API Security: 10 Evolving Trends You Must Stay Informed About

API Security Trends

API Security: 10 Evolving Trends You Must Stay Informed About

API Security Trends

Ali Akthar

Middleware Practice Lead

January 31, 2024

As technology continues to grow unprecedentedly, so does the complexity of API security. With the proliferation of APIs in modern applications and services, organizations will need to better understand their API environments and the risks APIs represent to business operations. While methods such as port scanning to identify network vulnerabilities are not likely to go away, we expect the number of targeted application-level attacks to rise in the following year.

Why API Security is Necessary

Malicious activities/actions often involve opening accounts or using applications to infiltrate systems and disrupt app behavior. Hackers know that most organizations have advanced solutions for network-level security, leaving APIs exposed and vulnerable to attacks.

Traditional defense mechanisms are no longer sufficient to safeguard APIs as hackers become more sophisticated in gaining authorized user access. Organizations must prioritize inside-the-perimeter defenses that continuously monitor API exposure, API traffic, Zombie/Shadow APIs, versions, and code to detect suspicious threats and user behavior.

The evolving landscape of API security trends is outlined below to achieve this. Let’s break down each trend:

Zero Trust Architecture for APIs:

Zero Trust is a security concept that provides a complete identity verification process against each individual and device trying to access use cases on a private network, including APIs. This approach will likely gain prominence in API security to minimize the risk of unauthorized access.

Learn how to expand zero trust security to the cloud with the help of our experts.

Increased Focus on API Governance:

API governance involves implementing policies and procedures to ensure that APIs always follow security and compliance standards. With the growing number of APIs, organizations will likely invest more in robust API governance frameworks.

APIs from Multiple Sources:

APIs are crucial for connecting different components of the software supply chain. However, this increased connectivity also widens the attack surface, as highlighted in the OWASP API Security Top 10. Security in API development and usage is paramount, as organizations need to be vigilant against potential threats and attacks. While REST remains the dominant API standard, newer protocols like GraphQL and AsyncAPI are gaining popularity, posing challenges for security. Managing different standards requires adaptability and a nuanced approach to security measures that can cater to diverse API technologies.

Organizations are moving away from bundled solutions (e.g., API Management systems and gateways) in favor of more specialized and customized solutions. This trend suggests more flexibility and specific functionalities, allowing organizations to tailor their API solutions to meet unique requirements.

API Technology Sprawl:

The rapid evolution of API technologies like Kubernetes and Function-as-a-Service (FaaS) creates challenges in terms of governance and security. Continuous technological evolution requires organizations to adapt quickly and demands robust governance and security measures to keep pace.

API Gateway Evolution:

The role of traditional API gateways is changing, with organizations integrating lightweight gateways closer to their APIs. Placing gateways closer to APIs suggests a move towards more distributed and efficient API management, potentially improving performance and responsiveness.

Advanced API Security:

API security is evolving beyond traditional gateway-level protection. Organizations are adopting various security solutions, from developer-focused tools to machine learning solutions addressing emerging threats. As the threat mechanism becomes more sophisticated, organizations need a multi-layered security approach that involves developers and utilizes advanced technologies to identify and mitigate potential risks.

API Security Keys High Vulnerability:

API security key leaves the API vulnerable to attack. The limitations and vulnerabilities associated with API keys argue in favor of using tokens, explicitly emphasizing the benefits of fine-grained access control that tokens offer.

Long-lived API Keys:

The API keys are often long-lived and may lack expiration, making them vulnerable if leaked.
In a key leak, remediation involves revoking the compromised keys and generating new ones. This process can be cumbersome and requires reconfiguration on the client side.

Lack of Fine-Grained Access Control:

API keys provide broad access; if a user has access to a key, they essentially have access to everything in the API. Therefore, tokens with embedded metadata and claims offer a solution by allowing for fine-grained access control. Tokens, typically issued using protocols like OAuth2, can limit the scope to specific API subsections and operations.

Token Complexity and Investment:

The fundamental reason for not universally adopting tokens is the significant investment required during the design and development phase. API teams under time constraints may opt for more straightforward key-based solutions instead of the more complex token-based approach.

Tokens provide a more granular level of access control, limiting the actions and data a user can interact with. Robust token issuance protocols like OAuth2 add resilience to the distribution and use of tokens, enhancing overall security.

When facing time constraints, API teams might prioritize simplicity over a more robust but potentially complex security solution. API keys are convenient and easy to implement, but they come with security challenges, especially regarding broad access control and the handling of key leaks. On the other hand, Tokens offer finer control but require more upfront investment. The choice between keys and tokens often depends on factors such as development timelines, resource availability, and the specific security requirements of the API. Striking a balance between simplicity and security is crucial in such decisions.

Introducing Secura API:

Royal Cyber offers a unique product, Secura API, which overcomes all threats that APIs and Organizations face while exposing APIs to apps, developers, and external sources. Secura API will do the API vulnerability scanning against all the exposable threats and identify how to fix such issues. For more information about our products and services, please email us at [email protected] or visit www.royalcyber.com.


Harini Krishnamurthy

Protect Against API Security Threats with Secura API

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