What makes a reliable API Security provider?

API Security

With trillions of dollars’ worth of damage caused by cybercrime every year, it is vital for organizations to invest in cybersecurity. Cyberattacks come with high costs to business and the public alike. They can have huge financial costs as criminals hijack sensitive data and demand a ransom in return. If they get into bank accounts, they can also siphon off large sums of money.

But the impact of cybercrime goes beyond just financial setbacks. Customers are unlikely to trust an organization that cannot keep their data safe. In other words, reputations are at risk due to cybercrime. Moreover, for publicly listed companies, the share price can be affected. This not only the company in question but also investors in the stock.

The importance of API security

To counter the potential damage from cyberattacks, the cybersecurity industry has developed a whole host of solutions. Some of the crucial ones include SAST and DAST, which assess source code as it is under development and after it is in application respectively. There is also SCA that allows for scanning and remedying the vulnerabilities in third-party software.

But perhaps the most vital security solution offered today is for API security, where API is short for Application Programming Interface. Simply put, API allows various software’s and applications to interact with one another. Consider that you are a customer at an ecommerce store. In order to check out, you can make a payment through various options. These can be your credit or debit card or through a payment gateway like PayPal. To make this payment, the e-commerce store has to interact with either your bank’s app or the PayPal app. This interaction is carried out with the use of API.

Ecommerce usage has grown enormously in the past few years and is expected to do so even more so in the near future. According to the Boston Consulting Group, online sales are expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 9% up to 2027. And by that time, they would have captured 41% of global retail sales. Unsurprisingly then, it is estimated that some 80% of internet usage leans on API. This in turn implies that API’s importance is growing ever more for global business. It also underlines the pressing need for API security.

How API security works

Now that it has been established how vital API security is, we discuss how it is established. Broadly speaking, there can be a four-step process to ensure the highest safety for API. The steps involved in the process are as follows:

  1. Inventory check and discovery: At this first step, a full inventory of the API is considered. A scan of the API is undertaken to discover it fully, including shadow or zombie API. This allows in targeting and remedying those vulnerabilities that pose most business risk.
  2. Documentation scan: The API documentation is then scanned to see where there are any discrepancies. This step also reveals any APIs for which documentation is unavailable.
  3. Historical analysis: Next, the API change log is looked at. This helps getting a full historical picture of the changes to the API over time. This in turn imparts an understanding of where the risks were first encountered.
  4. Integration with other security tools: A security solutions provider can next integrate API security with other tools. These can be the likes of SAST and DAST. This integration can enable rectification of the source code and allow for more robust API security. 

Specifically, API security is enabled using two key solutions:

  • REST API: Representational State Transfer or REST API determines which data is safe for the API to engage with. To do so it works with aspects like secure sockets layer (SSL) and Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS), as examples. It is able to stop any attempts to either steal the data when the API is in execution or to damage it. 
  • SOAP API: Simple Object Access Protocol or SOAP is different from REST to the extent that it restricts access. It employs tokens that allow message transfer, or not, as the case may be.

The road ahead for API

Moving forward, it is clear that API security will become even more important. Our dependence on digital transactions is growing. And this is when the full potential of the internet has not even been realized. API provides the crucial link that will move digital commerce forward.

There are, luckily, solutions available to provide the maximum possible security. Components of API security like REST and SOAP allow for different ways of targeting potential attacks by resisting attack or providing no access. With sophisticated processes in place, historical data can be analyzed to assess where risks emerged. They also allow scanning through the entire API documentation. And finally, they allow integration with other security solutions. This creates robust all round security that can help businesses to function and grow without any hiccups. 

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