Shift Left and Watch Your API Security Be Right

Parin Shah
by Parin Shah on September 21, 2022 5 min read

“The world is getting broken down into APIs… every part of the stack of business that a developer might need to build is eventually turning into APIs that developers can use”- Jeff Lawson, CEO, and co-founder of Twilio, at APIDays Interface 2021.

If you have been on the internet, then you know that this three-letter word is no gimmick; it is one of the fastest emerging trends in the tech industry. APIs have played a key role in speeding up the digital transformation of business infrastructures. This powerful new intermediary has also brought on some unwanted guests looking to ruin the party. Hackers!

As dependency on APIs increases, so do their related security challenges like broken authentication, authorization, and accidental disclosure or breach of data. Concerns from developers and large companies have now been pushed into overdrive, with companies acknowledging the costly effect a breached security on their APIs could negatively impact customers consuming the API. API security has become an essential feature to make remote systems applications continue to work well together.

According to Gartner, “API security challenges have emerged as a top concern for most software engineering leaders, as unmanaged and unsecured APIs create vulnerabilities that could accelerate multimillion-dollar security incidents.”

With concerns about vulnerability within APIs heightened, 455 Research released a 2022 Security Trends Report hosted by No Name Security. Key Findings included pain points correlated with API security.

Key findings were as follows:

  • APIs are heavily leveraged, with an average of 15,564 APIs in use among survey respondent organizations and a growth rate of 201% over the past 12 months.
  • Forty-one percent (41%) of the organizations represented by survey respondents had an API security incident in the last 12 months; 63% of those noted that the incident involved a data breach or data loss.
  • An overwhelming majority (90%) of respondents noted that their organizations have API authentication policies in place, but 31% expressed shaky confidence that those policies ensured adequate levels of authentication.
  • Just over a third (35%) of survey respondents said projects were specifically delayed due to API security concerns; 87% of those believe more effective integration of API security testing (AST) into developer pipeline activities could have prevented those delays.
  • Only 51% of respondents have full confidence in their API inventories; 26% reported that their inventory update processes are manual.

How can you address such looming concerns and protect yourselves from Security Threats?

So how do we solve this? Shift left!

Modern application development teams understand that shifting left means bringing information to developers’ fingertips as early as possible in the development process to create efficient and secure applications and development processes. Vulnerabilities found earlier in the development are much easier to fix.”

Without a proper design in place, exposed API endpoints can be easily exploited by hackers. As a design-first API leader, security is always at the forefront for our company. Using a Design first approach and implementing security at the design stage can help fortify your APIs in the following ways.

Better API Security Starts with a Design-First Approach

  • You can create APIs that are not only well-designed and consistent but also highly secure. You can involve cybersecurity experts early in the design process, helping to ensure endpoints don’t have vulnerabilities hackers could exploit. When customers request new API capabilities, you can easily add new endpoints while also conferring with the cybersecurity team to ensure those changes won’t create security issues.
  • For help with the design-first approach, check out our API Design Hub to get started.

Better Enforcement of Governance to Improve Security

  • There are tools to apply checks on API specifications: much like you would use a linter like Prism on your source code, you can use these types of tools to enforce quality rules on your APIs.
  • Comprehensive style guides– Another tool to improve governance are API style guides. API style guides ensure everyone on the team follows basic API design patterns, ensuring consistency across your internal and external developers working on your APIs with the added benefit of enhancing your developer experience! Style guides are also directly correlated to security concerns by enabling your developers to address authentication and authorization!

Stay on Top of Changes and Detect Security Vulnerabilities Early

Another way to ensure nothing slips through the cracks is to be able to check changes in your APIs early on. Something like our new feature,
Proposals, facilitates oversight and governance within your API program by increasing visibility and mitigating risk by detecting breaking changes to your API the second they occur. No hacker will get past you now!

Stoplight Gets It… We Really Do!

At Stoplight, we are steadfast in following a design-first approach in all that we do, and we recognize that proper security is a critical component of getting that design right for our customers the first time. Security and compliance are top priorities for Stoplight because they are fundamental to your experience with the product, and Stoplight is committed to securing your data, eliminating vulnerabilities, and ensuring continuity of access.

Purposeful design empowers security that is built into your API strategy from the ground up! For more, check out our below webinar on Security Best Practices.

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