API Security - along with API Management - is one of the focus topics of APIIDA. When a company opens up its data and services to the internet and the cloud, measures to protect against attacks and unauthorized access are at the top of the list of issues to be addressed. Our API experts help companies find suitable answers and make the digital transformation secure. In this first part of our European Cybersecurity Month series, we lay the foundation for understanding why API Security is so important.
Simon Sinek's Golden Circle places the motivation - the "why" - at the center of any action. Only when it is clear to all participants why it makes sense to deal with a topic, it is worth thinking about the "how" and finally about the "what".
Once the "why" and the "how" have been clarified within a team, the "what" follows almost automatically. To achieve a goal, there are typically many decisions to be made. Not all problems and the associated decisions can be foreseen and thus planned for. The "what" is therefore subject to constant change, while the "why" and the "how" are mostly constant. Particularly in the environment of agile projects or potentially infinite activities - such as ensuring API Security - the Golden Circle therefore provides an opportunity to establish a consistent process model.
The connectivity via API has become a cornerstone for many businesses to allow automated retrieval and manipuation of business data. APIs are integrated in most modern processes, for example authenticating at a service by using Google Authentication, updating weather information on a mobile device or B2B processes that allow business to share and connect data from their respective sites. As the service offerings grow and the customer expectations adapt to increasing amounts of interaction and additional services around the core products of a company, APIs are the way to allow business to share certain data with their partners and customers but they also create connections inside their businesses. And with those connections a business accepts certain risks and potential attack vectors from the public web.
API Security introduces special devices and applications as a means to monitor and control the data streams into and out of the business and allows administrators to construct a management layer in front of their internal infrastructure to enforce these controls, for example in the form of API Gateways and surrounding applications. An API Gateway allows the creation and monitoring of APIs which mask the internal infrastructure and standardize the interaction of a consumer (partner or external developers) with the public API of the business. Additionally, integrated developer portals provide documentation for these APIs and also allow the monetization, access control and available resources which are enforced by the API gateway in form of policies that describe the requirements to interact with the available APIs.
API Security looks at these connections from a security perspective and asks important questions like "What are the risks and potential consequences of security breaches?" and "How can I open my business safely without exposing myself to potential attackers?". Educated administrators and security professionals can use best practices and standardized security schemes to monitor and control the data flows. This way, the risks to a business by opening digital connections can be understood and mitigated.