To Develop a Secure API, Developers Must Treat Security as Their Own Responsibility

  • August 11, 2018
  • API
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To Develop a Secure API, Developers Must Treat Security as Their Own Responsibility

The security measure recently updated its list of top 10 security vulnerabilities and judging by the accompanying assessment, security continues to be a major issue with today’s applications. In today’s times of APIs, where companies like Matrix Marketers are making their core assets and business processes available for others to integrate into the hope of becoming a crucial (and thus “monetizable”) part of an ecosystem. In this era, the risk for intrusion attacks, data theft or just plain-old DOS attacks is evident. The small risk may lead to a big disaster and may spoil the entire application.

Since the API market is developing and people use APIs in their applications in different ways and when it comes to the communication of the API with the backend processes which most of the APIs do, the inbuilt security is must be developed for securing the API functionality. During a survey conducted on the API development and security, most of the APIs were having security laps.

First up is plain ignorance. “It won’t happen to us” (or “I don’t know what you’re talking about”): The notion that no one would care to attack your application or API, or the false surety that no one will affect your application just because it is made on secure platform does not guarantee safe existence.

Early adoption of new and cool technologies. As already stated, far too often development teams don’t care about assessing their code for security vulnerabilities, and of course, that goes for developers of new components and frameworks as well. Due to high risk, the focus is probably on adding new features and disrupting their landscape, not on making sure that their error messages don’t disclose sensitive information or that their APIs aren’t vulnerable to injection attacks.

Security is a vast field, and it means different things to different people. Some think of authentication and authorization, some think of SSL, encryption, and signatures – and some think of VPNs, Firewalls, and BYOD. Add a never-ending list of standards and acronyms to the mix (WS-Security, SAML, OAuth, SSL, etc.) and the risk is high that only a few of these areas will be priorly checked during the development of your project. Oh, did I leave vulnerabilities and attacks out of that list?

Also, a number of trends in computing mandate the need for proactive security assessments and know-how:

The general trend to move applications and data to the cloud ultimately puts them in an environment where they are more accessible to others than they were in your private data center. The firewall and routing configuration built around protects the applications to some extent but 100% security can’t be provided. Exposing core processes and methods of the APIs which are exposing business data accessible to all business partners and hackers.

Big Data/NoSQL is all about storing as much data as possible – there is the risk that this data could be misused if it ends up in the wrong hands.

The security issues will become a major reason for the failure of APIs in the coming future. You are vulnerable to attacks no matter what technology or platform you use. Before building a new application take the following precautions:

Ensure security for the backend processes. It deserves to be made visible, just like performance, functionality, usability, etc.

Proactively invest in security know-how and testing at the ground level. Find the security breaches and find the solution to fix them, just like they are hopefully aware of common performance pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Testing and implementing security in the project is the responsibility of every developer. It should not be left as the last activity of the project and responsibility for one person.

Monitor running applications regularly for security vulnerabilities using available tools, as you are monitoring performance and functionality. Especially if you are in a fast-moving organization that has embraced DevOps and continuous deployment practices, new components or changes can have unwanted side effects.

Make use of free tools and resources (like those available at OWASP) to get an overview of relevant vulnerabilities and how to make sure they do not affect you.

The big question in API usage is the safety of common third-party APIs and the distribution of third-party APIs by ensuring their misuse in the network. For example, what if an attacker manages to inject a malicious script into a third-party solution which returns that script in an API response that you are handling? Should you scan for this yourself? Or what if you are inserting sensitive data into a third-party solution via their APIs – should you proactively encrypt or sign data to “handle” an eventual intrusion on their side? Even if you don’t have the budget to implement, you can take little precautions to secure the network.

In the end, Matrix Marketers developers would like to say that it is difficult to maintain security, and it requires both time and in-depth technological know-how to master. As such, as part of an internet community, don’t make security “Somebody Else’s Problem” – especially since that “Somebody Else” might ultimately be your users or customer if you are compromised. They deserve better, right?


In the coming times, faster and reusable development is required to be done and API is the best option for future use. But with the increasing use of APIs, the security of APIs is becoming mandatory. The more secure is the API, more successful is the application. To build secure and advanced applications, you may contact Matrix marketers, a web and mobile development company developing its own APIs and also using third Party APIs in the various applications.

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We provide the web, mobile and cloud solutions. We have adopted the process, system & technologies to produce scalable solutions. Our focus is to develop long-term strategic partnerships with our clients by exceeding expectations and a great level of transparency. Our developers are in constant touch with the clients to imbibe the client’s viewpoint.

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