What is API Security & Why is it Important?

What Is an API?

APIs are everywhere you look. They are vulnerable to malicious attacks. As a result, there are startups and large security companies creating products to keep APIs secure.

API is short for Application Programming Interface. It is intermediary software that makes it possible for two applications to communicate with each other. For example, if you use Facebook and send an instant message or access a weather app on your mobile device, you are using an API.

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Consider the illustration of when you are at your favorite restaurant. You see all of your options on the menu and know the menu option you want to select. You need the kitchen staff to prepare the food for you. The API serves as the intermediary. It is like the server who takes your request to the kitchen and then delivers the food back to you.

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Why All the Hype About API Security ?

API security is important because more businesses are relying on APIs to get things done. Larger enterprises are shying away from creating massive, monolithic apps that must be updated every year or every six months. Instead, they take these large legacy applications and break them down into small, independently functioning components. Using APIs, these smaller applications and components can work together to create the same functions you would get with a large monolithic application.

What Type of API Is Most Popular?

Representational State Transfer API and Simple Object Access Protocol API are two of the more popular standards. Of the two, Simple Object Access Protocol is sometimes preferred. Although this protocol is a little older, there is still some context within the protocol, such as support for WS security, built-in redundancy for messaging, and other features, that make it attractive to users.

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Representational State Transfer API offers greater flexibility. In some cases, it performs better due in part to the fact that it can use JSON. Thanks to its flexibility, Representational State Transfer API is the more popular of the two protocols.

Why Is API Security Important?

Large enterprises are using APIs to transfer data and connect services. If an API is hacked or broken, it can expose sensitive financial, medical, and personal data. This is why securing APIs is important.

According to one of the world’s largest enterprise software providers Micro Focus, “API security is important because businesses use APIs to connect services and to transfer data, and so a hacked API can lead to a data breach.” APIs open up opportunities to abuse and breach backend systems. For example, if an API is poorly secured or not secured at all, several attacks can occur. A DDoS attack can leave an endpoint unavailable. If it is available, its service is degraded to the point where it is unusable. 

Additionally, an API that serves not adequately secure data can have its data intercepted, stolen, and misused by aggregators or competitors. If an API is not secured correctly that is used for purchasing, it becomes vulnerable to inventory denial attacks.

The value of APIs in modern technology and business cannot be understated. Their value will continue to grow as enterprises create apps designed to interact with other applications. This will only increase the need to make sure that APIs are secure.

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