Why API Security Issues Arise: Protecting Perimeters, Not Data
API Perimeter Protection is Not The Be-All, End-All of API Security
Over the past few years, application security tools bore down on the market as malicious API traffic targeted the organization's perimeter at an unprecedented volume.
Given this increase in attacks, that the average API has 26 serious vulnerabilities, and that many organizations have hundreds and even thousands of APIs under their control, there was no surprise that we saw this surge toward perimeter protection tools occurring.
After all, every time an enterprise exposes an API, they are effectively "punching a hole" in their corporate perimeter. Building a protective perimeter to block as many attacks as possible was necessary.
Security Shifts in 2023
While many of these attacks can or will be stopped, not all of them will be, and we've seen time and again the consequences of vulnerabilities being exposed (Top 60 Data Breaches, Ranked). The attack surface is growing by the day, and hackers will continue to demonstrate new and innovative ways to attack and capture an organization's data through exposed APIs vulnerabilities.
Perimeter tools - excellent though they are - cannot be the gold standard of API security. Organizations should use them in tandem with other security approaches to help comprehensively reduce risk to the organization.
That's because perimeter tools alone will not be able to handle and stop the attacks that are expected to double by 2024. As a result, we're seeing a shift starting to occur as we look forward to 2023. More and more research points to the necessary improvement in securing and managing APIs. These improvements involve using perimeter tools in conjunction with the proactive tracking and fixing of API vulnerabilities and implementing a more comprehensive approach to API security.
If API vulnerabilities can be rapidly and effectively resolved while perimeter tools are running, surges in malicious API traffic will become a lot more manageable and threat levels will decrease. The key to this rapid resolution: Robust API data you can count on.
Fixing vulnerabilities in APIs can be difficult without a clear understanding of what it takes to do so. Before we can adequately secure the inner circle, we must understand why API Security issues are rising, why perimeter tools aren't enough, and what needs to be corrected.
There are many internal and external reasons for API Security issues (read them all in our ReactFirst Ultimate Guide). But in this post, we'll be focusing on four internal-facing patterns. Just these four internal problems alone contribute to the need for more comprehensive approaches to API Security.
Why API Security Issues Arise
Application development is changing, fast
It's been some time since applications were built in a monolithic fashion using home-grown libraries with server-side layer logic controls. Now, API-based architectures support applications orchestrated by hundreds of internal and external microservices. Additionally, controlling logic more so happens on the client-side.
Development teams are more agile than ever before
With access to rich development frameworks across many languages and many commercial and open tools at their disposal, developers can work faster and more productively than ever before. Applications have moved from releasing every six months to releasing several times per day. However, AppSec teams are still largely dependent on the manual testing of APIs.
Security is taking a back seat
Development teams are primarily focused on functionality over security. Security is viewed as an inevitable, mandatory bottleneck in the development process. Checking for vulnerabilities is often tedious, with analysis tools raising hundreds of false positives for developers to parse through. Securing APIs is not often prioritized, and even when it is, the nature of adequately securing APIs is easier said than done. Prioritizing functionality over security translates to weaker perimeters and more work for perimeter tools.
Lack of visibility into APIs
Organizations have an alarming lack of visibility into their APIs in 2022. Without transparency into the API environment, organizations have no real way to understand the scope of the problem they're facing. A lack of transparency translates to no real strategy around managing and securing their APIs. In turn, this leads to inaction - the most dangerous approach an organization can take around APIs in 2022.
An Explosive Combination
More vulnerable APIs delivered at a frantic pace + manual processes driven by understaffed AppSec teams + an inadequately secured inner circle + lack of visibility into APIs = severe, compounding cybersecurity risk to the organization.
With these factors, and with malicious API traffic expected to hit an all-time high in 2024, it’s imperative that organizations move quickly. Process Tempo can help manage this explosive combination through our robust, out-of-the-box API data solution. With it, we deliver the visibility, analytics, and process improvement structures you need so you can focus on better securing, managing, and strategizing around your APIs both now and in the future. Download our API Landscape Assessment Overview to understand how we do it: