Welcome!

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, Linux Containers, @CloudExpo

Microservices Expo: Article

One Simple Step Can Make Your APIs More Secure

APIs have unique risk profile that must be managed

APIs - application programming interfaces -- are an old technology that has become today's hottest method for getting critical data to mobile apps. APIs are good for business. APIs drove $2 billion in business for Expedia by securely exposing valuable content to its affiliate network.

But there are hidden dangers to using APIs. APIs share many of the same threats that plague the web, but APIs have unique risk profile that must be managed. It is a mistake to think we can secure APIs the same way we secure the web.

But there are some really simple things that anyone implementing an API can do, right now, that will minimize the risk of APIs. Here's one I've pulled from a new eBooklet by Scott Morrison of CA Technologies called Five Simple Strategies for Securing Your APIs. The tip? Turn on SSL for your API and keep it on.

Most of us surf the web every day with no SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), and the only time we use it is when we're on Amazon.com and we're buying a book and need to put in our credit card number. We turn it on to buy the book, and then we turn it off because, in the early days of the web and even up until five years ago, SSL was very costly to run. Web sites were getting hammered by traffic, and using SSL slowed things down even more. There was a whole industry that sold SSL accelerator boards for web servers.

This created a culture of only turning SSL on when we really need it. Even though SSL provides strong security if it's applied correctly, we've gotten used to leaving ourselves open and vulnerable because it once hurt our performance to use it all the time.

People are now bringing that same mentality from the web over to APIs. They might have two APIs, one for buying books and the other for looking up shipping costs. Because the buy book API deals with important information, like credit cards, it gets wrapped in SSL. But the other API gets left in the clear. According to Morrison, this is a bad idea, and he thinks everyone should be using SSL all the time for all APIs, full stop.

Google, for example, has shown us that you can connect to their servers with or without SSL with no penalty in performance. The modern CPU is pretty good at doing the kind of floating point math required to do SSL efficiently. And, perhaps more importantly, the cloud has made CPU resources really cheap. It takes next to nothing to provision a few extra servers to handle any extra workload caused by SSL.

The security gains of turning SSL on for all transactions happening on your API far outweigh the minor performance loss. Not using SSL is an example, says Morrison, of the web mentality coming into the API world and being misapplied. APIs are much more vulnerable to attack than web sites. Not using SSL might once have made sense in the web world, but it certainly doesn't make sense in the API world in 2014. Morrison says we should be applying SSL to every API transaction, full stop.

This covers only one of the five simple tips Morrison shares in his eBooklet, Five Simple Strategies for Securing Your APIs. I think you might find the rest of his suggestions equally insightful and actionable.

More Stories By Jackie Kahle

Jackie is a 30-year veteran of the IT industry and has held senior management positions in marketing, business development, and strategic planning for major systems, software, and services companies including Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, and Gartner. She currently manages the strategy and execution of CA Technologies thought leadership programs. Jackie has an MBA from the Whittemore School, University of New Hampshire, a BA in Mathematics from New York University and is the Vice-Chair of the N.H. State Council on the Arts.

Latest Stories
"We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busin...
Between 2005 and 2020, data volumes will grow by a factor of 300 – enough data to stack CDs from the earth to the moon 162 times. This has come to be known as the ‘big data’ phenomenon. Unfortunately, traditional approaches to handling, storing and analyzing data aren’t adequate at this scale: they’re too costly, slow and physically cumbersome to keep up. Fortunately, in response a new breed of technology has emerged that is cheaper, faster and more scalable. Yet, in meeting these new needs they...
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, provided an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data professionals...
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 6-8, 2017 at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...
The cloud competition for database hosts is fierce. How do you evaluate a cloud provider for your database platform? In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Chris Presley, a Solutions Architect at Pythian, gave users a checklist of considerations when choosing a provider. Chris Presley is a Solutions Architect at Pythian. He loves order – making him a premier Microsoft SQL Server expert. Not only has he programmed and administered SQL Server, but he has also shared his expertise and passion with b...
In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Claude Remillard, Principal Program Manager in Developer Division at Microsoft, contrasted how his team used config as code and immutable patterns for continuous delivery of microservices and apps to the cloud. He showed how the immutable patterns helps developers do away with most of the complexity of config as code-enabling scenarios such as rollback, zero downtime upgrades with far greater simplicity. He also demoed building immutable pipelines in the cloud ...
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
"IoT is going to be a huge industry with a lot of value for end users, for industries, for consumers, for manufacturers. How can we use cloud to effectively manage IoT applications," stated Ian Khan, Innovation & Marketing Manager at Solgeniakhela, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Onalytica. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
Predictive analytics tools monitor, report, and troubleshoot in order to make proactive decisions about the health, performance, and utilization of storage. Most enterprises combine cloud and on-premise storage, resulting in blended environments of physical, virtual, cloud, and other platforms, which justifies more sophisticated storage analytics. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Peter McCallum, Vice President of Datacenter Solutions at FalconStor, discussed using predictive analytics to mon...