Application programming interfaces (APIs) are becoming increasingly important for businesses to stay competitive in the digital age. However, they can also be vulnerable to malicious threats if not properly secured. Therefore, it’s essential for businesses to take measures to enhance their API security posture and address any potential vulnerabilities.
With that said, as the number of APIs grows, so does the need for visibility into how they’re being used. This is mainly to avoid API sprawl - a term that refers to the rising number of APIs without proper documentation or oversight. API sprawl leads to increased complexity in managing APIs, making it difficult for developers to keep track of all the APIs they’ve created. Which means they’re likely unaware of numerous unsecure or poorly configured APIs that may be vulnerable to attack.
API discovery is an important tool for combating this issue, enabling organizations to monitor API usage in ways they couldn’t imagine manually. If you aren’t familiar, API discovery is the process of locating the APIs within your organization, so you’re aware of all the APIs that exist. It allows organizations to proactively identify and address potential issues before they become major problems, or cause any disruption or downtime.
To help simplify things for you, I’ve distilled the many benefits of API discovery into 5 key reasons why you need it. I’ll cover both technical and business drivers you should consider, as well as next steps for you to continue learning.
Reason #1 - Increased Visibility
API visibility is a key factor in the success of any organization. With increased visibility, it becomes easier to manage and reduce API sprawl. This is where the right API discovery tool provides instant ROI. They enable organizations to find APIs quickly, helping them save time and money while ensuring that their APIs are secure, reliable, and up-to-date.
By making their APIs more visible, organizations can benefit from increased API usage and better customer experience. They benefit from API reuse as it reduces the attack surface since they’re not constantly reinventing the wheel and creating new bespoke APIs that might be misused. It is also easier to implement governance that way. With increased visibility, organizations can also better understand how their APIs are being used, and ensure that any changes or updates don't have unintended consequences on production systems.
Reason #2 - Improved Developer Experience
Developers are the backbone of any successful software product. With improved developer experience and engagement, developers can easily discover APIs, get access to relevant documentation, and find the right support when needed. This not only saves time but also increases productivity and reduces development costs.
By providing a better experience and engagement to developers, companies can create a more collaborative environment that boosts innovation and encourages creativity. With improved developer experience, they can also make sure that their products are up-to-date with the latest technologies and trends in the market. This helps them stay ahead of competitors while delivering high-quality products to their customers.
Reason #3 - Streamlined API Management
API management and maintenance are two of the most overlooked, though gravely significant, aspects of your API security posture. With the help of an API discovery tool, developers can easily manage their APIs. How? Well quite simply, because they can find them. This makes it easier for developers to reuse their APIs and keep in sync with their applications, thus reducing maintenance costs and improving performance.
API discovery tools also allow developers to streamline the maintenance process in many ways. Again, all made possible because the APIs are visible. This allows developers to focus on other aspects of development while ensuring that their APIs remain secure and reliable.
Reason #4 - Enhanced Security & Compliance
Ensuring security and compliance is an essential part of any business. With the help of secure APIs, businesses can ensure their data is protected. And as we’ve established, the first step is discovering what APIs you have. Only then can you ensure that the right people have access to them, and that they’re used in the most secure way possible.
With that in mind, data classification is yet another benefit of a robust API discovery tool when it comes to data privacy and regulatory compliance. They can help businesses meet various compliance requirements such as GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, PCI DSS, etc., as they are able to provide insight into the types of data that traverse your APIs and who uses them. Which means now you have real-time visibility into whether or not your data flow is violating company policies or industry regulations.
Reason #5 - Simplified Vulnerability Management
Vulnerability management is an essential part of any organization’s security strategy. It helps to identify and fix security issues before they become a major problem. With the help of API discovery, organizations can simplify the process of vulnerability management, and find API flaws and misconfigurations quickly.
Ideally, you wouldn’t deploy an API discovery tool in a vacuum, meaning it would likely be deployed as a part of a posture management solution and have a runtime protection tool running in tandem. Ultimately, these two would be the one-two punch to identify and protect APIs in production. Nevertheless, API discovery would still be a vital component in this vulnerability management equation.
Unlock the Benefits of API Discovery
To protect your business and customers from potential threats, it’s important to take measures to enhance API security. This includes addressing the various vulnerabilities that can be present in APIs. And as you can see, this frankly isn’t possible without API discovery. It’s honestly your first step in fortifying your API security posture.
I know this was only a teaser, so to help you get further educated on the subject, I recommend downloading our new ebook – the Definitive Guide to API Discovery. You will learn everything you need to know about finding and fixing all shadow, legacy, and zombie APIs potentially putting your organization at risk.