An application programming interface (API) is a set of protocols and tools for building application software. It is a set of functions that accomplish specific tasks within a software component. It often allows the automation of common processes that interact with services. API security best practices include building security into all points of API development and using adaptive security.
Components of API security:
- Authentication checks and confirms that a user has proper permissions to use your API. The user can access a web interface through the API by using a username, password, and possibly another identifier.
- Access Control guarantees only specific users can access a specific API. By using an access control framework, you control the list of APIs each specific API key can access. This allows levels of access rather than a simple “access” or “no access” binary.
- Encryption ensures that a request is protected in transit by scrambling or disguising information. That information is then made legible at the receiving end.
- Manual API testing. A security expert should check the API during development and before the release.
- Security testing for application layer attacks, such as code injection, cross-site scripting, and parameter pollution attacks, should be conducted.
- Black-box testing is used to see how APIs handle unexpected requests and inputs.
- Multiple tests and endpoints are used to ensure greater security rather than testing exclusively from a web browser.
Learn more about OWASP security, OWASP top 10 vulnerabilities, and look at our OWASP cheat sheet.