10 best practices for comprehensive API security

Security isn't optional for APIs. It's a cornerstone of proper API management that can't be overlooked — especially in today's digital business ecosystems. As APIs sprawl and associated gateways clutter the landscape, new variables are introduced, making API security more complex to control — but not impossible. Here are 10 ways to build a fortress around your data and prevent potential loss. 

01 Control user access

Adjust user settings and authorization. For example, set rules so that only administrators can delete reports. These will help safeguard sensitive data from exposure or loss. 

02 Enable token expiration

Require users to reauthenticate after a certain period has passed. Placing an expiration on the authentication token reduces the odds of an attack from those who would steal it. 

03 Mask credit card digits

Configure API responses to mask all credit card digits except the last four. There's a reason why this practice is used broadly wherever credit card identification is used. It works. Exposing as little of this sensitive information as possible prevents fraudulent use. 

04 Always use HTTPS

Be sure to encrypt data traveling through API pipelines at all times. Using HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) certificates ensures the authenticity of encrypted API requests and associated responses. 

05 Ensure third-party security

Third-party dependencies can be highly beneficial to APIs but also invite risk when outdated. Establish a program to perform regular updates to ensure third-party dependencies remain secure. 

06 Implement a rate limit

Establishing a rate limit caps the number of API requests that can be made. This prevents excessive requests that can cripple API availability and functionality and result in financial losses.

07 Set up an IP whitelist

A whitelist is a record of people or things that can be trusted. Set up one that designates a group of IP addresses that should have access to API requests. Any IP address not included on the list will not have access to the information. 

08 Create custom error messages

When a transaction fails, have a custom error message ready to share. Be careful to customize the data in a way that conveys as little informational data to recipients as possible. 

09 Validate schemas

Make sure APIs are operating with the proper input and output schemas. Validating schemas is a kind of quality assurance practice that ensures the integrity of the data. 

10 Use security headers

HTTPS headers for inbound and outbound messages protect APIs from cyberattacks by activating a series of security measures when any unauthorized attempt to access data is detected. 

Now that you know what to prioritize in API security, it's important to have a platform to support these needs. Axway's Amplify Platform combines a universal approach to API management with extensive built-in capabilities to help you drive up the business value of your APIs securely and in less time. 

Learn more about how to get your API security under control

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