API safety: the brand new safety battleground

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“Whereas defenders pursue probably the most highly effective and superior options they will discover, the enemy wants solely a single consumer with a foul password or an unpatched software to derail a whole defensive place.” This quote by Dr. Chase Cunningham from his e-book, “Cyber Warfare – Reality, Ways, and Methods,” appears a becoming method to start the subject of cybersecurity battlegrounds.

Whatever the methods used, going massive, costly, and shiny – whereas doubtlessly helpful – doesn’t exchange the necessity for a well-reasoned method to securing belongings based on conventional actions and ideas. Innumerable belongings are housed behind APIs, and the widespread use of APIs means they’re high-profile targets. Securing them is of the utmost significance.

Two historic books got here to thoughts for this subject:

  • Artwork of Conflict, by Solar Tzu
  • Ebook of 5 Rings, by Miyamoto Musashi

I selected these two on account of their applicability to the subject (oddly sufficient as a result of they’re much less particular to trendy safety – one thing about their antiquity permits for a broader software).

After revisiting the books, I made a decision to take Musashi’s 5 (5) ideas (scrolls; Earth, Water, Hearth, Wind, and Void) and match them as greatest as attainable with 5 of the quite a few teachings from Solar Tzu. I then utilized them to securing APIs within the rising cybersecurity area the place there are an rising variety of risk actors.


Musashi’s focus within the Earth Scroll is seeing the larger image. Practitioners have to know the panorama or the 30,000 ft view. Solar Tzu stated, “The supreme artwork of battle is to subdue the enemy with out preventing.”

Find out how to Apply

One wants to know the character of API assaults and attackers in securing APIs. One instance of a typical exploit class is Safety Misconfiguration.

Some basic API safety actions that may stop assaults earlier than they even get began together with following an SDLC, implementing entry management, deploying some type of edge safety, utilizing steady monitoring and alerting, and utilizing acceptable structure and design patterns.

API attackers are ruthless and relentless. Most criminals need a straightforward win and utilizing good protection will fend off a excessive share of assaults.

Encryption is a should, each in transit and at relaxation. The enemy may be thwarted by not with the ability to use what was stolen.


It’s essential to be skilled and versatile – or fluid – on a person degree, and that features one’s function within the firm. Solar Tzu stated, “Be versatile.”

Find out how to Apply

Gathering cyber risk intelligence (CTI) makes it attainable to adapt to altering threats in actual time. Intelligence gathering, even utilizing Contextual Machine Studying (CML), signifies that one doesn’t rely upon previous info, rumour, rumors, or peer info. Depend on as a lot clear, related, and present info as attainable about threats and dangers for one’s personal firm.

Along with CTI, concentrate on a well-designed and examined incident response plan.

Intelligence and responding to incidents go a good distance towards making firm safety agile and adaptable.


The Hearth side is concerning the precise use of the weapons (instruments) on the battlefield. Solar Tzu stated, “The enlightened ruler lays his plans effectively forward; the nice normal cultivates his assets.”

Now that the correct foundations have been constructed, it’s time to make use of the API instruments which have been carried out.

Find out how to Apply

Handle and keep the API assets and establish the strengths and weaknesses of the API system, Making certain safe authentication and authorization strategies for API entry.

Additionally, set fireplace to vulnerabilities by way of common safety testing. This could embrace vulnerability scanning and pentesting, if not pink/blue/purple teaming, and even one thing like Chaos Monkey to check uptime (an oft-overlooked side of API safety).


That is additionally interpreted as “Type.” Right here, the objective is to check (not simply passively observe) opponents. Solar Tzu stated, “If you realize the enemy and know your self, you needn’t worry the results of 100 battles.”

Find out how to Apply

For the trendy day, we’ll broaden this to learning how different corporations have handled cybercrime and cyberattacks. One will enhance by learning others primarily based on sides similar to trade, rules, and org measurement.

It is simple for a corporation to a) assume it is alone or b) imagine it does higher than anybody. This will result in isolation. Org leaders have each motive to set their org aside – distinction is a significant element in having an opportunity at making a worthwhile, if not lasting, enterprise. However there aren’t all that some ways to uniquely safe a enterprise – phishing is phishing whether or not in opposition to a global enterprise or an area espresso store; an API for a fintech org is far the identical as an API for ice cream store (the architectures out there are solely in just a few flavors) – many individuals can use it and abuse it.

Intelligence sharing with different corporations may be useful in making a safe neighborhood.


The thought right here – additionally referred to as Vacancy, is known as “no thoughts.” This doesn’t imply that no mind exercise is concerned, however factors extra to instinct, consciousness, and performing on intuition. Motion doesn’t all the time require pondering issues by way of, getting enter from others, and planning one thing. Some issues – whether or not by pure inclination or by coaching – are simply second nature.

Solar Tzu stated, “Make the most of your strengths.”

Find out how to Apply

Play to your strengths: particular person, departmental, company. There’s nobody else such as you or your organization.

Leverage the strengths of your API assets to reinforce safety. Be sure you know your instruments out and in. Usually, they’re costly and really possible, they’re not used to full capability.

Concentrate on steady studying and enchancment. This requires a staff of people who work effectively collectively and are independently obsessed with defending information.

This intuitiveness is just not primarily based on trade, spreadsheets, or information evaluation however will depend on related stakeholders’ particular person and collective experience. Usually, it is going to be addressing many fronts without delay, similar to improved IR, developer coaching, selecting a platform that gives quite a few API protections (whereas additionally avoiding a single level of failure), getting authorized and compliance groups to find out subsequent steps within the privateness regulation panorama, and performing common incident response and catastrophe restoration workouts.


To paraphrase the basic ending of lots of Musashi’s teachings, these concepts needs to be given cautious and thorough reflection.

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