APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are extremely powerful tools, which can connect multiple types of software, and are key for custom software development implementations.
And whether you do your own in-house development, or use an outsourced software development partner, it’s absolutely critical to secure your APIs against intrusion, attack, and data loss.
There are three security risks associated with modern APIs – unauthorized changes, information leaks, and legitimate activity interference. All of these issues arise from the network. In this article, we’ll examine 3 best practices you can follow to lock down your APIs, and stay secure.
1. Multizone Networking Implementations
Multizone networking is the basis for all effective API security precautions. Essentially, you should be running all of your custom software, APIs, and other critical applications inside a secure zone, or “sandbox”.
Sandboxing allows you to maintain connectivity with your API, yet only expose a few service addresses. Any API that is not intended to be publicly accessible should be hosted within this secured zone.
Some different hosting architectures, such as Docker, offer secure zones by default. But they can be implemented on almost any networking architecture that is widely available today. If you can establish multizone networking for your API, security issues will be reduced dramatically.
2. Network Connection Control
Next, you need to be able to monitor who can access the API, as well as when and where they can have access. The best way to do this is by using network connection control.
Instead of using an API manager for access, you should use network policy management software to control API access. This has a number of benefits.
First, it helps cut down on “junk” requests. Only users who are authorized can send a message to the API – because if the source IP address is not recognized, it will be immediately discarded.
This is also very helpful for preventing Denial of Service attacks. In a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack, millions of junk requests are sent to APIs and webpages, with the intent of crippling them. However, network policy management software allows you to completely discard these requests – resulting in no system downtime or slowdown.
While this protection can be bypassed by dedicated individuals, it’s still the best way to safeguard your API against use by unauthorized persons.
You can also use network connection control to allow connections from computers outside of your security zone – making it helpful for managing out-of-zone use of APIs by remote workers or other individuals.
Want the best IT security advice you’ll ever hear in your life? Here it is – if it can be encrypted, it should be encrypted! There are very few exceptions to this rule – and APIs are not one of them.
If you implement message encryption for your API, all messages that are not encrypted will be immediately discarded – further preventing Denial of Service attacks and unauthorized use.
Usually, you will only have to encrypt the IP header to protect your APIs, and we recommend that the user of the API does this directly – not through the API manager.
You will also need to ensure that the API manager can access enough unencrypted data to apply all relevant access policies – otherwise you may create decryption delays.
Follow These Tips to Lock Down Your APIs!
Secure network zones, network access management, and encrypted messages are all powerful tools that can secure your APIs. So don’t put your custom software at risk – take these precautions today, and make sure your APIs are safe and secure.