APIs (or Application Programming Interfaces) are a fundamental part of how modern technology works with deep significance for IT security. In basic terms, they are a set of protocols that govern how one application (i.e. piece of software) talks to other applications. APIs allow programs to share data and work together, providing integration between different pieces of software and hardware.
There is a significant link between IT security and APIs, both positive and negative. Although APIs are a requirement for all modern computing, they also represent a potential security problem. In any situation where data is being shared, there is the potential for cyber criminals to target that data.
However, APIs also represent an opportunity to improve cyber security, allowing security software to communicate faster and more efficiently to identify and share information on newly emerging cyber threats.
It is therefore vital for businesses to understand the link between IT security and APIs. This involves understanding exactly how they work, how it impacts their IT security and what to expect in the future from this area of technology.
How APIs Work
APIs allow applications to share information and integrate with each other and lets programs take action on each other’s behalf. This can be as simple as allowing your web browser to access an email host, such as Gmail, or much more complicated.
APIs also allow the creation of app ecosystems. This is where a popular app, such as Instagram, allows third-party developers to create apps which work with the main app to, theoretically at least, add value for users.
When implemented well, APIs allow an application to be more widely used and allow users more freedom about how they interact with the app. They can also make applications better by allowing them to access more information and letting third-party developers add functionality through their own subsidiary apps.
However, APIs also create the potential for an increasing number of internet security threats, which mean API security is a subject that has to be taken very seriously.
The Effect Of APIs On Internet Security
One of the key issues caused by APIs for internet security is that they create a lot more potential openings for hackers. If a program is isolated and does not connect to third-party apps, then hackers have to target the program itself to steal data or affect the programs operation.
However, if a program is sharing data with multiple other programs through its API, then all of those other programs then create potential points of entry for hackers. Instead of having one single route in, they could now have dozens or even hundreds and many of these third-party apps may have significantly weaker security that the main application.
One high profile example was the 2015 breach of the US Inland Revenue Service’s Get Transcript API which allowed hackers to steal sensitive tax information about over 100,000 people. The information that allowed the hackers to get through the API’s security was taken from third-party sources, rendering the Get Transcript API’s security vulnerable.
However, while APIs and the application ecosystems they enable can create security threats, they also open up the possibility for new ways for security programs to work together, offering the potential for smarter, more efficient and effective cyber security moving forward.
What The Future Holds For APIs
As well as offering potential opportunities for hackers, APIs also present a potential solution to cyber security threats. By automating the sharing of information between different security programs, APIs can allow information about new threats to be spread faster, helping make the cybersphere as a whole safer.
Information sharing via APIs also makes it faster and easier for developers to create new security apps offering additional functionality as they do not need to collect their own data of cyber threats, they can simply connect to existing apps and share their data.
This approach can hopefully help to start building an IT security ecosystem where threats are identified and protected against faster and more widely, while also allowing new apps to reach the market faster, creating a more proactive cyber security industry.
In turn, this should offer better security for all users, giving them more options for protecting their data and systems. It should also allow better integration between different applications, making it easier for users to control multiple security programs, giving them deeper and more effective security.
Get Expert Support With IT Security And APIs For Your Business
Keeping your business’s and your clients’ data safe is critical for any law firm, so it’s important to be absolutely sure that the software and hardware you use does not contain exploitable security flaws due to insecure APIs.
City Business Solutions are experts in outsourced IT security to the legal industry and know exactly what to look for when it comes to API security and a whole host of other common and not-so-common issues. We help dozens of law firms with IT security and APIs and much more beside.
So, if you want to take advantage of industry-leading IT support staff in a cost-effective way for your law firm, we would love to hear from you.
To find out more about how City Business Solutions can help keep your law firm safe and secure from a whole range of cyber security threats, please get in touch.