Click here to close now.

Welcome!

@MicroservicesE Blog Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Lori MacVittie, Liz McMillan, Cloud Best Practices Network

Related Topics: @MicroservicesE Blog, Java IoT, Linux Containers, @CloudExpo Blog

@MicroservicesE Blog: Article

One Simple Step Can Make Your APIs More Secure

APIs have unique risk profile that must be managed

APIs - application programming interfaces -- are an old technology that has become today's hottest method for getting critical data to mobile apps. APIs are good for business. APIs drove $2 billion in business for Expedia by securely exposing valuable content to its affiliate network.

But there are hidden dangers to using APIs. APIs share many of the same threats that plague the web, but APIs have unique risk profile that must be managed. It is a mistake to think we can secure APIs the same way we secure the web.

But there are some really simple things that anyone implementing an API can do, right now, that will minimize the risk of APIs. Here's one I've pulled from a new eBooklet by Scott Morrison of CA Technologies called Five Simple Strategies for Securing Your APIs. The tip? Turn on SSL for your API and keep it on.

Most of us surf the web every day with no SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), and the only time we use it is when we're on Amazon.com and we're buying a book and need to put in our credit card number. We turn it on to buy the book, and then we turn it off because, in the early days of the web and even up until five years ago, SSL was very costly to run. Web sites were getting hammered by traffic, and using SSL slowed things down even more. There was a whole industry that sold SSL accelerator boards for web servers.

This created a culture of only turning SSL on when we really need it. Even though SSL provides strong security if it's applied correctly, we've gotten used to leaving ourselves open and vulnerable because it once hurt our performance to use it all the time.

People are now bringing that same mentality from the web over to APIs. They might have two APIs, one for buying books and the other for looking up shipping costs. Because the buy book API deals with important information, like credit cards, it gets wrapped in SSL. But the other API gets left in the clear. According to Morrison, this is a bad idea, and he thinks everyone should be using SSL all the time for all APIs, full stop.

Google, for example, has shown us that you can connect to their servers with or without SSL with no penalty in performance. The modern CPU is pretty good at doing the kind of floating point math required to do SSL efficiently. And, perhaps more importantly, the cloud has made CPU resources really cheap. It takes next to nothing to provision a few extra servers to handle any extra workload caused by SSL.

The security gains of turning SSL on for all transactions happening on your API far outweigh the minor performance loss. Not using SSL is an example, says Morrison, of the web mentality coming into the API world and being misapplied. APIs are much more vulnerable to attack than web sites. Not using SSL might once have made sense in the web world, but it certainly doesn't make sense in the API world in 2014. Morrison says we should be applying SSL to every API transaction, full stop.

This covers only one of the five simple tips Morrison shares in his eBooklet, Five Simple Strategies for Securing Your APIs. I think you might find the rest of his suggestions equally insightful and actionable.

More Stories By Jackie Kahle

Jackie is a 30-year veteran of the IT industry and has held senior management positions in marketing, business development, and strategic planning for major systems, software, and services companies including Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, and Gartner. She currently manages the strategy and execution of CA Technologies thought leadership programs. Jackie has an MBA from the Whittemore School, University of New Hampshire, a BA in Mathematics from New York University and is the Vice-Chair of the N.H. State Council on the Arts.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
Containers are changing the security landscape for software development and deployment. As with any security solutions, security approaches that work for developers, operations personnel and security professionals is a requirement. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kevin Gilpin, CTO and Co-Founder of Conjur, will discuss various security considerations for container-based infrastructure and related DevOps workflows.
Overgrown applications have given way to modular applications, driven by the need to break larger problems into smaller problems. Similarly large monolithic development processes have been forced to be broken into smaller agile development cycles. Looking at trends in software development, microservices architectures meet the same demands. Additional benefits of microservices architectures are compartmentalization and a limited impact of service failure versus a complete software malfunction. ...
Containers have changed the mind of IT in DevOps. They enable developers to work with dev, test, stage and production environments identically. Containers provide the right abstraction for microservices and many cloud platforms have integrated them into deployment pipelines. DevOps and Containers together help companies to achieve their business goals faster and more effectively. In his session at DevOps Summit, Ruslan Synytsky, CEO and Co-founder of Jelastic, reviewed the current landscape of...
The cloud has transformed how we think about software quality. Instead of preventing failures, we must focus on automatic recovery from failure. In other words, resilience trumps traditional quality measures. Continuous delivery models further squeeze traditional notions of quality. Remember the venerable project management Iron Triangle? Among time, scope, and cost, you can only fix two or quality will suffer. Only in today's DevOps world, continuous testing, integration, and deployment upend...
Conferences agendas. Event navigation. Specific tasks, like buying a house or getting a car loan. If you've installed an app for any of these things you've installed what's known as a "disposable mobile app" or DMA. Apps designed for a single use-case and with the expectation they'll be "thrown away" like brochures. Deleted until needed again. These apps are necessarily small, agile and highly volatile. Sometimes existing only for a short time - say to support an event like an election, the Wor...
"Plutora provides release and testing environment capabilities to the enterprise," explained Dalibor Siroky, Director and Co-founder of Plutora, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
DevOps tends to focus on the relationship between Dev and Ops, putting an emphasis on the ops and application infrastructure. But that’s changing with microservices architectures. In her session at DevOps Summit, Lori MacVittie, Evangelist for F5 Networks, will focus on how microservices are changing the underlying architectures needed to scale, secure and deliver applications based on highly distributed (micro) services and why that means an expansion into “the network” for DevOps.
Discussions about cloud computing are evolving into discussions about enterprise IT in general. As enterprises increasingly migrate toward their own unique clouds, new issues such as the use of containers and microservices emerge to keep things interesting. In this Power Panel at 16th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the state of cloud computing today, and what enterprise IT professionals need to know about how the latest topics and trends affect t...
Cloud Migration Management (CMM) refers to the best practices for planning and managing migration of IT systems from a legacy platform to a Cloud Provider through a combination professional services consulting and software tools. A Cloud migration project can be a relatively simple exercise, where applications are migrated ‘as is’, to gain benefits such as elastic capacity and utility pricing, but without making any changes to the application architecture, software development methods or busine...
Data center models are changing. A variety of technical trends and business demands are forcing that change, most of them centered on the explosive growth of applications. That means, in turn, that the requirements for application delivery are changing. Certainly application delivery needs to be agile, not waterfall. It needs to deliver services in hours, not weeks or months. It needs to be more cost efficient. And more than anything else, it needs to be really, dc infra axisreally, super focus...
Sharding has become a popular means of achieving scalability in application architectures in which read/write data separation is not only possible, but desirable to achieve new heights of concurrency. The premise is that by splitting up read and write duties, it is possible to get better overall performance at the cost of a slight delay in consistency. That is, it takes a bit of time to replicate changes initiated by a "write" to the read-only master database. It's eventually consistent, and it'...
Many people recognize DevOps as an enormous benefit – faster application deployment, automated toolchains, support of more granular updates, better cooperation across groups. However, less appreciated is the journey enterprise IT groups need to make to achieve this outcome. The plain fact is that established IT processes reflect a very different set of goals: stability, infrequent change, hands-on administration, and alignment with ITIL. So how does an enterprise IT organization implement change...
While DevOps most critically and famously fosters collaboration, communication, and integration through cultural change, culture is more of an output than an input. In order to actively drive cultural evolution, organizations must make substantial organizational and process changes, and adopt new technologies, to encourage a DevOps culture. Moderated by Andi Mann, panelists discussed how to balance these three pillars of DevOps, where to focus attention (and resources), where organizations migh...
At DevOps Summit NY there’s been a whole lot of talk about not just DevOps, but containers, IoT, and microservices. Sessions focused not just on the cultural shift needed to grow at scale with a DevOps approach, but also made sure to include the network ”plumbing” needed to ensure success as applications decompose into the microservice architectures enabling rapid growth and support for the Internet of (Every)Things.
Mashape is bringing real-time analytics to microservices with the release of Mashape Analytics. First built internally to analyze the performance of more than 13,000 APIs served by the mashape.com marketplace, this new tool provides developers with robust visibility into their APIs and how they function within microservices. A purpose-built, open analytics platform designed specifically for APIs and microservices architectures, Mashape Analytics also lets developers and DevOps teams understand w...
Sumo Logic has announced comprehensive analytics capabilities for organizations embracing DevOps practices, microservices architectures and containers to build applications. As application architectures evolve toward microservices, containers continue to gain traction for providing the ideal environment to build, deploy and operate these applications across distributed systems. The volume and complexity of data generated by these environments make monitoring and troubleshooting an enormous chall...
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud envir...
Containers and Docker are all the rage these days. In fact, containers — with Docker as the leading container implementation — have changed how we deploy systems, especially those comprised of microservices. Despite all the buzz, however, Docker and other containers are still relatively new and not yet mainstream. That being said, even early Docker adopters need a good monitoring tool, so last month we added Docker monitoring to SPM. We built it on top of spm-agent – the extensible framework f...
There's a lot of things we do to improve the performance of web and mobile applications. We use caching. We use compression. We offload security (SSL and TLS) to a proxy with greater compute capacity. We apply image optimization and minification to content. We do all that because performance is king. Failure to perform can be, for many businesses, equivalent to an outage with increased abandonment rates and angry customers taking to the Internet to express their extreme displeasure.
There's a lot of things we do to improve the performance of web and mobile applications. We use caching. We use compression. We offload security (SSL and TLS) to a proxy with greater compute capacity. We apply image optimization and minification to content. We do all that because performance is king. Failure to perform can be, for many businesses, equivalent to an outage with increased abandonment rates and angry customers taking to the Internet to express their extreme displeasure.