API Discovery Made Simple

Nov 28, 2023
5 minutes
811 views

Real-time APIs will execute more than 50% of all B2B transactions by the end of 2023,1 according to projections from the research firm, Gartner®. In addition to marking a pivotal shift in how organizations interact, the prevalence of APIs — already driving the majority of web traffic — underscores the need for rigorous API security. The dilemma for security teams lies in the proliferation of APIs, which is outpacing the capabilities of management tools. Experts predict, in fact, that less than half of enterprise APIs will be under effective management by 2025.2

Without question, APIs unlock remarkable opportunities for business integration and efficiency. Powering everything from mobile apps to connected devices to real-time data exchange, APIs form the core of modern digital infrastructure.

Maximizing Potential, Minimizing Risks

But APIs evolve quickly and prove elusive when it comes to security, in that they’re scattered and difficult to track. What’s more, they introduce risks that scale with their growth. Amid the rise of microservices architectures, organizations rate APIs as the element most susceptible to attack — rightly so, given that most cybersecurity incidents tied to the cloud-native stack stem from insecure APIs.3

Experts predict that less than half of enterprise APIs will be under effective management by 2025.

Gartner reports that security inquiries from clients have risen 33%,4 demonstrating concern for this much-targeted attack surface. Among security teams supporting rapid deployment cycles, the pace of application changes makes it near impossible to compile a comprehensive API inventory. Organizations are left to grapple with all-important questions they can’t readily answer.

  • What APIs do we have in our environment?
  • Which applications are they associated with?
  • How can we effectively discover newly deployed APIs? Inactive APIs? Unauthorized or rogue APIs?
  • Which APIs are inherently most risky? Which APIs have sensitive data?
  • Are our security measures for high-risk APIs appropriate, effective?
  • Are we experiencing ongoing incidents? Are attackers targeting our critical APIs?
  • How can we enhance API protection?

High-profile data breaches spotlight the vulnerabilities inherent in API endpoints, reminding us that our security strategies must outmatch the agility of APIs. A proactive defense against threats starts with building a culture that anticipates risks and prevents breaches. Foremost, it solves API discovery issues and achieves risk assessment and prevention.

Standalone tools providing a partial view of the environment lack the context to fully reveal the risks of insecure APIs. Organizations need an API security solution that empowers teams to discover, manage, configure, monitor and safeguard their APIs — ultimately minimizing risk to preserve the integrity of their digital infrastructure.

Prisma Cloud's Solution to API Challenges

Palo Alto Networks Darwin release of Prisma Cloud revolutionizes the approach to API security by managing API security alongside all other cloud assets. Users gain continuous API discovery as part of our CNAPP offering, requiring no special onboarding or configuration.

Visibility

Security teams need a simple yet effective way to discover the attack surface and evaluate API-associated risks. Evaluation must occur automatically and continuously, detecting APIs as they become exposed across various workloads and services.

Prisma Cloud’s API endpoint inventory
Figure 1: Prisma Cloud’s API endpoint inventory

Our goal with this release of Prisma Cloud is to provide users with an understanding of every application and service while facilitating conversations with development teams and saving time for both security and development.

The API inventory offers an overview of discovered APIs with risk factors that include internet exposure, sensitive data exposure, lack of authentication and malicious activity.

View of API endpoint showing sensitive data, body schema and malicious activity
Figure 2: View of API endpoint showing sensitive data, body schema and malicious activity

In addition to the inventory view, Prisma Cloud provides an in-depth briefing for each endpoint, offering detailed insights into message schema, end-user clients, sensitive user-provided data and sensitive server-provided data. Visibility is achievable through agentless and agent-based deployment options.

Attack Path Detection for Better Risk Prioritization

Prisma Cloud delivers contextualized and prioritized attack path alerts, combining multiple signals across exposure, vulnerability, data risks and identity. This holistic approach enables users to effectively prioritize which risks to address first, ensuring they can promptly mitigate the most urgent threats.

Identifying potential attack paths in Prisma Cloud extends beyond misconfigurations, offering a robust risk assessment that integrates malicious incidents and exploitation attempts.

Prisma Cloud’s attack path evidence graph
Figure 3: Prisma Cloud’s attack path evidence graph

The platform’s attack path alert includes API-related incidents, such as web attacks, bot activities and web scraping. Armed with this context and understanding, security teams can prioritize critical risks.

Forward-Thinking Vision and the Road Ahead

Organizations are deploying APIs faster than they can secure them, leaving security teams to play catch-up. Security leaders must prioritize API security, implementing strategies that recognize APIs' pivotal role in the digital ecosystem. The challenge, as discussed, is multifaceted — the volume of APIs, the dynamism, the complexity of securing them, each a potential vector for attack.

Diligent oversight and robust protection are required, and Prisma Cloud, representing a significant step forward in API security, provides the continuous visibility, context and prioritization needed to protect the vital gateways of your digital infrastructure.

Learn More

To learn about Prisma Cloud's latest innovations, tune in to our on-demand virtual event, CNAPP Supercharged: A Radically New Approach to Cloud Security, where we’ll show you how to streamline app lifecycle protection.

And if you haven’t tried Prisma Cloud, take it for a test drive with a free 30-day Prisma Cloud trial.

 

References

  1. “Predicts 2022: APIs Demand Improved Security and Management.” n.d. Gartner. https://www.gartner.com/en/documents/4009103.
  2. ibid
  3. “2023 API Security Data in New Report.” n.d. Start.paloaltonetworks.com. Accessed November 8, 2023. https://start.paloaltonetworks.com/2023-api-security-data-in-new-report.html.
  4. “Predicts 2022: APIs Demand Improved Security and Management.” n.d. Gartner. https://www.gartner.com/en/documents/4009103.

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