Key Areas and Best Practices to Focus for Mobile API Security

This article is originally written by Ankur Kumar, a content marketing expert, an experienced blogger, and an andactive member of FindNerd, a social tech community.

According to eMarketer’s “Worldwide Mobile Phone Users: H1 2014 Forecast and Comparative Estimates Report” between the year 2013 and 2017, the mobile phone penetration will increase from 61.1% to 69.4% of the International population. With the number of tablets and mobile phones on the rise, and constant decrease in sales of traditional PC, security of mobile devices is crucial. It is estimated that by the end of 2017, the focus of security breaches will shift from computers to smartphones and tablets.

With APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) becoming a crucial factor in any web or mobile application, security feels more like a journey than a destination. Of all the constituents that encompass an application, API gateway offers easy access points for a hacker to break in and steal your data. A single error in API can cause immense problems for any organization using your API. If you build a mobile app with the API, a hacker could easily reverse engineer it, exposing API key and misusing your service. If there is an individual application error, it will affect that particular application. However, if there is an error in the API, it will impact each and every application that reckon on that API. Businesses need to understand a couple of best practices to ensure that their Mobile API security is not at threat.

Best practices for Mobile API security include:

Recognize the APIs Risk

Recognizing APIs Risk plays a critical role. The challenge starts with developer’s priority lists. They tend to think too straight and focus on a set of particular service to make that feature as rugged as possible. Nowadays, back ends and front ends are linked to an assortment of components. Hackers are masterminds; they tend to find the way out and used it for despicable purposes. Developers need to recognize the ‘high API risk’ to keep the data safe. They are required to focus more on security than agility and functionality of the system. Cautiously use the APIs

According to a research conducted at the University of Virginia, developers delivered insecure codes, even after following accepted programming procedures. Three set of apps, including Client apps, were tested. The tests determined that 67 percent to 86 percent of the apps had high-security vulnerabilities which could lead to loss of system credentials. Undoubtedly, DevOps has made the resource allocation faster and simpler. However, it has lead to the rise of connections and complexity of system design. To be able to deliver new releases as soon as possible, even the responsible and well-intentioned programmer sometimes make reckless mistakes.

Closely watch add-on software

One of many promising uses of API interfaces is to facilitate third-parties to write add-on apps for a platform. Several social media programs and mobile solutions depend on some third-party platforms to add value to their base system. Such interfaces offer developers System administrator rights and functionality to the developers. Hackers voraciously try to figure out and covet those privileges to dig out such defenseless systems.

Wisely work with standards

Vendors have been working hard on the standards to ease the implementations and enhance the API Security. The results are not always positive. OAuth is one such open authorization standard which is designed to offer customers restricted but secure access to the system resources without sharing the credentials. It is frequently used by users to log into the FindNerd, an online project management tools platform through Google, Twitter, Facebook or Microsoft accounts. OAuth is designed to use in combination with TLS. If you use OAuth in the wrong way, you expose your clients and allow attackers to steal user identity. Canheck out these articles to know more about the performance and security of HTTP, HTTPs and SeaCat protocols.

Never forget to protect data on the backend

Organizations spend a lot of valuable effort and time to secure front end information, but hackers still find their way into their systems. Businesses are required to establish a checkpoint on the backend too. It can only be of a beneficial if the criminal can move the information to his own system. Two-point security is always useful. Protecting the client is only the first line of defense. The main defense has to be built on application backend. If you miss a cyber criminal from one point, you can still prevent him from stealing the confidential information on the way out. If the protection is at the client side only, it is a big mistake. Read this article to understand the importance and value of backend security.

Invest in security testing

I Security testing is a vital theme for API. Mobile API testing utilizes valuable time and money, but you consider making such investment. Any new functionality that propels the development has a sound budget, the security testing should also cover 5 - 10 percent too. API usage is empowering businesses to develop more and more dynamic applications. Organizations are taking advantage of the same, but they want to be well-aware of potential security threats revolving around APIs. Many testing suites bank on complexity. One example is when a client sends data other than English Unicode, the errors turn up too often. Similarly, when hackers try to experiment with well crafted Unicode spoofs, it turns out to be vulnerable. However, Unicode attack is just one example of many attacks targeting APIs. You can find additional information from OWASP’s API Security Project for potential attack vectors.

About Author:

Ankur Kumar is a content marketing expert and an experienced blogger. He likes to ideate and write on various topics including technology, digital marketing, startups, and the environment. He is an active member of FindNerd, a social tech community. An avid outdoorsman, explorer and nature lover who believes in minimalist lifestyle. You can find Ankur on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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