What are the Best Practices to ensure API Security!

What are the Best Practices to ensure API Security!
Offshore Software Development services
An Application Programming Interface, commonly known as API, refers to an intermediary that enables the exchange of information between two independent software components/platforms and ensures that the information reaches the right place. An API acts as a mediator between the external and internal software functions; making the information exchange process as seamless as possible. It not only offers protocols, tools, and routines to software app developers but also allows one to extract and share data in an accessible way.
APIs are indispensable in the realm of software development, but at the same time are highly vulnerable to attacks by hackers who exploit them for malicious gains. External APIs have public-facing endpoints and are susceptible to hacking; while internal APIs can be improperly accessed or misused. Since APIs interact with your web or mobile apps, securing them should be your priority.
This post outlines the adverse effects of API security breaches as well as the best practices to follow for ensuring API security.

What are the consequences of an API Security breach?

API security breaches often expose confidential data belonging to an Offshore Software Firm or their clients. As such, one such instance may result in the affected business enterprise losing credibility and encountering dire circumstances. Several such incidents have made headlines in recent years risking the reputation of firms and ushering in global security risks.
Take a look at some instances of API breaches and their repercussions.
  • The audio chat app, Clubhouse experienced an audio spill when an unauthorized user was successful in connecting to the API to enter multiple chat rooms, and then accessed audio files and thereafter, shared those files to a third-party platform. As a result, Agora, their API provider witnessed a sharp fall in their client shares.
  • British Airways encountered an API breach in the year 2018. Information belonging to 380,000 customers was stolen directly from payment forms and the airways had to pay a fine of more than 183 million pounds as a result of this hack.
  • In 2021, the Central Bank of Russia alerted firms about a scam where hackers stole information from mobile banking apps and then used it to execute fraudulent monetary transactions. The attackers debugged banking apps, examined the payment order, and studied the architecture of remote banking API calls to find out the victims’ bank account numbers.
  • Recently, an API exposure concerning Facebook photos resulted in a data breach affecting 6.8 million users. The attackers took advantage of a login bug to access users’ photos. This scam led to a fall in Facebook’s share prices.

Established Practices for ensuring API Security

Practices for API security
Identifying API Vulnerabilities
For securing your API against security threats, you must first identify the parts of the API lifecycle that are vulnerable to security risks. But, this task becomes quite challenging as software companies may use thousands of APIs at a time. The best ways to detect the security loopholes are scanning for the incorrect code and conducting extensive testing.
Strategic Monitoring
Monitor consistently and be ready to troubleshoot whenever any error is detected. For this, you need to audit, log relevant information on the server, and maintain that history as long as it is logical in the matter of your production servers’ capacity. In case any issues crop up and you need to debug; your logs need to be turned into resources. Monitoring dashboards can also be used for tracking your API consumption. Remember to add the version in the paths of all APIs. This will allow the functioning of several APIs of various versions and also enable the retiring and deprecation of one version over the other.
Encrypting Data
All data should be encrypted employing TLS (Transport Layer Security) and signatures should be made mandatory; for ensuring that only authorized users can access, decrypt, and modify data.
The usage of Tokens, API Gateways, and Service Mesh Technology
The usage of tokens is a sound API security practice. Access tokens enable an application to access your API. An access token is provided after the completion of the processes of authentication and authorization. Using these tokens you can build trusted identities and then assign tokens to those identities for controlling access to the API.
An API gateway acts as a single point of entry for all API calls. A good gateway enables enterprises to not only authenticate API traffic but also analyze and control how APIs are used.
The service mesh technology employs yet another layer of control and management by routing requests from one service to the subsequent one. A service mesh optimizes the combined functioning of all these moving parts and also establishes proper access control, authentication, and other security measures.
Utilizing OAuth and OpenID Connect Mechanisms
It’s a good idea to delegate the task of authorization and authentication of your APIs utilizing OAuth and OpenID Connect.
Using OAuth you need not have to remember endless passwords and rather than opening an account on each website, you can connect via the credentials of a third-party provider. OAuth allows clients to get secured delegated access to the server resources on behalf of the resource owner. This mechanism is leveraged by biggies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft.
Coming to APIs, the API provider depends on a third-party server for managing authorizations. So, the consumer, instead of providing their credentials, provides a token obtained from the third-party server. This way the consumers’ credentials are not exposed thereby securing them, and the API providers need not worry about protecting the authorization data since they receive only tokens.
OAuth is used as a delegation protocol for conveying authorizations while OpenID Connect is an identity layer added on top of OAuth for offering additional API security and authentication.
Protocol for Authorization and Authentication
Several APIs are easily discoverable making them an easy target for hackers. This issue can be resolved by following the practices listed below.
  • Guard your API documentation via authorization credentials for controlling the number of API requests and the persons who can access them.
  • Try not to make APIs user-friendly because hackers often impersonate users and make use of descriptive error messages to intrude into the API.
Firewalling APIs
Firewalling works wonders in protecting APIs. API security is arranged into two layers as follows.
  • The first layer: This layer is in DMZ, with the API firewall for executing basic security mechanisms that include checking the size of messages, HTTP layer-related security, and SQL injections. This enables blocking intruders during the early stages. This message is then forwarded to the second layer.
  • The second layer: This layer is in LAN and contains advanced security mechanisms on the content of data.
Placing Rate Limits
The higher the popularity of an API, the greater are its chances to encounter malicious attacks like DDoS. DDoS attacks are executed by sending continuous calls until the server crashes. However, setting rate limits is an ingenious way to prevent such attacks on an API and to control the issues that adversely affect its performance. A rate limit controls how often an API can be called. Moreover, placing a rate limit throttles unauthorized connections as well.
Sharing Minimal Information
Check out the best practices on how to share minimal information.
  • Make sure that you display the minimum required information, particularly in error messages.
  • Lock content and email subjects to pre-defined messages which cannot be customized.
  • IP addresses may disclose locations and so it’s better to maintain their secrecy.
  • IP Blacklist and IP Whitelist can be used to restrict attackers from accessing your resources.
  • Separate access into various roles, limit the number of administrators, and hide sensitive information across all interfaces.

Bottom Line

I hope this post has conveyed how important it is for business organizations to incorporate API security practices. If you are looking for an IT firm for assistance concerning API security, picking an efficient and experienced Offshore Software Development agency would be a wise decision.

Is hiring an Offshore Software Development Team a safe bet?

Is hiring an Offshore Software Development Team a safe bet?
Offshore Software Development
Hiring an offshore outsourcing software development company to execute product development is gaining momentum amongst the business enterprises located in top-tier countries like U.S., Canada, etc. A report by the online research portal XTGLOBAL, states:
“In the year 2020, almost 80% of the top-most firms worldwide i.e. fortune 500 companies, possessed offshore teams for accomplishing their business operations, and this trend is expected to grow in the years to come.”
These stats indicate the unprecedented popularity of the offshoring approach – outsourcing development tasks to vendors located in offshore countries. Yet, some entrepreneurs are unsure about the profitability of this strategy and wonder whether offshoring is a safe bet.
This blog weighs the benefits as well as drawbacks of offshoring and enlightens you about the reasons to consider the offshore model for software development. But before we commence, let’s take a quick look at how these offshore teams work.

How do Offshore Product Development Teams Function?

An offshore software development team usually follows an agile methodology which helps create a clear roadmap that fosters team collaboration, iterative development, and transparent communication. Such teams focus on a common objective of delivering the best possible experience to their client partners. Moreover, their developers are experienced, proficient, organized, and analytical individuals who clearly understand the clients’ specific requirements and strive hard to accomplish the best quality in the product development process as per client needs.

Top Reasons to Invest in Offshore Software Development

Offshore Software Development Team
Obtain Access to a huge Talent Pool
Would you like to obtain the best software development services available across the globe without much ado? Well then, offshoring is the most viable option. Why? If you intend to hire an in-house team of professionals for your project, you have to go through the hassles of fetching and recruiting programmers. This process is not only time-consuming but also involves lots of effort and expenses. Contrarily, offshoring enables you to move beyond the confines of your geographical boundaries and choose from a huge pool of talented professionals around the globe.
Reduced Turnover Rates
It is observed that turnover rates go higher when the demand for the workforce exceeds the supply. To address this challenge, the U.S. IT firms, adopted the initiative of offshoring product development during the late 1990s, and this strategy succeeded well, as it reduced the local demand to a great extent.
Besides, most of the popular offshore destinations experience high unemployment rates and much lower demand for software services from their domestic markets. As such, these countries promise much lower turnover rates and so, they’re worth the investment.
Lesser time invested and Greater Productivity
Hiring an offshore vendor agency eliminates the need for the client company to invest time in routine activities such as project management, HR processes including employee hiring/retention, and many more. Besides, the client firm need not waste time on the task of training new developers as the offshore staff possesses the necessary skills. Hence, this approach saves time and leads to greater productivity for the client company. After all, time is a crucial factor for start-ups and mid-sized companies to thrive in today’s competitive scenario.
Cost-efficiency
Client enterprises located in high-tier countries like U.S., Canada, U.K, etc. can cut down project expenses considerably by hiring offshore development services. The reasons are as follows.
  • Offshore locations come with much lower and highly affordable developers rates due to the lower cost of living.
  • The client firms need not pay for overhead costs like renting office spaces, payroll expenses, recruitment charges, insurance benefits, or employee vacations. Payment has to be made only for the services they use and all other costs are taken care of by the vendor company.
Effortless Scaling
Every business enterprise, particularly start-ups, comes across a situation when their team needs to be scaled or changes are to be made in the technology stack, as required by the scope and stage of the project. This turns out to be quite challenging and hiring an in-house team for this purpose could cost a fortune.
Offshoring, on the other hand, enables the clients to effortlessly scale their business as per the need. This is because the offshore software development company hired, will provide clients with an additional workforce whenever the need arises and they can easily switch developers between projects. Furthermore, the dedicated development team will take care of various other aspects like providing advice on the technologies in which the client firm should invest, profitable engagement and marketing strategies, plan of action for staying competitive, etc.
Access Most Recent Technologies at Affordable Rates
It is not feasible for most business organizations to access and maintain the latest technologies owing to their high expenses. The offshore agencies, on the contrary, focus on upgrading their skillsets and acquiring the latest technology stacks, as offering quality software development services is their prime objective. Additionally, they provide their clients with exceptional procedures, structured strategies, and highly organized documentation. These vendor agencies update and replace their clients’ software/systems whenever required.
Time to Focus on Core Business Functions
Certain software development activities like creating UI/UX designs, mobile app/website creation, implementing latest technologies like Blockchain, IoT, AI, etc. require continuous skill improvements, team supervision as well as a substantial amount of time and focus. For this reason, businesses are likely to get distracted from core functions.
Nevertheless, offshoring these tasks to reliable technology partners allows them the time to focus on core business operations. Thus, the workload gets divided and this synchronized way of functioning enables client enterprises to accomplish their goals.

Probable Risk Factors along with Remedial Measures

Take a look at the probable risk factors of offshoring and their remedial measures!
  • The vendor agency might fail to meet the product delivery deadlines and cause unnecessary delays. But, hiring a proficient manager/IT executive for monitoring and managing the project will zero down this risk factor.
  • The protection and security of data may involve certain risks when offshoring projects. However, to rule out this possibility, you need to be extra cautious while protecting and handling intellectual property rights. Besides, offshore firms, too take efforts to maintain data privacy.

When should you offshore Product Development?

You have Budget Constraints
Hiring in-house software professionals will cost you a fortune. So, if you have budget constraints, offshoring is the best bait as it will allow you to hire talented engineers at much lower rates.
You need to speed up development
Time is money! But, if you do not possess sound technical knowledge and enough experience, essential tasks like recruitment of software developers, extensive research on the best development tools, technologies, etc.; will be challenging and time-consuming. But, the highly competitive market you are involved in demands reduced time-to-market and prompt utilization of opportunities as soon as they emerge. So, to speed up the development process, offshoring proves beneficial.
You intend to minimize Liabilities
The entire process of the software product development process right from the inception phase to deployment of the end-product requires resources, time, attention, and focus. Moreover, a dedicated team has to be maintained and the necessary tools and technologies are to be acquired. All these crucial prerequisites may prove heavy on your pockets, particularly if you are a start-up or mid-sized company, hence trying to reduce liabilities and utilizing the available resources is most important to reduce the cost.
You need Flexibility
There are times when you prefer short-time contractual software developers instead of hiring and maintaining a full-time in-house development team. In such scenarios, offshoring employees help as your obligation to those professionals ends after the completion of the project.
You lack Quality and Innovation
Quality and innovation are stepping stones towards the success of software app development and allow you to gain a competitive edge over peers. Hence, if you find that your product quality is below average and the standard of innovation is deteriorating, it’s high time to adopt the offshore software development approach.

Bottom Line:

Adopting the Offshore development approach is a lucrative option and guarantees a higher ROI for businesses. This strategy does have a few pitfalls, but these can be resolved easily. In other words, the myriad advantages of offshoring undoubtedly outshine the drawbacks.
Looking for a reliable outsourcing firm and would like to gain more insights on this approach? Contact Biz4Solutions, a leading Offshore Software Development firm with extensive experience in serving global clients!