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API Security: APIs are Key in Connecting our Digital Ecosystems

API Security and Defense: The Overlooked Pillar of Cybersecurity

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APIs are the lifeblood of our digital ecosystems, seamlessly connecting internal value chains, supply chains, data exchanges, and partner networks. Despite their critical role, APIs often fall through the cracks when it comes to operational defense in many security programs.

Here's a quick self-assessment:

  • Do you know all the APIs in your environment?
  • Are you aware of the authentication methods they use?
  • Can you monitor APIs for specific types of abuse?
  • How long do your tokens last and what are they used for?

If you can confidently answer these questions, you're ahead of the game. For everyone else, here are five essential steps to fortify your API defenses:

  1. Transparency Through Discovery Regularly discover APIs in your codebase, conduct platform enumeration, and use specialized tools to scan for APIs. Make this a continuous process.

  2. Cataloging and Lifecycle Management Implement a Configuration Management Database (CMDB) if you don't have one. Ensure it includes an API stack and enforce lifecycle validation for all APIs to track changes and updates.

  3. Usage Management Define the expected use of each API. Establish parameters for control and assurance, such as what systems the APIs should interact with and the type of data they should handle. This groundwork is crucial for effective monitoring later.

  4. AAA and Identity Management Collect and assess all authentication mechanisms for risk. Consolidate where necessary and resolve any issues. Implement global token management to ensure visibility, enforce controls, and facilitate quick changes. Protecting APIs starts with securing access.

  5. Monitoring and Threat Management Deploy API threat management technologies and train your security operations team to recognize API-specific threats. Develop response protocols for API abuse and leverage threat intelligence teams to identify external risks and test defenses through red team exercises.

APIs are the gateways to your digital ecosystem. Ensure they are protected as if your business depends on it—because it does.

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About the author

Roland Cloutier

( fmr) Global Chief Security Officer TikTok & ByteDance, ADP, EMC. Partner / Principal - The Business Protection Group LLC . Advisor / Board Member / Global Speaker / Author

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