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How to Make API Security an Integral Part of Your Application Security Strategy

How to Make API Security an Integral Part of Your Application Security Strategy

The farther your organization travels down the digital transformation path, the more critical API protection is to your overall security posture. Every day, your development teams are innovating; they rely more on microservices to save time and money as they automate business-to-business processes and provide a back-end for mobile applications. APIs are the cornerstone of your organization’s digital transformation process.

This trend will not be reversing anytime soon. A recent SlashData survey showed that by the end of 2020, nearly 90% of developers were using APIs. Why shouldn’t they? APIs simplify low-level software layers and enable developers to focus on the core functionality of their applications. APIs lower the barrier to entry for inexperienced developers, and at the same time increase efficiency for more experienced people, especially in cases where they would need to intervene and customize things in the low-level layers.

Unfortunately, cybercriminals have taken notice of this and are deliberately finding new attack vectors and exploits during this shift to an API economy. This creates the critical need for organizations to adopt new security measures that can better protect their APIs as a part of their overall application security posture.

API protection starts with a positive security model

Effective API security should leverage its strength in distributed denial of service (DDoS) protection as well as other security capabilities in order to protect APIs. Beyond this, organizations should employ a positive security model as a second layer of defense for API traffic that blocks any misuse of APIs by malicious users. The positive security model should be built automatically and use an organization’s OpenAPI specifications (sometimes known as Swagger specifications) to do it. This allows organizations to integrate API security into their (CI/CD) processes. Using this method, every time an API is updated it is secured automatically, leading to faster software release cycles.

A unified security approach for APIs

Your API security strategy should be part of a larger technology suite that simplifies security management with an integrated CDN, Load Balancer, and DDoS Protection for both website and API traffic. Security policies should span both websites and APIs, with a single analytics layer for unified visibility and contextual insights. Your strategy should afford immediate protection for your APIs against critical security attacks with out-of-the-box security policies. This should be accompanied by advanced capabilities that enable you to build customized policies in order to meet your specific requirements. Your positive security model, built from your own OpenAPI specifications, should remove the burden of specification validation on your developers and the load on your application in runtime. You should also be able to integrate security seamlessly into your API lifecycle management process via CI\CD tools or leading API management vendors. Integration allows every addition or change of an API by development teams to be automatically updated within your overall security strategy, preventing the usual security bottleneck in API deployment.

API security should be an essential part of your organization’s overall application security strategy, enabling you to both reduce risk and provide an optimal user experience. Your solution should safeguard applications on-premises and in the cloud by blocking critical API security attacks, providing a positive security model built from OpenAPI specifications, integrating security into API lifecycle management, and delivering a unified solution for website and API security.