4 min read
Updated: Sep 11, 2022

Technology is constantly evolving and never ends. With the increase in the use of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), which enable applications to communicate and work together, 95% of organizations have experienced an API security incident in the past 12 months. Clearly, with the growth of APIs and increased API traffic, the attack surface has increased, and there are insufficient application security techniques to prevent API breaches.

Having comprehensive systems determine excellent security; while organizations can claim to have “aspects of API security,” this, in turn, means no security at all as the security of your organization’s APIs should be as a whole and not individually. To properly ensure API security, organizational security teams need to understand and analyze top misconceptions and attacks the API is susceptible to.

To help prioritize your organization’s API security, here are the top 5 API security myths debunked and the real story behind them;

Myth #1: API Security Is Simply A Feature

Some vendors in the API ecosystem portray API security as simply a feature rather than a technology. APIs are not just connectivity software; they are pipelines to your most vital data and services. Therefore, API security is a process that should be prioritized from the ideation and development stage to its full deployment in runtime. Security vendors or API management vendors talk about their products having API security features; this is akin to reducing APIs to settings or having aspects of a firewall or antivirus. API security is a technology comprising five critical pillars essential to running an effective application interface. These pillars are Interface, Consumption, Business, Access, and Lifecycle. Safety features of an API product only cover the access pillar; therefore, diminishing API security as a feature is erroneous.

Myth #2: Software-Based API Solutions Are More Secure

Relying on purely software-based security solutions is risky and opens your organization to vulnerabilities and attacks. Threat actors can inject malicious code into your software-based API solution and exploit vulnerabilities in the operating system running on the solution. Products permitting third-party code to run on your system can compromise it; thus, security solutions based on products embedded with locked-down operating systems disallowing third-party coding are encouraged to prevent vulnerability exploits.

Myth #3: API Gateways Provide a Sufficient Level of Security

APIs can access and read your data even through third-party applications; therefore, API security is a critical priority.  Standard API gateways are not designed to act as security buffers and are an easy entry point for attackers. API gateways are not built as cybersecurity technology but as integration platforms.  API security platforms, on the other hand, are specifically designed to prevent API attacks. Organizations should use API security as a security solution to complement API gateways. 

Myth #4: Authentication ensures API Security

Identity and access control, authentication, and authorization are all crucial elements to securing an organization’s data and services. However, they are not enough to defend APIs against attack. In fact, more than 90% of API attacks come from authenticated users. So, organizations should deploy these essential security techniques but should not equate them to having protected the APIs fueling today’s digital world. 

Myth #5: API Security Is Simple

Security complacency opens an organization to attacks. While the underlying concept of an API might be simple, API security itself is not simple. APIs function as an interface to connect applications and allow communications between multiple applications. But this vital form of communication makes APIs an attractive target for bad actors, especially since the security tooling already deployed today – including API gateways and WAFs – cannot detect API detects. Conclusion

API security remains a complex issue. Besides the above myths, other API security myths center around the applicability of zero trust architecture, native security capabilities in cloud offerings, workload protection technologies, Identity and Access Management (IAM), API gateways, and Web Application Firewalls (WAF). Shift-left solutions can be implemented to increase security awareness and include some security processes in the API design and development stages. Debunking these myths emphasizes that traditional security approaches are insufficient to secure APIs. A comprehensive API security strategy with dedicated security tools should be implemented to mitigate the growing threat of attacks in the API ecosystem.




Mosopefoluwa is a certified Cybersecurity Analyst and Technical writer. She has experience working as a Security Operations Center (SOC) Analyst with a history of creating relevant cybersecurity content for organizations and spreading security awareness, she is also a regular writer at Bora.

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