The Key Role of API Security

The reliance on Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) has grown exponentially in the last years, making them a prime target for malicious actors seeking to exploit vulnerabilities in the digital infrastructure. Recent surveys indicate a significant change of opinions with API security catapulting into C-suite discussions. A striking 48% of respondents acknowledge that API security has emerged as a significant topic at the executive level within the past year. In this article we will look into the escalating landscape of digital threats and the critical role APIs play in contemporary technology, with a specific focus on the growing attack surface of mobile applications. Additionally, we will explore how Build38’s solution can help protect mobile APIs and backend APIs.

 

Rise of digital threats and the imperative to protect APIs

 

While APIs are often associated with web applications, their scope extends seamlessly into the domain of mobile applications, where security measures are frequently inadequate. As the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem continues to expand, the significance of API security becomes even more pronounced, urging IoT device manufacturers to prioritise security in both design and default settings.

 

The growing attack surface of mobile applications

 

The complexity of securing APIs becomes pronounced in mobile applications. Unlike traditional applications, mobile apps often interface with a multitude of APIs, each presenting varying security levels and requirements. Identifying and securing this extensive network of APIs pose a considerable challenge for developers as the decentralised nature of mobile apps amplifies their attack surface, making each API a potential entry point for cyber threats.

With the surge in API-based connections, organisations are prioritising API security, recognizing its critical role in safeguarding data. The heightened frequency of API attacks underscores the necessity for robust security measures to protect APIs and the sensitive data they handle. As the cost of breaches continues to rise, coupled with a surge in application compromises linked to API weaknesses, the demand for robust API security protocols is becoming a critical business issue.

Here are some critical areas of focus:

Zero Trust for APIs: Applying zero trust principles to API security, mandating authentication and authorization for every API request, irrespective of the source.

OWASP Top 10 API Security Risks: Regular updates on the top 10 API security risks by OWASP, including risks such as broken authentication, broken object-level authorization, and security misconfiguration.

Proper API Authentication and Authorization: Emphasising secure authentication methods, such as OAuth 2.0, and implementing robust authorization controls to ensure only authorised users or applications access the API.

Transport Layer Security (TLS): Continued emphasis on TLS as a crucial security measure for encrypting API communications and protecting data in transit.

API Discovery and Monitoring: Increasingly crucial tools for identifying and tracking API endpoints, monitoring API traffic, and detecting any suspicious or malicious activity.

 

Challenges in mobile application security

 

The decentralised nature of mobile apps increases their potential vulnerability. The performance-driven practice of handling data on the client side exposes mobile apps to risks such as insecure data storage and leakage.

These are some of the challenges we come across with mobile applications:

Attack Surface: The decentralised nature of mobile apps increases their attack surface, making every API a potential entry point for cyber threats.

Client-Side Attacks: Mobile apps, for performance reasons, often handle data on the client side, exposing them to vulnerabilities like insecure data storage and data leakage.

App Store Security Limitations: While app stores enforce security measures for hosted mobile apps, APIs are often overlooked, leaving potential vulnerabilities unaddressed.

Microservices Architecture: Mobile apps frequently adopt a microservices architecture, complicating security enforcement with each service potentially having its own set of APIs.

 

Best practices for mobile app security

 

To counter these challenges, implementing best practices becomes crucial:

Integration of API Security into Software Lifecycle: Embedding API security into the software development lifecycle ensures robust security practices at all levels.

Reference Industry Standards: Refer to industry benchmarks such as the OWASP API security standard for guidance.

Security Assessments: Regularly assess the security of exposed APIs in mobile apps to identify and address vulnerabilities proactively.

Developer Awareness: Foster awareness among developers about common attacks and emphasise the importance of API security in the overall application security strategy.

 

Build38’s solution: Protecting mobile APIs and backend APIs

 

Build38’s Threat Intelligence & Response API, offers a suite of well-documented REST APIs designed to empower backend developers. This module facilitates the seamless integration of advanced mobile detection and response capabilities into mobile applications.

 

Key features of Build38’s threat intelligence & response API

 

Fine-Grained Programmable Detection: Transmit security events in real-time, including debugging, rooting attempts, data theft, and MITM attacks.

Fine-Grained Programmable Responses: Enable swift and precise responses to security breaches, including remote app lock and remote wipe.

Cryptographic Key Management-as-a-Service: Integrate strong cryptographic techniques effortlessly with REST APIs for generating and managing keys.

Build38’s Mobile App Security solution, offers key benefits for app developers. By seamlessly integrating advanced threat detection and response capabilities, it enhances overall security, ensuring organisations can proactively detect and counter emerging threats in real-time. It has real-time protection which extends to the instantaneous transmission of security information, enabling swift and tailored responses to various threat levels.

The versatility of Build38’s solution becomes evident as it caters to a spectrum of scenarios, from mitigating vulnerabilities to addressing ongoing attacks. With a focus on empowering development teams, the solution provides full control over mobile app security management, fostering a proactive and responsive approach to the evolving threat landscape. Moreover, the provision of well-documented REST APIs streamlines integration, saving valuable time and effort for developers. The inclusion of Key Management-as-a-Service further underscores Build38’s commitment to security, allowing organisations to effortlessly implement robust encryption methods, securing user logins, protecting data, and ensuring the integrity of secure communication channels. In essence, Build38’s solution emerges as a comprehensive and adaptable security solution.

 

Embrace a proactive approach to API security with Build38

 

The recognition of API security’s vital role is at the forefront of organisational priorities. As digital threats evolve, companies must proactively invest in API security especially in the context of mobile applications, and adopt innovative solutions like Build38’s Threat Intelligence & Response API. A proactive approach to API security is not just a choice but a necessity for maintaining trust, protecting sensitive information, and mitigating the potential consequences of security breaches.

Join us at the upcoming Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Discover firsthand how Build38’s cutting-edge solutions will revolutionise and protect the security landscape of mobile applications. Engage with us at booth CS50 for immersive insights or contact us directly for an in-depth discussion on our Threat Intelligence & Response API module.

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