When creating and delivering a RESTful API, security should be taken into account. The security of web APIs is concerned with data transit over APIs that are connected to the internet. REST (Representational State Transfer) or SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) are the most common API implementations (Simple Object Access Protocol).
HTTP and Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption are supported by REST APIs. TLS is an internet security standard that verifies that data delivered between two systems (a server and a server, or a server and a client) is encrypted and unaltered. The URL of a TLS-protected website starts with “HTTPS” (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure).
Web Services Security is a built-in protocol used by SOAP APIs (WS Security). These protocols lay out a set of guidelines based on confidentiality and authentication. The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) and the World Wide Web Consortium both have SOAP APIs that support their respective standards (W3C). To verify authentication and authorisation, they employ a combination of XML encryption, XML signatures, and SAML tokens. SOAP APIs are lauded for having more extensive security protections in general, although they require more monitoring. SOAP APIs are suggested for enterprises that handle sensitive data for these reasons.
Two Levels of REST API Security
Because a web API exposes an interface to a web application, you must consider security on two levels: API access and application access.
You’ll need adequate authentication, authorization, access privileges, and so on at the API level to ensure that only authorized clients may use the interface and only authorized activities are performed.
On the application level, make sure your application endpoints (the URLs used to access the interface) aren’t vulnerable to attacks that go around or bypass the interface.
Ways to Secure RESTful API
There are a variety of techniques to secure a RESTful API, such as basic authentication, OAuth, and so on, but one thing is certain: RESTful APIs should be stateless, which means request authentication/authorization should not rely on cookies or sessions. Instead, each API request should include authentication credentials that must be confirmed on the server for each request.
Best Practices to Secure REST API’s
- Keep it Simple: Every time you “unnecessarily” complicate the solution, you’re likely to leave a hole. As a result, keep things as simple as possible.
- Always Use HTTPS: Authentication credentials can be reduced to a randomly generated access token by always utilizing SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). The token is delivered in the HTTP Basic Auth username field. You can even send several queries over a single connection if you utilize HTTP 2 to boost efficiency.
- Use a Password Hash: Passwords must always be hashed in order to safeguard the system, even if it is hacked.
- Usernames, passwords, session tokens, and API keys should never be included in URLs, as this information can be collected in web server logs.
- Consider OAuth 2.0: it allows a third-party application to get limited access to an HTTP service on behalf of a resource owner by coordinating an approved interaction between the resource owner and the HTTP service, or by permitting the third-party program to obtain access on its behalf.
- Consider Including a Timestamp in Your Request: If you include a timestamp as an HTTP custom header in your API requests, the server will compare the current timestamp to the request timestamp and only accept the request if it is within a suitable timeframe (1-2 minutes, perhaps).
- Validation of request parameters: Before reaching application logic, validate request parameters in the initial phase.
Transport Layer Security (TLS)
TLS, like its predecessor SSL, is a cryptographic protocol that ensures the security of communications over a computer network. The protocol is widely used in applications such as email, instant messaging, and voice over IP, but its use in HTTPS as the security layer is the most noticeable.
TLS encryption can aid in the protection of online applications against data breaches and other types of assaults. Furthermore, TLS-protected HTTPS is increasingly becoming the norm for websites. The Google Chrome browser, for example, is cracking down on non-HTTPS sites, and regular Internet users are becoming more suspicious of websites that lack the HTTPS padlock sign.
The TLS protocol achieves three key goals: encryption (to protect data from other parties), authentication (to verify that the parties exchanging information are who they say they are), and integrity (to ensure that the parties exchanging information are who they say they are) (verifies that the data has not been forged or tampered with).
TLS grew from the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption standard, which was created by Netscape. TLS version 1.0 was originally known as SSL version 3.1, but the protocol’s name was changed before it was published to signify that it was no longer affiliated with Netscape. TLS and SSL are occasionally used interchangeably as a result of this history.
HTTPS is a TLS encryption implementation built on top of the HTTP protocol, which is used by all websites and some web services. As a result, any website that employs HTTPS is using TLS encryption.
HTTPS is a TLS-enabled version of the HTTP protocol that is used by all websites and some web services. TLS encryption can be found on any website that employs HTTPS.
- Because symmetric cryptography is used to encrypt the data exchanged, the connection is private (or secure).
- These symmetric encryption’s keys are created uniquely for each connection and are based on a shared secret agreed upon at the start of the session.
- Using public-key cryptography, the communicating parties’ identities may be verified.
- Because each message sent contains a message integrity check utilizing a message authentication code to avoid undetected data loss or tampering during transmission, the connection maintains integrity.