|By Jackie Kahle||
|April 5, 2014 11:45 AM EDT||
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.
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This week, I joined SOASTA as Senior Vice President of Performance Analytics. Given my background in cloud computing and distributed systems operations — you may have read my blogs on CNET or GigaOm — this may surprise you, but I want to explain why this is the perfect time to take on this opportunity with this team. In fact, that’s probably the best way to break this down. To explain why I’d leave the world of infrastructure and code for the world of data and analytics, let’s explore the timing...
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Jul. 30, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,083
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Jul. 30, 2015 04:45 PM EDT
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Jul. 30, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,196
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
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Jul. 30, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 480
MuleSoft has announced the findings of its 2015 Connectivity Benchmark Report on the adoption and business impact of APIs. The findings suggest traditional businesses are quickly evolving into "composable enterprises" built out of hundreds of connected software services, applications and devices. Most are embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) and microservices technologies like Docker. A majority are integrating wearables, like smart watches, and more than half plan to generate revenue with ...
Jul. 30, 2015 02:30 PM EDT
Jul. 30, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 285
One of the ways to increase scalability of services – and applications – is to go “stateless.” The reasons for this are many, but in general by eliminating the mapping between a single client and a single app or service instance you eliminate the need for resources to manage state in the app (overhead) and improve the distributability (I can make up words if I want) of requests across a pool of instances. The latter occurs because sessions don’t need to hang out and consume resources that could ...
Jul. 30, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 179
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Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, S...
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Software is eating the world. The more it eats, the bigger the mountain of data and wealth of valuable insights to digest and act on. Forward facing customer-centric IT organizations, leaders and professionals are looking to answer questions like how much revenue was lost today from platinum users not converting because they experienced poor mobile app performance. This requires a single, real-time pane of glass for end-to-end analytics covering business, customer, and IT operational data.
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Approved this February by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), HTTP/2 is the first major update to HTTP since 1999, when HTTP/1.1 was standardized. Designed with performance in mind, one of the biggest goals of HTTP/2 implementation is to decrease latency while maintaining a high-level compatibility with HTTP/1.1. Though not all testing activities will be impacted by the new protocol, it's important for testers to be aware of any changes moving forward.
Jul. 30, 2015 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 158
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You often hear the two titles of "DevOps" and "Immutable Infrastructure" used independently. In his session at DevOps Summit, John Willis, Technical Evangelist for Docker, covered the union between the two topics and why this is important. He provided an overview of Immutable Infrastructure then showed how an Immutable Continuous Delivery pipeline can be applied as a best practice for "DevOps." He ended the session with some interesting case study examples.
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Jul. 30, 2015 06:00 AM EDT Reads: 396