This resource is the intro chapter of our new guide – Opening Up: How to get the most out of your APIs without being vulnerable. You can download the full guide here.

The meteoric rise of API technology

APIs are all the rage and for good reasons.

Recent years have seen an impressive adoption rate for APIs and major advancements in the field. APIs aren’t just a technological benefit; they have a direct positive business impact on various industries undergoing digital transformation. Research has found that more than 80% of organizations consider APIs a leading factor in digital transformation procedures

Last year, more than 65% of surveyed companies stated that they expect their use of APIs to grow. This figure is very likely to rise: In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated API adoption. The rapid pace of digital transformation during the pandemic led companies in many industries to turn to API technology.

APIs have also gained popularity with developers who implement APIs created by other businesses. This has led to more companies developing their own APIs as part of their development plans. More than 75% of companies use APIs, and nearly 60% created original APIs
in the last five years
.

Diagram
Source

The spike in API adoption isn’t a coincidence. Many companies have begun to realize the huge benefits of API use, which affects internal processes and business practices. We are about to see a meteoric rise in the number of APIs being exposed by organizations.

 

The bright side: The benefits of API adoption

Open ecosystems, competitive and regulatory pressures, and the growth of microservice architectures are the primary forces that are driving API adoption, enabling diverse strategies for organizations to generate value:

Operational efficiencies

APIs facilitate seamless communication and offer enhanced interoperability. Organizations operating in complex industries enjoy the ability to use tools and systems that exchange information without the need to break down technical barriers.

APIs join different pieces of the operational puzzle into one clear picture for everything involved, thereby improving productivity and efficiency across the organization. APIs further reduce costs by enabling the organization to focus on its core responsibilities rather than on developing in-house solutions for every function.

Agile innovation

APIs allow companies to enhance and expand product functionality in a fraction of the time, without having to venture into a costly project that may not succeed. APIs are a playground of possibilities, where developers can find the solution to practically any need.

A culture of open innovation approaches challenges from the outside in, not the other way around. Realizing strategic objectives requires a much broader perspective on innovation and R&D.

Customer experience

The digital customer experience has been increasingly recognized by organizations as a source of loyalty and trust, resulting in a lasting competitive advantage. Reworking the customer experience is therefore a critical business imperative, ensuring consistency across all channels. 

For various industries, from banking to healthcare to retail to the public sector, organizations have adopted an API-driven approach to connectivity for creating state-of-the-art experiences for their customers in a flexible way.

Business opportunities

APIs are the next frontier of business development. Organizations with well-developed APIs establish and maintain relationships in the endless digital economy. APIs make it possible for others to incorporate the data of your organization into their applications.

Various organizations operate API partner programs that enable businesses to take advantage of the extended API solution, enjoy advanced support, and customize its features. These partnerships provide an instant competitive edge that could result in further collaborations between the API developer and the business that’s using the API.

 

The dark side: API attacks can reach anyone

But while APIs get their reputation for ease of use, in reality, they are very complex to build and maintain. Exposing the logic, APIs become vulnerable to functional attacks. As a result, many companies struggle with building APIs that are properly secure. 

Security and development teams tend to approach API security differently: security teams don’t always appreciate the complexity of APIs, and development teams tend to not grasp the security risks well enough. This situation can ultimately result in a high-level breach and data loss, directly traced back to unsecured APIs.

Image of attack headlines

In the past few years, we’ve seen some of the world’s biggest businesses and technology giants suffer the consequences of unprotected APIs. Security breaches can have serious consequences. Attackers can lock company data and access to accounts; use employee and customer data for identity theft purposes; expose the company to regulatory fines; and cause significant damage to the organization’s reputation and users’ trust.

The message is clear: When an API is unprotected, no one is safe.

Open shouldn’t mean exposed

This guide examines the fine line between openness and security. Download the full guide.

Inside, you’ll find:

  • How to take the first step towards protecting your APIs by clarifying the significance of APIs to your business, mapping current and future use cases, and business reliance.

  • How can you know your APIs better than the attacker by conducting an initial vulnerability assessment: What every function does, what are the flows, and what is an acceptable usage for users – – and what isn’t.

  • How to find the best API security solution to match your company’s needs, asking the right questions regarding visibility, accuracy, prevention, automation, and integration.

  • How can you embrace functional API security thinking and give every API the protection it deserves, by analyzing actual data to map the logic and generate the dedicated rules to protect and test each API.