3 Steps to Better Security in the API Economy

API Security

Whenever you’re working online with the Internet, security is also a top concern. Any mistakes or lapse of judgments can cost a lot of money and potentially even entire business, credibility and reputation.

But, as an online business owner, how can you put yourself at ease from these dangerous worries that could cripple you as a professional? One of the easiest and most popular solutions is using an API platform, as a collective, known as an API economy.

What is an API Economy?

API’s have taken over the internet, and more and more businesses and websites are opting for them as an easy way to protect themselves, their customers and therefore, their businesses.

One of the most commonly used solutions is used when it comes to mobile apps that need to quickly and safely pull their customer or server data from other online location. Likewise, web applications can use APIs to safely and effortless send and receive data and information from third-party websites. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why they are so popular.

In fact, recently over the last few years, APIs have become the most used form of sending and receive these data, especially when it comes to e-commerce stores.

The Risks of an API Economy

However, where personal and financial information is being sent across the internet, there’s always the risk of hackers and users with malicious intent. The threat has never been more real.

Back in December 2013, a group of researchers carried out server and security tests on the API that the popular mobile app SnapChat uses and found that the usernames and phone numbers of nearly 4.6 million accounts were vulnerable.

Additionally, the Internal Revenue Services application witnessed a breach of data which included the information of an estimated 220,000 taxpayers back in 2015, a service which used an API solution.

The problem is that APIs can be extremely helpful and beneficial to business, but they need to be secure and failsafe. With security in mind, here are three steps you can take to guarantee the security of your API, and therefore your business.

#1 – Authentication

API-economy

One of the most common problems that APIs face is when it comes to authentication and is the most likely aspect to be attacked. Traditionally, APIs used ‘API Keys’ to authenticate a server request which will then allow the transfer of data.

However, an Akana Survey found that as many as 20% of companies couldn’t describe how they limit access to these keys, meaning there’s a huge security threat when it comes to honestly-operating companies and users.

When using an API, or providing your own API to a business or company, you need to make sure that the API Keys are protected, and only a limited number of users have access to them, meaning hackers won’t be able to access your solution.

#2 – Restricting Your Rate

Although more companies are focusing on improving their authentication processes, the same Akana survey found that an incredible 45% of companies did not enforce any rate limits on their API solutions.

When it comes to rates and APIs, the rate handles how much traffic the API can deal with and how stable the platform will run and operate for a website. In laymen terms, if you have a rate of ten and ten users using your website, it will be maxed out.

However, if these rates aren’t enforced or limited, a hacker could send thousands of fake or automated traffic requests through your API, meaning it will overload, bug and crash. This can bring your entire website to its knees and leave you vulnerable to hacker attacks.

#3 – Consider Your Digital Architecture

When choosing an API to work for you, you’ll want to keep an eye out for one that uses the REST (Representational State Transfer) principles. These are the principles that are known as interface design which is far simpler than their web interface counterparts.

The REST concept only uses four commands to access, retrieve and send data across the internet. This means there are only four ways in which a hacker can possibly affect you but there are only four things for you to monitor, update and secure.

If you’re using a more complicated framework API, such as a SOAP solution, there are countless ways that a hacker could access and infect your service. In short, the simpler your API, the more effectively you can protect yourself and your business.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many ways in which you can protect your business and your website. Just because hackers are out there, it doesn’t mean that you should avoid using APIs, you simply need to be smart with the solutions you’re using, aware of the risks that could affect you and educated in how to protect yourself.

By Brenda Berg

Dr. Mike Lloyd

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