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API Security Best Practices: Enable Good Governance

Jake Beck
February 6, 2024 | 10 min read

APIs provide the foundation for delivering digital and automation efforts. It has never been easier to construct and deploy APIs at scale, allowing businesses to build what they need when they need it. API governance guarantees that API quality and security are constant across the design and deployment processes. However, we frequently find API governance as a barrier to product delivery. Without effective governance, the APIs we construct and utilize to build a modular company become the weak link that exposes data.

In this article, we will cover what API governance is, how it may help your organization, how to govern APIs and some API security best practices for API governance.

What is API Governance, and How do You Best Govern APIs?

The action of defining and implementing standards, rules, and processes to ensure that your APIs are standardized, trustworthy, and secure is known as API governance. API governance is an essential component of an advanced API management program since it offers the milestones that lead to effective APIs.

Policies and standards are applied through checks and validations, such as ensuring the uniqueness of API. API expansion happens when there are too many APIs in too many places, which frequently causes operability concerns and necessitates the use of numerous APIs to perform the same operation. A thorough management solution that fills APIs with the critical metadata required to make them accessible and consumable at every point of their lifespan is required for good governance.

Good API governance benefits both product users and developers by lowering the likelihood of downtime and error codes. A well-managed environment is a no-brainer for increasing user trust and building a positive reputation for your product. Low code management solutions are an easy approach for developers and businesses to consolidate their APIs, and they are the first step in creating a dependable digital ecosystem.

How Can API Security Best Practices in Governance Benefit You?

Today, the availability of data from hundreds of APIs is going to be critical to your business operations. This is a wonderful thing since they should be at the heart of every business. API governance allows you to handle them appropriately.

One of the most notable advantages of API governance is the simplicity with which the API-first architecture approach can be implemented in an organization. This method allows developers to easily add features and link their services with third-party apps. Leading with an API-first mentality in mind means that your API design is at the forefront of your API development lifecycle and that you’re including all relevant stakeholders in that design process from the start.

API governance is critical for successful pattern, blueprint, and template uniformity when creating that API design. Standardization, whether inside an organization or as an independent developer, helps to minimize complexity while enhancing reusability and creating more durable API designs. Consistency in your API design also leaves less room for error, security risk, and mistakes later on. Implementing strong API governance can easily make or break your API program as you continue to scale.

Before You Begin an API Governance Program

You must plan before you begin executing your API governance program. We recommend that you should use the following in your planning process:

Determine Your Objectives for API Security Best Practices

Before implementing governance, you must choose where your API program will go. Make an organizational chart that lists all of the stakeholders in the company. Determine who is in charge of developing APIs and keep track of their progress. In It should also highlight critical objectives such as digital transformation or the use of APIs as products to increase income

Make an API Catalog

Before implementing API governance, you must first create an inventory of all of your APIs, both existing and those that are still under development. Make a list of the APIs that each developer or team develops or maintains for both your internal and external APIs. When you don't know where all of your APIs are, it's easy to have redundant, inconsistent, or even faulty APIs. Some organizations may have an API directory in place, but it is not properly maintained. As a result, it becomes out of date or lacks some APIs. Increasing visibility and discoverability into your API program is the first step to be able to easily maintain your entire API program and enforce standardization from a high level.

Steps to Create an Effective API Governance Strategy

The methods below will assist developers in ensuring that their organization gets to enjoy these benefits for many years to come:

Establish API governance policies and procedures

As an organization's API environment becomes clear, executives may collaborate with identified stakeholders to create API governance policies for the whole API lifetime, as well as the methods that will be used to implement them. This necessitates a clear vision of the desired consequence of each policy, which will guarantee that it complements the broader corporate plan in a quantifiable way. Once in place, these rules and practices should be appropriately documented and widely distributed.

However, API security best practices and governance principles should never be deemed "final" since they must continually change to match the demands of teams and the company.

Provide assistance to teams

API governance developers should make themselves available to teams adopting API governance policies when they define and disseminate them. This might happen during design and coding. A supportive environment may assist team members in better understanding the policies, improving self-sufficiency, and promoting API governance as a distinguishing feature of an organization's culture. Be sure to include all relevant stakeholders and teams in this process so that the API design path is clear and the standards make sense for all who will be either designing, interacting with, or consuming the API.

Monitor the results

API governance is an iterative process that is unlikely to be flawless the first time. Governance developers could begin by creating some basic principles that will only apply to specific APIs or teams. They should then assess the effectiveness of these policies, identify areas for improvement, and iterate accordingly. developers will be able to improve their policies and broaden their influence with each iteration.

Best Practices for API Governance

Each organization has unique needs that require a tailored approach to API governance. Nonetheless, the critical practices listed below can assist in ensuring the success of any API governance strategy:

API Security Best Practices Start with Security guidelines

There are several resources available for API security best practices, but it is up to you to determine your individual requirements. In order to start, we suggest that the organization educate itself on common vulnerabilities and attacks, determine secure API design best practices, establish authentication and access management, ensure proper API inventory management, and implement governance across APIs.

API validation should be automated

API contracts, documentation, and monitoring are all duties that, as part of your broader API governance plan, may and should be automated. Include API validation as you construct your automation as another API security best practice.

Create a policy for versioning

Versioning enables developers to keep track of and maintain distinct versions of APIs, allowing the older version to be deprecated and replaced when an API is changed or enhanced. An effective deprecation strategy is critical for API users since it not only ensures that they are utilizing the most recent version but also accounts for API stability.

Tracking Matters

Another API security best practice is to look at how API governance can include tracking the many elements of an API. Track where APIs are deployed, who is using them, how they are utilized, routing information, and other API lifecycle components.

Establish style guidelines

Standardizing your API design principles guarantees that all of your organization's APIs are uniform. Establishing and enforcing style requirements for all your APIs will result in a speedier development process and improved API quality.

Get Governing!

API governance saves time and money by maintaining API consistency, allowing components to be reused, and ensuring APIs are proactively built to fulfill particular goals and add value to the company. API governance also helps organizations make informed API program decisions and develop best practices for designing, deploying, and consuming APIs. Neglecting some of these rules can have severe repercussions. Potential hazards include service deterioration, customer attrition, downtime, and outages. It’s clear that governance is a critical part of your API security best practices and the development lifecycle, and the sooner you can standardize across your entire API catalog, the better!

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