There are several myths and misconceptions about API security. These myths about securing APIs will destroy your business.
Why so? Because these myths widen your security gaps. This makes it easier for attackers to abuse APIs. And API attacks are costly. Of course you have to bear financial losses. But there are also other consequences:
- reputational damage
- customer attrition
- Loss of customer trust
- Difficulty acquiring new customers
- legal fees
- Massive fines and penalties for non-compliance
In this article, we debunk the top 5 myths about it Secure APIs
Better Secure APIs: Top 5 API Security Myths Demystified
Myth 1: API gateways, existing IAM tools, and WAFs are enough to secure APIs
Reality: These are not enough to secure your APIs. They are layers in API security. They must be part of a larger security solution.
API gateways monitor endpoints. They provide insight into API usage. They offer some level of access control and rate limiting features. They authorize and route API calls to the right backend services. But most API gateways are not designed for security. Developers use them for integration purposes.
We also have API security gateways. But they can only track and secure north-south traffic. The north-south traffic connects the front-end and the back-end. This traffic traverses the WAF. API Gateway is not effective in securing East-West API traffic. This traffic makes the connections between servers, containers, and services. These do not pass through the WAF.
Also, not all API endpoints are recognized. It cannot identify and classify different types of data. So it offers limited visibility. It’s a pretty one-dimensional way of securing your APIs.
Existing Identity and Access Management (IAM) tools help authorize and authenticate machine identities. WAF (Web Application Firewall) is a shield between API traffic and server/API. But these security tools don’t provide transparency, which is key to API security. They rely on signature-based detection techniques that APIs cannot effectively secure.
All three tools offer only low security barriers. They are unable to detect emerging types of malicious behavior. Attackers can easily bypass these defenses and launch API attacks. They should be part of a multi-layered, cohesive, API-specific security solution.
Myth 2: API security is simple
Reality: The underlying concept of APIs may be simple. However, API security is far more complex.
APIs connect two programs. However, this does not mean that the connected programs are automatically secure. By their very nature, APIs expose data and digital assets. Additionally, you may not have full visibility into all of your APIs. This leads to shadow APIs that attackers can exploit. This expands the API attack surface. Your API security will fall short if you don’t plan and execute it properly.
Simple API solutions are not effective in the agile digital landscape. You need advanced, updated API security solutions to prevent threats.
Myth 3: Developers will always bake security into APIs
Reality: Developers do not automatically ensure security by design.
More and more companies are moving towards a shift-left approach. It intends to find and fix vulnerabilities as early as possible in the development process. This helps accelerate the time to market of APIs. You can also avoid the additional costs of troubleshooting later.
Adopting this approach does not guarantee inherently secure APIs. Developers can’t build security into every API by default. There are mutliple reasons for this:
- The static and dynamic testing tools available to you are not API specific. As a result, API-specific risks are not effectively detected.
- Even automated tools cannot find all vulnerabilities.
- Developers are unaware of the latest best practices.
- They don’t use AI or behavioral analysis to detect logical and unknown errors.
Want to build secure-by-design APIs?
You need to invest in the best API security solutions. And you need to integrate them as early as possible in the development process. Additionally, you need to constantly educate your developers on the latest best practices.
Myth 4: Cloud providers secure APIs by default
Reality: Not always! And securing APIs is a shared responsibility.
Cloud providers offer a certain level of security. For example, you can provide API gateways, API management tools, and so on. However, these tools don’t offer the level of protection you need.
Remember that they only need to back up the cloud. You are responsible for the data and apps you run in the cloud. When using cloud services, you need to invest in multi-layered solutions to secure your APIs.
Myth 5: Zero trust is enough to secure APIs
Reality: Solely focusing on Zero Trust sets you up for failure
Most companies focus solely on Zero Trust policies to secure APIs. This does not significantly improve API security. Why? By their very nature, APIs need access to function properly. But Zero Trust architectures restrict access. Attackers can also hijack authenticated sessions.
Avoid these flawed approaches to your API security. As attackers expand their capabilities, your security strategy must expand in scope.
Single tools and traditional approaches do not effectively secure APIs. You need API-focused, multi-layered, fully managed solutions such as Indusface API protection.