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API Security

The concept of an API management

The concept of an API management

The world of mobile and web app development revolves around API or Application Programming Interface. It’s a magic wand using which an application developer lets the applications correspond with each other. 

While you’re dealing with API, gaining acquaintances with API management operations, tools & terms is compelling. If you won’t do so, a loosely-managed API will create mayhem beyond one's imagination.

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Learning Objectives

An Introduction to API Management

In technical terms, API management pertains to the API development, operations, safety, and distribution as per the industry’s best standards and scalability for a product or business. It’s done to ensure that the APIs are serving their purposes and helping business ventures as required.

API management tends to alter or modify as per the organizational needs. However, API security, monitoring, and version control are its 3 attributes that your team cannot overlook while creating a strategy for using and improving the API successfully in the long term.

API Management functions

API management definition

A gateway API is important as it makes all sorts of API administration effortless. It stands in the midway for API and the targeted application. APIs are transported from the gateway first to reach the destination i.e. the app. 

Gateway authorizes the APIs and directs them to the relevant services. While this authentication and API exchange happens, the gateway decodes versatile API protocols and shows the right application service way to every request. Gateway sanctions the APIs and guides them to the relevant services.

Deploying a gateway brings multiple perks to the developers. For instance, software coding is reduced for both the APIs and services. Keeping response time and service requests latency is effortlessly achieved. Gateways advance its security by centralizing the overall task of management. 

Developers have to keep the API gateway update process straightforward and light so that no hefty burden on CPU gateway is exerted. Doing so warrants the conventional functioning of gateway APIs during the changes.

Gateway implementation simplifies API management at multiple stages. But, if it’s not handled properly, multiple bottlenecks can hinder development. For instance, the system can be overflowed with API requests.


What Makes API Management a Compulsion for Today’s Scenario?

APIs carry business-critical data and make complementary assets accessible to the world via web/phone applications. They are useful for digital operations related to a business. However, when lacking attention, the usage as well as up-gradation of APIs suffer, hindering their ability to be secured, scale, and grow.

It’s essential because:

  • Strategically managing the API results in the seamless exchange of traffic between backend to front-end systems. 
  • API governance - a crucial management step - deals with generating a unified experience for patrons. With its help, API lifecycle, discoverability, and reusability can be tracked and managed. This information ensures each API instance is fulfilling its purposes right.
architecture API management

API management platform 

Seeing the power of automation, managing API has also been handed over to API management platforms or software. Using such platforms, businesses can trim down the efforts, time, and money invested in maintaining the product as well as its API.

One such satisfactory and potent platform comprises:

  1. Developer tools 

Every reliable API management platform features one or many API developers tools that can take care of jobs like API generation, testing, debugging, document generation, API usage governing, and API deployment. Mostly, a highly visually rich API development ecosystem is generated by these developers' tools to aid the API code generation. 

  1. Management Core

It handles the API lifecycle, letting development teams track everything from API generation to its going out of service. Management Core also offers support resources for API creation, configuration, testing, and maintenance.

  1. API Gateways

For effective data trade, every efficient API management platform should be equipped with a server for request authorization, administering facts to the back-end team, and transporting the responses to the requester. It’s known as API Gateway. 

Gateways act as a bridge between all the connected systems and services in order to pass on the fundamental information seamlessly. It bears the responsibility of intensifying the API efficiency and reducing downtime. The gateway is also in charge of tasks like schema validation and data transfer between the source to the destination. 

  1. Databases

Data security and fetching data from relational or non-relational databases are a few crucial things when it comes to application security. So, interaction with databases through APIs must be secure too. API calls monitoring and detail recording can help in this. With this, any inconsistent or incorrect operation can be caught and needed actions can be taken in time.

  1. Reporting and analytics 

Tracking API development, usage, deployment scenario, and utility are decisive API management factors. With reporting and analytics components, an API management platform can watch over all these API-related metrics like API volume transferred, time taken in the API development, and data objects returned. 

Usually, a dashboard features reporting and analytics details. Such continual API monitoring helps in API performance optimization and guides a business at each step of API management journey. 

API management platform 

API Management Platform Examples

Seeing the weariness that is demanded in managing APIs, it’s wise to take the help of an automated tool that can work without being tired and making zero errors. Here are some of the most viable platforms that one can use for error-free management of your APIs.

  • Postman

Postman is a desktop-based platform that works perfectly to manage an API from beginning to end. It can handle the whole API lifecycle through a unified dashboard. It’s capable of working with all kinds of APIs such as RESTful, SOAP, and so on. 

It’s a great tool for end-to-end API testing and works seamlessly even with customized and 3rd party APIs. It lets you automate the testing in the CI/CD framework. 

As Postman comes with a highly interactive and intuitive UI, any greenhorn API developer can make its use hassle-freely. It shares real-time security alerts and keeps you posted about every security hazard. However, be ready to face the random waywardness during configuration.

  • IBM API Connect

In case you’re looking for an end-to-end tool for managing your API, try IBM API Connect, which offers a wide range of tools that will assist you in managing, running, and securing APIs in a hybrid cloud ecosystem. It can assist you to find reusable APIs. It offers a TLS profile to secure traffic.

  • Azure API Management

If you’re extensively involved in Azure APIs, you can use the Azure tool that can handle 3rd party cloud and on-premise APIs. It’s a highly integrated platform and supports customization.

Advantages: What makes API management Compulsory for you?

API management is a labored task that pays off well if done rightly. If done appropriately, it keeps multiple API security threats at bay, letting a business enjoy seamless API implementation. Its major benefits include:

  • Businesses can make more data-driven decisions and track API analytics.
  • Managing a detailed API document makes developers and consumers more informed.
  • Eliminating outdated and legacy systems is easier as high-end API management software can easily migrate the data.
  • The API platform dashboard grants centralized visibility to all the APIs and connects them with each other. This trims down the efforts capitalized on API repetitiveness and API security vulnerabilities.
  • API monetization, revenue generalization, and billing tracking can be done in real-time. 


API management tools

Handling API operations and keeping them consistent is a tedious task. IT can only attain perfection by combining human acumen and technology. Presently, the market is flooded with highly powerful API management aids that can automate thousands of mundane yet crucial API management jobs for developers and accelerate API development, enablement, and testing. 

JMeter

JMeter is tagged with the perfection of Apache Software Foundation and is an open-source tool assisting greatly in application testing. Basically, suitable for load testing of RESTful API, JMeter is made up of Node.js, Express, and MongoDB. It’s also a great help to have for API performance surveillance. 

SoapUI

Developers looking for a reliable API management tool able to handle cross-platform API testing can bank upon SoapUI. This tool can automate load testing, regression, and compliance-related tasks. It's easy and impressive testing interface permits developers to work on API configuration of multiple situations simultaneously. 

The tool is also a great source of sporting real-time API security vulnerabilities such as XML bombs, SQL injection, and cross-site scripting.

API Connect Test & Monitor

Developed by IBM, it is a meticulously designed zero-code tool, assisting mainly in API testing. With its help, developers face no hurdles to test any of the API endpoints using any authentication protocols. The entire testing takes place in an utterly secured ecosystem. 

Tedious and tiring API testing jobs like API health monitoring, test scheduling, API accuracy validation, and collaborative testing are automated by this tool. Hence, developers save a huge deal of time and effects. 

lifecycle of API management model

Top 5 Use Cases

  1. Assisting in Digitization

In a world where digital transformation is the only way to thrive, tools for managing/handling APIs can help a business leverage its API management strategies by allowing organizations to integrate the digital assets that an organization is using. 

Adopting new tools & technologies is an essential part of digitization. Using all these updated & modern technologies will make sense only when they all are well-integrated and managed. 

Tools for managing APIs help organizations integrate all these tools and use them via a unified platform. They help greatly in API testing, implementation, tracking, security, and maintenance with full automation. This reduces efforts and allows organizations to speed-up digitization.

  1. GDPR and compliance

Using API demands uncompromised adherence to certain GDPR requirements. For instance, one has to be concerned about data privacy while moving data from one place to another. As these tools offer aids like API Gateways that help greatly in user data protecting and accessing information via APIs. 

Also, it protects the API information/data via access keys alongside security tokens. With these tools, organizations can increase their control while the integration procedure which paves the path for strong compliance and standardization.

  1. Improving data security

Tools that help you handle your APIs operations are a great way to improve API security as they allow API users to apply encryption, user login, MFA, and multiple other cybersecurity measures. Along with improving the API’s security profile, it helps greatly in keeping the threats as less as possible. The tool keeps an eye on API activity and notifies users about any danger. The tools have the potential to spot errors in drivers, networks, API components, and OS.

  1. Deploy Data-as-a-Service

DaaS or Data-as-a-Service is one most common use cases in this row. It refers to using the cloud to proffer facilities like integration, analytics services, data storage, and processing using network connectivity. 

With DaaS, organizations are allowed to have software/hardware locally installed and managed. DaaS permits quick data storing and processing that further makes scalability easy to achieve. As they are fully automated tools, things are sorted out. With DaaS, one tends to enjoy the flexibility and fewer security complications.

  1. Enjoy improved B2B integrations

API management tools are useful to bring impressive B2B integrations that will later help organizations to bring automation in business processes and communication. B2B integrations enable users to bring suppliers, partners, and customers all together. 

Tools for managing APIs bring two different types of B2B integrations. The first type is data-level integration which allows organizations to move from paper to digital. The second kind is people-level integration which supports extensive-level collaboration and communication. Both these integrations help an organization pull internal and outside data for seamless processing.

Microservices and API Management

These are two key ingredients of successful and innovative application development necessitated by every business. When combined together, Microservices and API Management are called cloud-native application development approaches. 

While this approach is time and cost-saving, it’s not free from challenges. Think of this example: It’s very tedious to break huge and complex systems into smaller yet equally effective components. There is a need of having a constant connection between all these smaller data resources and components. 

APIs can be helpful in this regard. In the process, API management makes sure that an adequate discovery mechanism for microservices can be done and the user documents, explaining the use case scenario of microservices, are offered via the developer portal.

Security of microservices demands a unified approach that depends on the APIs. To begin towards the same, external-facing services can have a separate security setup which is different from the internal ones. 

If the API is not used for crucial tasks then the API key is enough. Microservices, using critical APIs, use OAuth for security.

How to Enable Data Security through Efficient API Management?

Managing APIs well is, and will be, at the front seat when improved customer experience, increased efficiency, and enhanced IT operation are concerned. As API is about data and knowledge that it transports, its management is incomplete without robust API security practices.
To implement them well, Wallarm API security platform could be of great help for you. Cloud-native API management is our forte. The platform plays its role in managing APIs by taking the responsibility of end-to-end data security in API design, development, use, and testing. You can manage the maturation of all sorts of APIs like RESTful API, SOAP, GraphQL, and gRPC can be managed with Wallarm.

Watch the video: Wallarm NG WAF and API security

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