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
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
Companies are harnessing data in ways we once associated with science fiction. Analysts have access to a plethora of visualization and reporting tools, but considering the vast amount of data businesses collect and limitations of CPUs, end users are forced to design their structures and systems with limitations. Until now. As the cloud toolkit to analyze data has evolved, GPUs have stepped in to massively parallel SQL, visualization and machine learning.
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...