Representational State Transfer or REST for short is an architectural style for creating web services. REST is quite popular since it is simple to use and it also builds upon existing features and systems of the Internet’s Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to achieve its goals, as opposed to creating new frameworks, technologies, and standards.
API is an acronym for Application Programming Interface and it represents a set of defined methods of communication between different software parts.
REST API Security is a Growing Concern
As our world gets more connected by Internet connections, there is an increased need to build secure networks. APIs continue to be one of the key business strategies in various industries, and it does not look like it will be gone soon. The number of APIs listed is around 50.000, while the number of private ones is more than the number of public APIs. That is a lot of information and data passing over the web – and some of it might be quite sensitive. So, why is API security still not widely implemented? In this article, you will be able to read about the design principles and the best practices for securing your REST APIs.
REST Security Design Principles
In the text below, you will be able to read about eight design principles for securing your data in PC systems. These principles include:
1. Least Privilege – an individual should have the required set of permissions to do an action for which they are authorized. Permissions can be added or revoked when no longer in use.
2. Fail-Safe Defaults – a user’s default access level to any data in the system need to be “denied” unless they have permission.
3. The economy of Mechanism – the design should be quite simple, all the component interfaces and interaction between each other should be simple to use and understand.
4. Complete Mediation – a system needs to validate access to all resources to make sure that they are allowed to access it.
5. Open Design – this principle states the importance of creating a system in an open manner, without confidential algorithms.
6. Separation of Privilege – allowing people to access data should not be based on one condition, but a combination of conditions based on the resource type.
7. Least Common Mechanism – this concerns the risk of sharing state between components. If one gets corrupted, it can corrupt other components as well.
8. Psychological Acceptability – what this means is that the security mechanisms should not make data more difficult to access than if the security mechanisms are not present. In short, security should not make the user’s experience worse.
Best Practices to Secure REST APIs
1. Keep it Simple – you should entirely secure your API. Keep in mind that every time you make a solution more difficult, you are most likely leaving a hole as well.
2. Always Use HTTPS – by using SSL, the authentication credentials can be more simplified to randomly generate an access token that is delivered by the username of the HTTPS Basic Auth. It is simple to use and you will get a lot of free security features.
3. Use Password Hash – according to the experts from RestCase, passwords always need to be hashed in order to protect the system even if someone tried to hack it. There is a wide range of hashing algorithms you can use and which are all effective for password security.
4. Never Expose Information on URLs – passwords, usernames, tokens, and API keys should never appear in the URL since it can be captured in the server logs, which makes them more exploitable.
5. Input Parameter Validation – you should validate request parameters at the very first step, especially before it reaches the application logic. Implement strong validation check and reject any if the validation fails.
The things mentioned above are some of the most important REST API principles and practices. By following the things in the article, you can gain a better experience and secure REST API service that will provide you with a lot of benefits in the future.