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A Complete Guide To API Security

API Security

What is API security? 

An Application Programming Interface (API) enables software programs to communicate with one another. It is a critical component of current software paradigms, such as microservices architectures. 

API security refers to the process of safeguarding APIs against threats. Because APIs are so widely used and provide access to critical software operations and data, they are becoming a prime target for attackers. 

API security is an essential part of modern online application security. APIs may have vulnerabilities such as failed authentication and authorization, a lack of rate limits, and code injection. 

Organizations must test APIs regularly to detect and mitigate issues based on security best practices. This article covers a variety of API security testing methodologies and tools, as well as best practices for securing your APIs.

Why Is API Security Important? 

API security is safeguarding data exchanged over APIs, which are often used to link clients and servers across public networks. Businesses utilize APIs to link services and move data. A compromised, exposed, or hacked API may reveal personal information, financial information, or other sensitive data. As a result, security is an important issue while designing and creating APIs. 

APIs are subject to security flaws in backend systems. If an attacker compromises the API provider, they may have access to all API data and capabilities. APIs can also be hacked through malicious queries without being properly written and secured. 

A denial of service (DoS) attack, for example, can potentially bring an API endpoint back online or drastically reduce performance. Attackers can exploit APIs to scrape data or breach use limitations. More skilled attackers can use malicious code to carry out illegal activities or compromise the backend. 

With the emergence of microservices and serverless architectures, nearly every corporate application relies on APIs for fundamental operation. This makes API security an essential component of modern information security. 

What Does API Security Entail? 

Because you only have authority over your APIs, API security focuses on securing the APIs you expose, directly or indirectly. API security is less concerned with the APIs you use that are offered by third parties although examining outgoing API traffic can provide significant information and should be utilized wherever possible. 

It's also worth noting that API security as a practice spans several teams and systems. API security includes network security principles like rate restriction and throttling, data security, identity-based security, and monitoring/analytics. 

Another impediment to API visibility is the rogue or shadow API. Shadow APIs occur when an API is built as part of a program, but the API is treated as an implementation detail and is only known to a small set of developers. Shadow APIs are not on the radar of security personnel because they lack visibility into the implementation specifics. 

Finally, APIs progress through their lifespan. An API changes, new versions of an API are released, or an API is deprecated but continues to run for a limited time for backward compatibility before being forgotten or gradually falling off the radar due to low traffic. 

API Security: Best Practices

While this list of best practices is by no means extensive, it is an excellent starting point for improving your security posture. Let's get started. 

Implement Proper Token Verification.

 If the API backend verifies the token but does not check if it is related to the requested object, this might lead to faulty object-level permission. This vulnerability allows an attacker to get access to one object by violating the security of other objects or data streams. Improper permission assignments are the most common cause of failed access control. To fully implement it, different permission and verification checks should be done using the ID issued by the session rather than the one provided by the user. 

Change The Default Credentials. 

It is fairly commonplace for API developers to utilize default credentials to authenticate API users, resulting in faulty authentication and security vulnerabilities. 

Use Random Access Tokens

Random access tokens and short-lived tokens, together with rate-limiting API queries, are one technique to protect against failed authentication. Multi-factor authentication should be used to ensure security even if credentials are compromised. 

Ensure That There Is No Excessive Data Exposure

APIs often return more data than the application requires. A prospective attacker can use this surplus information to attack the API service. To avoid these issues, never rely on client apps for data filtering, and always check the use cases before delivering any personally identifiable information in response. 

Misconfiguration Checks 

Attackers often discover vulnerabilities in apps and software components. If your backend components and apps are insecure, it can result in serious data breaches. To avoid this, maintain all backend infrastructures and services up to date with all patches, and conduct frequent security audits. 

Prevention Against Injection Attacks 

Injection attacks are a major hazard to systems that use web components. Injection attacks arise when the backend trusts the user's input and processes it without filtering. This can lead to a data breach or a total online service takeover. 

 Implement Sufficient Logging And Monitoring

Many large-scale installations include infrastructure for logging and monitoring. If this is badly built and the logs are not adequately monitored by security information and event management (SIEM) systems, a security breach will become a major concern. 


APIs are omnipresent, and the risk of being hacked is real. While the work of protecting your API may appear demanding, by following the guidelines in this tutorial, you will be able to focus on your company without worrying about security. However, API security is only one part of complete API management that must be carefully considered to achieve optimum security and improve performance metrics through CubixTech.

At CubixTech, we're not just a technology company; we're pioneers in IT security solutions & services with almost 75% of Fortune 100 companies as our customers. With global deployments in 18+ countries & partnerships with over 10 "Global Best of Breed" IT Solutions companies, we offer unparalleled global IT solutions, services, & customized support for your business's digital needs.


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