5 Security Risks of APIs that Companies Need to Address

APIs present a company with a plethora of exciting new opportunities, but they can also present unique risks to the organization. Organizations should take precautions before exposing their APIs to the public. The benefits of an API are obvious; it allows users access to company data and services through any compatible mobile device. However, not all APIs are created equally. Some may expose sensitive information to third parties without adequate safeguards in place, while others may be overly complex and difficult to use for external developers. This article looks at five risks that companies need to address when creating an API, as well as some best practices for mitigating these risks.

Anonymization risk

One of the biggest risks companies face with APIs is the possibility of leaking sensitive information. The most common risk an API presents is the potential for data to be accessed by unauthorized users. For example, if one company has access to another company’s customer database, they could extract all customer information and send it to a third party. Making sure that customers can keep their data confidential and secure is essential to mitigating this risk.

To avoid this risk altogether, companies should build robust authentication systems into their APIs so only authenticated users can access critical data. This would ensure that any user accessing an API would have to prove their identity in order to gain access to information stored on behalf of other companies or individuals.

Data Exposure Risk

Companies should take precautions to ensure data security when creating an API. Data exposure risk is the most likely risk that companies may face. Any company that has access to sensitive information (such as personal or financial) should take steps to protect it by implementing secure protocols, like encryption and authentication.

One way that companies can avoid data exposure risks is by using strong authentication on their APIs. Strong authentication allows users to identify themselves before accessing protected information, which limits the potential for unauthorized access. Once a user is authenticated, the company may provide access to some of its protected data based on request type, such as read-only or read-write permissions. A company could also use token-based authorization and/or sign requests in order to control access to individual pieces of data from a particular user’s device.

API complexity risk

Complexity is the enemy of security. Compounding this issue, APIs are often designed for internal use by a company’s employees, which means there is a high expectation for ease-of-use. This makes it difficult to find and fix potential security risks when an API becomes too complex or unwieldy.

In order to avoid these risks, companies need to make sure that their APIs are properly designed. Complexity in APIs can be combatted by developing clear documentation and establishing concrete standards for acceptable input parameters.

Access control risk

Access control is a major risk for any company that shares their data with third-party companies. This risk can be mitigated by creating a suite of tools, such as access tokens, to limit access to a company’s APIs. These tools should make it easier for an individual to provide the credentials they need to use the API securely.

Security misconfiguration risk

Security misconfiguration risk is a concern that results from the fact that some APIs are not properly protected and permissions may be unclear. If an API is exposed to public, it can be accessed by hackers and malicious actors. To protect against this risk, companies must make sure their APIs have adequate security measures put in place. These safeguards include:

  • Permissions – Companies need to clearly define who can access which pieces of information through the API. This will allow developers to know what they can and cannot do with the information they’re given access to.  • Authentication – Companies need to ensure that only authorized users have access to the API. This means using authentication methods like two-factor authentication or OAuth.
  • Authorization code – Companies should also establish an authorization code for any third parties who want use the API without requiring them to login with credentials (like the developer account). Allow third-party developers time frame and a way to pass along this code, so they can use it at a later date when their application is live on the app store. 
  • Monitoring – When building an API, companies should monitor requests made through it. If unexpected activity is detected, they should implement safeguards like rate limits and temporary suspensions of function until things cool down again.
  • Cross-domain restrictions – Companies should ensure that all external requests are restricted between domains if necessary (for example, if one domain handles customer data but another handles employee data). This ensures that requests cannot be made on behalf of other


One of the biggest risks to an organization when creating an API is that it poses a security risk. An API that exposes sensitive company data without adequate safeguards in place can lead to hackers stealing valuable information. This can also lead to potential litigation for the company if the information was breached in any way. In order to prevent these risks, companies should ensure that their APIs are properly secured by implementing encryption, securing login credentials, and hashing passwords before transmitting them over the network. Additionally, companies should consider how they will enforce access control with APIs. It’s important for developers to be able to control who they share their data with and what they do with it as well as how much access they want them to have. For example, if a developer only wants other developers or agencies working on a project within their agency or department, then those organizations could be given full access while only granting limited permissions elsewhere.

Another major risk is that of poor API support.  These APIs can be difficult to use due to complex authentication and authorization procedures or overly large responses from the API server, making them impractical and not worth the trouble. To avoid this issue, companies should encourage external developers through documentation, tutorials, and public forums for feedback and troubleshooting purposes so that customers understand what needs to happen at each step of using their API and can avoid potential errors along the way.

With regards to security risks associated with data storage, companies should ensure that their APIs are storing sensitive data securely to create protection against malicious

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