2 min. read

Why Should APIs be Secured?

According to Gartner, “Organizations are choosing application programming interfaces (APIs) as the primary application architecture for developing business capabilities.” With the growth of microservices-based cloud-native apps, APIs have become the foundation of modern “cloud-first” businesses. In some industries, like healthcare and banking, APIs are regulatory imperatives. And in others, like retail, telecom, and media, they push speed-to-market with more personalized and timely consumer experiences.

APIs Offer Interoperability, Flexibility, and Speed

Basically, APIs are software codes that enable communication between two software programs. APIs build and integrate applications through definitions and protocols, tapping into software components or resources beyond the original code. They streamline software development and act as the connective tissue throughout digital technologies.

The Number One Attack Vector in Cloud-Native Security are APIs

Despite their flexibility and popularity, Gartner declared APIs the number one attack vector for enterprise web applications for 2022. In fact, Forbes reported that API security breaches saw a 286% increase quarter-over-quarter in 2022. By 2024, those abuses and breaches are expected to double.

Code injection or stolen authentication is used to gain unauthorized API access, shared data, and connected software and systems.

Securing APIs Requires Robust Capabilities

The goal of API security is to ensure that requests are valid, authorized, authentic, and processed when microservices are in heavy use. API security strategies and tools must thwart four main attack patterns, including abuse of functionality, exploitation, denials of service, or access violations

The following six capabilities provide a foundation for API security:

Provide visibility into activity: Visibility across all APIs is key to enforcing policies consistently.

Manage identity and access control: API security starts with controlling access to API resources. Knowing which users, devices, and data are being shared is crucial. This is particularly important when third parties are given access to internal data and systems.

Maintain a record in a service registry: Maintaining a record of all APIs makes reusing schemas and API designs a lot easier. The registry is also useful for securing APIs. This way DevOps or DevSecOps teams can assess risk levels and address them consistently.

Authenticate and authorize valid requests: Authentication and authorization needs are basic or require additional protections depending on the type of API.

API data maintenance: API data needs to be cleaned or validated, which helps thwart injection issues and request forgery attacks. Tools can monitor API data flows and track any errors and abnormalities for mitigation.

Securing APIs Supports Enterprise Digital Transformation

A proliferation of microservices means API security must be mature, consistent, and built-in from the first sprint. Maintaining robust API security also gives developers the confidence to maximize API value and innovate at the speed of business.

API Security is Possible with Panoptica

Cisco’s Emerging Technologies and Incubation (ET&I) team is paving the way with “DevOps-friendly” cloud-native security solutions that fundamentally simplify conventional offerings. Our Panoptica solution simplifies cloud-native application security, making it easy to embed into the software development lifecycle.  Panoptica protects the full application stack from code to runtime by scanning for security vulnerabilities in the cloud infrastructure, microservices (Containers or Serverless), the software bill of materials, and the interconnecting APIs. And best of all, it integrates with the tools that your application development and SecOps teams are already using. Try Panoptica for free!