Why your API gateway is not sufficient for API security?

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The emergence of cloud computing architectures has caused companies to rethink the way applications are scaled. Impulses have been given to enterprises to move away from deploying complete applications via infrastructures such as virtual machines and instead adopt a microservices approach by creating APIs composed of several interoperable services.

By 2023, more than 50% of B2B transactions will be conducted through real-time APIs compared to traditional means. – Gartner

The API market is growing, and so is the threat landscape. Although API Gateways play a vital role in API management and delivery, they provide a variety of basic functionality for API Security. It can be tempting to adhere only to the API Gateway to meet security objectives. However, managing emerging API risks requires various sophisticated new techniques outside the scope of conventional API gateways.

First, let’s understand the handshake between API and API Gateway.

What is an API?

API, the acronym for Application Programming Interface, is a way for computer programs to interact with each other by acting as an intermediary similar to a traffic control system in busy cities that ensures that transit between different areas is seamless.

What is an API Gateway?

In a typical microservices architecture, an API gateway is a statement and protocol management tool that manages client requests and decides which microservices to route them to for a response.

Think of it as a kind of traffic cop or switchboard, making sure requests get delivered to the right places so they can be dealt with properly before getting a response.

And with microservices, the need for efficient API gateways must be there. Major cloud providers have realized that API gateways can also be a convenient way for businesses to set up and operate their cloud services.

What does API security involve?

API security requires the implementation of policies and procedures that can help mitigate security threats to their API. This includes ways to prevent explicit and implicit management failures, as well as code failures.

To ensure API security, a plan should be in place, which should contain auditing standards, change control systems, management processes, access control measures, etc.

Although API gateways provide developers with a more visible layer of security for application programming interface (API) calls, there is still room for improvement. If a gateway fails to scale with its resources, vulnerability management becomes an incredible challenge.

According Gartnerby 2022, API abuse will move from an infrequent to a more frequent attack vector, leading to data breaches for enterprise web applications.

But why isn’t API Gateway security enough?

Let’s not mix API gateways with API security because the former, with its access control function, is often part of API security. Developers make sure apps work properly and do what they’re designed to do, but attackers are the ones who find clever ways to weaponize apps. As the Top 10 OWASP APIs The security brief concludes that API security threats include many of the vulnerabilities that accompany traditional web application attacks.

Since services that support APIs are now worth millions of dollars, hackers will try to find new ways to obtain and break into insecure keys. The three key factors could be:

  • Sophisticated attacks using a valid API token can successfully target application business logic and data layer vulnerabilities.
  • Cyberattacks that take advantage of a valid API token to attack the business logic or data layer of an application can be successful because they are designed and engineered to target vulnerabilities that enable the use of the API.
  • The main obstacle with API gateways is that they can only monitor endpoints. Yet, it does not fully describe the full API schema (RESTful API and API interaction modes) of the services it makes available for consumption.

In addition to this, three common risks that can compromise API security are:

Lackluster approach to API count

Lack of information on the total number of public, partner, private, and composite APIs prevents security teams from understanding an API’s true exposure and risk.

Hackers versus developers

Hackers use even more sophisticated tools and methods to break into APIs at the developer level. They can take advantage of subtle errors to map the API, understand its structure, and find vulnerabilities in the code itself.

Who cares about our Small Business API?

Small businesses still lack the security that larger organizations have and are more at risk than larger ones because they cannot provide the necessary measures to fully secure their data.

WAAP – A solution to secure your APIs

WAAP (Web Application and API Protection) is critical because traditional security tools like firewalls and gateways can’t always provide the defense you need to prevent API attacks.

Consider that traditional web application firewall solutions are designed to protect against malicious activity performed on demand. This means they won’t stop all forms of phishing, including spear phishing attacks.

The attacker uses the information provided by the victim via email to promote an attack directly in the corporate environment. WAAP ensures that APIs are protected and do not lead to security exposures. The WAAP solution is centered on four key functionalities:

  • DDoS Protection
  • Next Generation Web Application Firewall (WAF)
  • Bot management
  • API Protection

By monitoring all Internet traffic entering applications with a WAAP solution, a company can detect malicious activity and ensure that only trusted customers are performing legitimate transactions on the platform.

The WAAP solution uses a fully managed, risk-based application security approach to manage web applications that protect against anomalous activity on cyber threats aimed at manipulating the transactional process.

Conclusion

We understand that API security should go beyond the enforcement of traffic policy and HTTP headers. It should provide precise policies under your control, allowing you to protect your API from scratch, ensuring secure operations.

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