Even though a wrong person get in, due to encryption they cannot see anything.

2. Keep Detailed And Protected Logs Of All Access-

Many security issues are discovered days or weeks after they occurred. Examine and which data was affected, what systems were compromised, what steps should be taken to remediate the circumstance relies upon having useful logs of access, security alerts and user activity. The most mishandled security vulnerability these cruel hackers depend upon is an inadequacy of logging and monitoring to put at risk information without raising an alarm. When these breaches are detected, it’s too late. In such cases, hackers will mostly cover their actions to execute multi-stage attacks. If logging and monitoring are performed with useless integration with incident response, it allows hackers to attack system. 

Best practice is to establish data rentention policy. Enable your API access actions to register and record improrant metrics and events. Save logs in searchable and easily indexable formats. It is good to keep detailed and protected logs of all access trials. Also, it is good practice to configure alerts to secure a timely incident acknowledgement for any activity.

3. Create An Inventory And Document All API Hosts And APIs-

Detailed and updated documentation is necessary for APIs because they can expose more endpoints than conventional web applications. Deployed API versions record can help to reduce general IT security threats like deprecated API versions and risky debug endpoints. In a comparison with UI based web apps, a web API exposes endpoints that are at less risk, especially for decentralized deployments spread across various services or microservices. 

Outdated asset inventories and documentation can lead to skipped endpoints. Inappropriate control of versioning and deployment also leaves retired API versions running beside current versions. It is good practice to create an inventory and document all API hosts and APIs. Prioritize a documentation in daily process to it’s always updated. 

4. API Firewalling-

For  some of the cases, building a wall can solve immigration problems. Your API security should eb organized into two layers-

  • First layer is i DMZ, with API firewall to execute basic security mechanisms such as checking message size, SQL injection and any security based on the HTTP layers, blocking hackers at early stage. Then forward the message to second layer.
  • The second layer is in LAN with advanced security mechanisms on data. 

5. Don’t Expose More Data Than Necessary-

Some APIs shows too much information, regardless of whether it’s the volume of extraneous data that is returned through API or data that uncovers a lot about API endpoint. Generally it happens when an API leaves the data filtering task to the user interface rather than endpoint. Make sure that APIs only return necessary information to fulfill their function. Also,  authorize data access controls at the API level, monitor data and blur if the responsible contains confidential data. 

6. OAuth & OpenID Connect-

OAuth is a mechanism that prevents you from remembering many passwords. Rather than creating account on eahc website, you can connect through another provider’s credentials. For APIs, it works similar, the API provider depends on a third-party server to manage authorizations. The user doesn’t give their credentials but instead gives a token provided by third-party server. This protects the user as they don’t show their credentials and API provider doesn’t need to care about protecting authorization data, as it just receive tokens. Generally OAuth is used delegation protocol to convey authorizations. To secure your APIs and add authentication, you can add identity layer above it, this is Open Id Connect standard, extending OAuth 2.0 with ID tokens. 

7. System Protection With Throttling And Quotas-

You should restrict access to your system to a limited number of messages per second, to protect your backend system bandwidth according to server’s capacity. Restrict access by API and by user to ensure that nobody can abuse the system. Restricting limits and quotas is important to prevent attacks from different sources with requests(DDOS- Distributed Denial of Service Attack).

8. Budget Time For Security Testing-

Security testing need time and money, and companies have to make investments. New functionality drives development, about 5% to 10% of budget should be reserved for security testing. Use of API is increasing and enabling businesses to build more dynamic apps. However, as they exploit these capabilities, organizations should know about the potential security issues and fix them.

9. Use An API Gateway-

API gateway act as the major point of enforcement for API traffic. A good gateway allows organizations to authenticate traffic, control and analyze how APIs are used.

10. Take A Look At API Security Tools And Gateways-

New tools are being developed from many sources, ranging from start-ups to established vendors. Those tools include items like prebuilt security scans that check code and bugs, like parsing and improper data handling issues.

Final Words-

These are some of the necessary best practices for API security. If you are also using APIs, then you must know these API security best practices. If you want to integrate services into software or create a software for your customers, feel free to connect with us. We will be happy to help you.

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