If your business is not vulnerable to API security risks, then you are not paying attention.

By Andy Grolnik, CEO, Graylog

As more modern organizations build out their digital footprint, application programming interface (API) security will become a critical element of safeguarding in an increasingly connected applications environment.

However, as these businesses connect to a growing number of applications and systems to facilitate the exchange of data, the greater the vulnerabilities and threats that put them at risk from bad actors. So, which businesses are most vulnerable to API security attacks?

First, what is the nature of the threat?

APIs are pivotal in simplifying complex processes, enabling data exchange, and fostering collaboration among diverse software systems. Adopting APIs is critical to many organizations’ digital transformation, allowing them to accelerate the speed of connections with their customers and enhancing the management and ownership of data, products, and services.

API builder platform Postman found that a significant 89% of respondents worldwide anticipate consistent or even increased support for APIs in the upcoming year. Notably, sectors such as open banking are projected to witness substantial growth, with API calls – a request sent from one program to another to access its functionality or data – predicted to surge from 102 billion in 2023 to a staggering 580 billion by 2027.

However, a growing number of APIs are introduced by companies into their ecosystem. That is a lot of additional third-party APIs for organizations to monitor, creating unprecedented opportunities for cybercriminals to access sensitive data through methods like distributed denial of service (DDoS), injection attacks, and authentication hijacking.

So, which businesses are most at risk?

Almost every business is at risk of cyber attacks, which is no different from API security risk. However, sectors that rely heavily on web applications and are undergoing digital transformation are most at risk. These include ecommerce, government, and public sector, fintech, financial services, healthcare, logistics, and critical infrastructure.

But what is most important to note is that any business relying on SaaS solutions is also at risk. Even though SaaS applications have unique security concerns, they are also web applications, which means SaaS products are susceptible to common vulnerabilities, too.

Why are SaaS-reliant companies at risk?

According to the latest data, organizations worldwide use over 100 SaaS applications on average. In the last few years, there has been an influx of point solutions to address single-use cases. SaaS sprawl within organizations also creates too large of a threat surface for teams to monitor and effectively detect risks from third-party solutions. This is essentially an issue affecting modern businesses.

How can SaaS-reliant companies prevent API security risks?

It is essential to take proactive measures to ensure the integrity of your SaaS-reliant operations.  While every organization is different, and no single plan will work for everyone. There are some best practices and security fundamentals that businesses can adopt to protect themselves better. Here’s how to prevent API security risks with three key actions:

  1. Step up your monitoring

The foundation of effective API security is comprehensive visibility into your infrastructure. Monitoring APIs in real-time is your first line of defense.

Begin with logging API requests and responses for the swift detection of anomalies and the ability to investigate past activity in the event of a breach.

Further, employ alerting and visualization tools. Real-time insights into API activities are essential. An intuitive dashboard and robust alerting mechanisms ensure timely responses to potential threats.

Lastly, take into account the power of historical data analysis. By studying past trends and patterns, your security team can proactively address potential vulnerabilities before they escalate.

  1. Implement strong authentication

Security begins with robust authentication mechanisms. Weak authentication protocols can create vulnerabilities that malicious actors exploit.

Consider implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) for user accounts, adding an extra layer of security and preventing unauthorized access.

Additionally, explore the integration of secure authentication protocols like OAuth into your systems. This ensures that only authorized users and systems gain access to your APIs.

  1. Strengthen post-perimeter threat detection and response

In today’s ever-evolving threat landscape, perimeter-based security measures must be revised. Cyberattacks can originate within your network, emphasizing the need for post-perimeter threat detection and response.

Start with behavioral analysis. Advanced tools can detect unusual activity patterns within your API traffic, allowing for the swift identification of deviations that may indicate an ongoing attack.

Think about employing automating incident response processes. When suspicious API activities are detected, predefined actions, such as isolating affected systems or notifying security personnel, can be triggered automatically. At a minimum, map alerts to specific, detailed instructions so the team knows exactly what to do when an incident is detected.

Lastly, integrate with threat intelligence feeds. Staying updated on the latest threats equips you with the knowledge to apply countermeasures that bolster your API security.

In today’s interconnected digital landscape, where the exchange of data and the integration of diverse software systems have become commonplace, API security is a concern that no business can afford to ignore as they expand their digital footprints.

By adopting these strategies, businesses can bolster their defenses and ensure the secure operation of their SaaS-dependent ventures. In this evolving landscape, vigilance and action will be the cornerstones of adequate API security.

Image by Freepik


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