Addressing API Vulnerabilities in 2022: Part I
APIs are critical in enabling organizations to conduct business. They fuel growth and innovation, helping companies compete more effectively in the digital era. They are a key corporate asset that, when handled correctly, can become a competitive advantage. If handled poorly, they can crush an organization's hard-earned reputation.
With the pressure to embrace modern technology, adopt new tools and practices, and gain the business and competitive advantages that come from APIs, it is understandable that moving quickly may have incurred some security missteps.
The process of API remediation, for many organizations, currently sits as one of these missteps.
API Remediation is an ongoing security process that is rapidly growing in importance, elevating from a technical problem to a business-critical one. But it's not quite being addressed the way it should be.
Currently, organizations are choosing to focus largely on the adoption of technology to help identify, monitor, and report on API attacks and vulnerabilities.
While this technology is essential, it is not all encompassing, and should not be considered a complete solution surrounding API Remediation.
Technology can be excellent at identifying vulnerabilities within APIs, but how the vulnerability is dealt with from the point of identification is typically an ad-hoc approach that differs from organization to organization.
Often, this process is complicated and ineffective, leaving unresolved vulnerabilities and the door still open to attacks. (Why Ad-Hoc Approaches to API Remediation Just Won't Cut It)
Given the value and dependency that APIs now hold, and given the rising threat toward APIs, it's clear that applying an ad-hoc approach to remediating API vulnerabilities is a growing security risk to the organization.
Upfront thought and strategic planning will go a long way to preserve the security around APIs on which businesses, and their customers, depend.
This blog series will help demystify modern API remediation by breaking down critical threats from an external and internal perspective, discussing how to counter these threats, and demonstrating how enterprises can deliver faster, more reliable remediation efforts to reduce overall API risk in 2022.
PART 1: EXTERNAL THREAT
According to Gartner, by 2022, APIs will become the most frequent attack vector, causing data breaches for enterprise web applications. The shift to the API as a prime target has occurred for a several reasons that can be categorized into either external or internal threats. In this blog, we'll take a closer look at some of the external ones, including:
Rising API Dependency
The movement from waterfall development practices to Agile methods and the shift from large, monolithic applications to a microservices architecture has created a massive increase in the production of APIs over the last few years.
According to surveys conducted by RapidAPI, 58% of executives have indicated that participating in the API economy was a top priority for their organization.
This movement is designed to help improve competitiveness, increase potential profits, and help organizations adapt to ever-changing regulatory requirements.
Given these new realities, it is not uncommon for B2B or B2C applications to become reliant on a complex web of APIs that can number in the 1,000s.
The advent of hybrid-cloud environments has only increased this complexity. With the number of new APIs growing daily, the attack surface for hackers continues to grow.
Applications Becoming More Distributed
The movement to the cloud and the growth of distributed, interconnected applications have exploded over the last few years. This expansion is likely to continue as investment in this space continues to grow just as quickly.
This growth has a negative side effect. It has created a steep increase in complexity, making identifying, cataloging, and testing the API ecosystem increasingly difficult. This complexity negatively impacts transparency.
As the size and complexity of the environment grows, so does the difficult job of ensuring the consistent development and deployment of each new API.
It may be easier for a developer to simply create a new API versus leverage an existing one they have to go and hunt for.
Duplicate APIs doubles the attack surface for hackers and create even more complexity.
Intrusion Detection Becoming Mainstream
Network intrusion systems, cyber monitoring systems, and employee training have increasingly effectively prevented cybersecurity breaches.
Monitoring tools are now more intelligent, utilizing emerging technology to better identify and alert to malicious activity, and organizations are also doing a better job at educating employees on phishing techniques and other related scams.
Additionally, the improvement of authentication methods such as two-factor, multifactor, One Time Password (OTP), and biometric methods has created a series of challenges for hackers that are forcing them to seek out loopholes and turn to alternate methods.
As such, internal, poorly designed APIs begin to look a better target.
Coming Soon: Addressing API Vulnerabilities in 2022: Part II
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