Must Have Skills for Effective API Security

Gartner reports that by 2022, APIs will be the most frequent target hackers will use to compromise data. API security, which should always be a concern of enterprises, requires a certain set of skills.

These skills are necessary for developing and implementing the solutions and strategies that can properly address the vulnerabilities and security risks that are unique to APIs.

Technical Skills

Having an expertise in certain products or brands is not as important as having a thorough technical awareness. Technical awareness gives you a clear picture of what the product and technology landscape looks like and is more valuable for understanding and mitigating API security issues.

With API-led connectivity, you can methodically connect data to applications by employing reusable and purposeful APIs. These APIs have to properly be designed and developed to execute the specific roles assigned to them and fit into the security framework.

There are well-crafted design principles that can help make APIs more convenient for developers to consume. These best practices, which can include prioritizing documentation, also improve developer experience and reduce the likelihood of incorrect code.

Areas of vulnerabilities increase as the capabilities of networks and network infrastructure continue to drive both application and API development. Knowing what is necessary for maintaining network security is critical.

Adhering to best practices for API security can help ensure that API deployments do not result in security issues. This can entail being cognizant of the risks of APIs and carefully monitoring add-on software.

Being serious about API security means having a solid understanding of the major authentication methods, such as Oauth2.0, SAML, SSO,basic authentication, etc.

Securing authentication and authorization requires a careful understanding of API security strategies. Implementing access control using a modern API security strategy can be compared to the airport model, as explained here, where multiple techniques work in unison.

In order to stop hackers, you have to know how they implement their attacks. This entails having working knowledge of:

  • OWASP top 10 attacks
  • Basic attacks
  • Advanced attacks
  • Attacks at different network layers

Having secure APIs requires a multi-layered approach that uses a number of components. This includes gateway security, network/infrastructure security, and last-resort security that can automatically detect and block attacks that deviate from the norm. Knowing how these three layers interact with one another to provide protection is essential for effective API security.

Non-Technical (Soft) Skills

API development does not occur in a vacuum. Effective security requires communication with InfoSec, enterprise architects, developers, CIOs and CISOs. Security professionals will have to bring all of these different people together and get the most out of each of their skills to help secure the API environment. You need to be able to relay the purpose of the API and what data is exposed and articulate the data in a manner easy to understand for those who have to use and apply the information.

Post development, API developers also have to communicate design and how to consume APIs. Visual communications, such as diagrams of different layers of security, system interactions, flow of data can help people understand the API. Visual tools can also be used to expose API definitions or communicate how to consume APIs, helping consumers test the end-user version of the API.

Empathy helps to provide insight. Not understanding the consumer’s point of view can contribute to conflict between the technical teams and users because the consumers want flexibility and greater access. You also need to understand APIs from the viewpoint of hackers in order to know how to stop them.

Empathy is gained through experience. Being curious and seeking knowledge by asking pertinent questions can also help you understand another point of view. How does the user interact with the API? How would a hacker interface with this API? What kind of information can a hacker get from the API? Are examples of the type of thinking empathy allows.

You also have to keep in mind the future issues associated with APIs and what contingencies, plans or solutions need to be in place for what will happen to the API in the future. Long-range issues can pertain to management, maintenance, the impact of personnel turnover, how to execute version control and how to remain up to date with the latest in API security.

Aaron’s passion for technology drives him to find innovative ways to help advance organizations through technology.