APIs are becoming increasingly important as integration and interconnection become more prevalent. The rise of APIs has made API Security a hot topic in the tech world.
Without proper security in place, an API can be vulnerable to attack and attackers will find ways to exploit the vulnerabilities. API security cannot be neglected. During any API development project, security should be considered from the very beginning and built into each step of the process to ensure your API is protected.
In this article you will learn about the following API security best practices:
- Identify API Vulnerabilities and Associated Risks
- Enforce Strong Authentication and Authorization
- Encrypt Your Data
- Eliminate Confidential Information
- Use HTTPS/TLS for REST APIs
- Apply Quotas and Throttling
Identify API Vulnerabilities and Associated Risks:
Ignoring API vulnerabilities and risks is unsafe. Many API vulnerabilities and errors can be detected early on, making fixing them simple and quick.
Discover which parts of your API are vulnerable to known threats with thorough API security testing. Identify all the data and systems that get affected if a vulnerability is exploited and create an appropriate recovery plan to reduce the risks to an acceptable level. Assess the API endpoints before any code changes to make sure any data handling requirements and security are not compromised.
Enforce Strong Authentication and Authorization:
Though authentication and authorization serve different functions, when combined, these two API best practices serve as a powerful tool for API security. Authentication is required for securely verifying the API user, while authorization is concerned with what data they have access to. API authentication allows to restrict or remove users who abuse the API. API authorization usually starts after the identity is confirmed through authentication and verifies if users or applications have permission to access the API.
Authentication and authorization of APIs serve the following purposes:
- To authenticate calls to the API to legitimate users only
- To track the requesters
- Tracking API usage
- Enabling different levels of permissions for different users
- Blocking the requester who exceeds the rate limit
Encrypt Your Data:
A key element of security protocol is encryption. In order to protect data, it should be encrypted using a reliable technique, such as Transport Layer Security. The developers must ensure that the encryption architecture is designed to ensure that only authorized users can modify and decrypt the data.
Eliminate Confidential Information
APIs must be stripped of any information that shouldn’t be made public before they are released. A developer might forget to remove sensitive information such as passwords and keys before making the API public. In this way, attackers can access sensitive data to gain access to the API or the application and change it without the API user’s knowledge.
Use HTTPS/TLS for REST APIs
The Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol offers a secured way to transfer encrypted data between web browsers and servers. Apart from other forms of information, HTTPS also helps to protect authentication credentials in transit. HTTPS is one of the most critical practises for ensuring integrity, confidentiality, and authenticity in APIs. Additionally, security teams should consider using mutually authenticated client-side certificates that provide extra protection for sensitive data and services. In order to build a secure REST API, developers should avoid redirecting HTTP to HTTPS, which may compromise API client security. Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) and JSONP requests should also be diverted due to their vulnerabilities for cross-domain calls.
Apply Quotas and Throttling
Set quotas for how frequently your API can be accessed and track its usage over time. A higher volume of calls on an API could be a sign that it is being exploited. This could also be due to a programming error, such as an infinite loop of API calls. Enforce rules for throttling to safeguard your APIs from Denial-of-Service attacks and spikes.