API Security Buyer’s Guide
This Buyer’s Guide highlights the key capabilities…
We developed a rigorous approach to securing APIs. This API Security Checklist goes beyond a simple collection of API security best practices and is based on the API lifecycle. It starts with planning, proceeds through development, testing, and concludes with operation and protection. Essentially it’s a guide for creating a secure SDLC management process for your APIs.
Securing application programming interfaces (APIs) is a challenging workload. They literally contain instructions on how to access them and get the data sitting behind. This is a hacker’s dream. There’s no “security through obscurity.” In addition, APIs almost always bring together disparate groups in the organization. These groups may not be able to easily coordinate security, even if they wanted to. The number of APIs simply “out in the wild” further complicates security.
Some API security stakeholders believe that countermeasures like API gateways and web application firewalls (WAFs) will protect them. This is not entirely true. APIs present unique challenges that can be missed by traditional application security methods. With that said, a great deal of risk exposure remains even when these technologies are in use. So if you have an application security checklist you’ve been using, changes are it hasn’t been too effective.
For these reasons, we developed a more rigorous and methodical approach to securing APIs. We call it the API Security Checklist. More than just a collection of web API security best practices, the checklist is based on the API lifecycle, starting with planning and proceeding through development, testing, operation and protection. Essentially it’s a guide for creating a secure SDLC management process. At each stage, four recommended controls enable a robust API security posture. The control focus and lifecycle stages of this secure SDLC management process can be represented in the following chart:
|Roles and Responsibilities (Governance)
|Policies, Standards and Specifications
|Developer Environment (IDE, Repos)
|Defect Tracking and Resolution
|Source Code Testing (Static and Dynamic)
|Change and Release Management
|Inventory of APIs
|Inventory Sensitive Data
|Log or Traffic Collection
|Threat Detection and Alerting
|Sensitive Data Movement
|Blocking and Remediation
API security begins well before anyone starts writing code. At the planning stage, it is essential to think through governance issues like roles, responsibilities, and policies. Planning is the best time to determine security metrics, too, along with lifecycle management processes.
API planning security checklist:
In development, the policies established in the planning stage come to life. Developers are responsible for creating secure APIs, working in partnership with other stakeholder groups.
API development security checklist:
Once APIs are developed, they must undergo a thorough cycle of testing. Similar to an application security testing checklist, the following outlines security controls to implement in your API testing program.
API security testing checklist:
API security should remain in force as APIs go into production. Indeed, this is where APIs tend to get lost and wind up as points of vulnerability.
API operation security checklist:
API protections must remain in place throughout the API lifecycle. This workload covers log and traffic collection, threat detection, alerts and more.
API protection checklist:
These are suggested controls. It’s a lot to take in, and in reality not every organization will not be adequately covering all 20 of these as well as they might want to. However, the checklist is a valuable way to establish best practices and identity areas for improvement in API security. It provides a helpful baseline for a well-run API security operation.
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