API Security Myths

There are several myths and misconceptions about API security. These myths about securing APIs are crushing your business.

Why so? Because these myths are widening your security gaps. This is making it easier for attackers to abuse APIs. And API attacks are costly. Of course, you will have to bear financial losses. But there are other consequences too:

  • Reputational damage
  • Customer attrition
  • Loss of customer trust
  • Difficulty in acquiring new customers
  • Legal costs
  • Massive fines and penalties for non-compliance

In this article, we will debunk the top 5 myths about securing APIs

Secure APIs Better: Top 5 API Security Myths Demystified

Myth 1: API Gateways, Existing IAM Tools, and WAFs are Enough to Secure API

Reality: These aren't enough to secure your APIs. They are layers in API security. They need to be part of a larger security solution.

API gateways monitor endpoints. They provide visibility into API usage. They offer some level of access control and rate-limiting capabilities. They authorize and route API calls to the correct backend services. But most API gateways aren't built for security. Developers use them for integration purposes.

We do have API security gateways too. But they can only track and secure north-south traffic. North-south traffic connects the front end and back end. This traffic passes through the WAF. API Gateway is not effective in securing east-west API traffic. This traffic makes up the connections between servers, containers, and services. These don't pass through the WAF.

Further, it does not discover all API endpoints. It cannot identify and classify different data types. So, it offers limited visibility. It is a rather unidimensional way to secure your APIs.

Existing IAM (Identity and Access Management) tools help authorize and authenticate machine identities. WAF (Web Application Firewall) is a shield between API traffic and server/ API. But these security tools don't offer visibility, which is key to API security. They rely on signature-based detection techniques, which can't secure APIs effectively.

All three of these tools only offer low-level security barriers. They aren't equipped to detect emerging types of malicious behaviors. Attackers can easily bypass these defenses and conduct API attacks. They should be part of a multi-layered, cohesive, API-specific security solution.

Myth 2: API Security is Simple

Reality: The underlying concept of APIs may be simple. However, API security is far more complex.

APIs connect two programs. But this doesn't mean that the interconnected programs are automatically secure. By its very nature, APIs expose data and digital assets. Further, you may not have complete visibility into all your APIs. This leads to shadow APIs that attackers can exploit. This widens the API attack surface. Your API security will fall short if you don't plan and execute it properly.

Simple API solutions aren't effective in the agile digital landscape. You need advanced, upgraded API security solutions to prevent threats.

Myth 3: Developers Will Always Bake Security into APIs

Reality: Developers don't automatically ensure security by design.

More enterprises are moving towards a shift-left approach. It intends to find and fix security gaps as early as possible in the development process. This helps accelerate the speed-to-market of APIs. It also allows you to avoid the additional costs of fixing flaws at later stages.

Adopting this approach doesn't guarantee secure-by-design APIs. Developers may not bake security into every API by default. There are several reasons for this:

  • The static and dynamic testing tools at their disposal are not API-specific. As a result, it doesn't detect API-specific risks effectively.
  • Even automated tools can't find all vulnerabilities.
  • Developers aren't aware of the latest best practices.
  • They don't use AI or behavioral analysis to detect logical and unknown flaws.

Want to build secure-by-design APIs?

You need to invest in the best API security solutions. And you must integrate them early as possible into the development process. Not just that, you must keep educating your developers on the latest best practices.

Myth 4: Cloud Providers Secure APIs by Default

Reality: Not always! And securing APIs is a shared responsibility.

Cloud providers will offer some level of security. For instance, they may provide API gateways, API management tools, etc. But these tools don't offer the level of protection you need.

Remember that they just must secure the cloud. You are responsible for the data and apps you run within the cloud. If you are using cloud services, you need to invest in multi-layered solutions to secure your APIs.

Myth 5: Zero Trust is Enough to Secure APIs

Reality: Sole focus on zero trust sets you up for failure

Most enterprises singularly focus on zero-trust policies to secure APIs. This doesn't improve API security much. Why? By their nature, APIs need access to function properly. But zero trust architectures restrict access. Attackers can hijack authenticated sessions too.


Avoid these flawed approaches to your API security. With attackers expanding their abilities, your security strategy needs to enhance its scope as well.

Singular tools and traditional approaches don't secure APIs effectively. You need API-focused, multi-layered, fully managed solutions like Indusface API Protection.

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