APIs are everywhere in the world around us, and we are unaware of how we use them in our daily lives. Whether you are hailing a cab online, ordering pizza, or streaming content on YouTube or Netflix, you use APIs for business. APIs today aren’t just technical tools but are widely leveraged by businesses of all kinds to innovate and transform business processes.
Why are APIs so important for businesses today? Where does API security figure in all this? Why is it critical to deploy API security solutions for businesses?
Secure APIs for Business: Why They Are More Important Than Ever?
Increasing Use and Importance for Businesses
Technically speaking, APIs are interfaces that connect disparate apps and allow controlled interaction between these diverse, free-floating apps on the internet. But the technical definition and use cases aren’t the reason organizations are looking towards APIs; APIs for business/ business APIs/ web APIs are drawing organizations towards the API economy.
Today, businesses are built by enabling access to core business assets in a controlled and predefined manner to internal and external audiences. And APIs for business offer simple, easy-to-use, and easy-to-integrate interfaces for business assets such as customer records, product catalogs, orders, prices, etc. They drive self-service consumption by diverse users without assistance. They also ensure faster data transmission and processing of requests.
Another reason why APIs are so important today is because they enable developers to seamlessly access, use, integrate and invoke business assets for broad-based consumption. Developers can create new, secure web APIs at lightning speeds, be much more responsive to the rapid changes in customer expectations and the business environment and keep innovating to gain competitive advantages. APIs for businesses offers powerful, actionable insights to improve application performance and user experiences.
Just like systems, software, and apps, APIs also help microservices connect and communicate with each other. This is important in today’s digital world, where businesses move away from monolithic apps that contain everything to headless and MACH architectures, multi-cloud strategies, and widespread use of third-party technology and services. Here, business APIs connect the tissue between the different, replaceable building blocks that form the application.
We can summarize the benefits of APIs for businesses as follows:
- Agile development
- Faster deployment
- Seamless third-party service integration
- Accelerated speed to market
- Rapid innovation on the experience, ease-of-use, business functionalities, and other fronts
- Improved user experiences
- Quick data transfer
- Expand reach and gain new customers
- Communication across different domains/ lines of business
Given all these benefits of APIs for businesses, businesses have had a massive upsurge in their use. In 2019, the volume of API calls in web traffic was 83%. This means that attackers will find ways to exploit API vulnerabilities and gain unauthorized access to business assets and endpoints.
Widening Attack Surface
The sheer volume of APIs used by businesses has accelerated dramatically, increasing the number of potential vulnerabilities. Data suggests that the average number of API endpoints tripled from 28 in 2020 to 89 in 2021. It is only logical for the API call volume to increase as well. In H1 2021, the monthly API call volume grew by 141%. This has only widened the attack surface.
Growing API Security Risks
APIs for businesses are leveraged to access business assets, data, and functionalities quickly by the web applications, mobile apps, or cloud-hosted apps they are connected with. Even though most APIs are not meant for public use, they are often granted full access to all business assets and data, making them lucrative targets to attackers. They are easy to expose but challenging to defend, especially if they are not designed and tuned for robust, ongoing security.
The ease of use and integration of API for business has led to generic implementation, inadequate security testing, business logic flaws, and an overall increase in API security risks. For instance, if default permissions are enabled instead of role-based authorization and access, it causes broken authorization and access controls and increases the risks of sensitive data exposure.
Further, API security is an emerging field. Security teams and developers are still grappling with the security implications of leveraging diverse APIs and the unique security challenges they pose to their business models.
Massive Increase in API Attacks
APIs for businesses are lucrative targets for security breaches and attacks. Accordingly, in H1 2021, malicious traffic grew by 348%. 94% of businesses faced API-related security incidents between July 2020 to July 2021, with 39% finding authentication flaws. And API attacks are costly and damaging.
Traditional methods are ineffective against the highly sophisticated and persistent API threats. For instance, bots are particularly dangerous attack vectors for APIs since they are designed for computer-to-computer interaction. So, the usual methods do not work to stop bot attacks against APIs.
APIs for businesses are strategic necessities to thrive in the app-driven business landscape, and so is their proactive protection. To effectively secure business APIs, choose a next-gen security solution like AppTrana’s API Protection.