November 9, 2021

How to Perform an API Risk Assessment

API Lifecycle Management

Performing an API risk assessment can put you on the path to improved security. But it’s important to move past one-and-done thinking.


According to Salt security reporting, malicious API traffic has grown nearly 350% in the last six months alone. Yes, you read that right. While this may send some of us into a security tailspin, there’s good news too.

With attention to your team’s security practices, performance testing, and responsibilities, you can get ahead of malicious attacks, malware, and other security threats.

Let’s dive into the top tips for performing an API risk assessment.

Check Your API Configurations

According to recent IBM research, improperly configured APIs account for two-thirds of cloud breaches.

Could it be so simple? All we need to do is configure APIs appropriately? Yes and no. Because not all configurations are like flipping a switch. On the other hand, there are ways to simplify the process.

For example – at Akana, we encourage clients to create API recipes. These make documentation easy to consume for target developers to ensure they will configure APIs appropriately. Additionally, our API policy templates are easy to customize and attach within your API portal.

Akana product expert Olaf Van Gorp explains in greater detail below:


Investigate API Security Role Breakdowns

Configurations lead us to a deeper team structure issue. In their research, Salt security found deep divides surrounding who should own security. 52% of respondents felt that API security should rest with developers, DevOps, or the API team.

This is problematic. Are developers and DevOps teams security experts? No. In fact, if you ask ten developers how they secure an API, you might get a range of answers. It’s no surprise then that configurations are the source of so many breaches. Again, developers are great at building APIs. But they’re not interested in policies, configurations, and other administrative tasks.

So again, who should own security?

Your API management platform.

With dozens or even hundreds of APIs to grapple with, data breaches will only continue if you rely on developers to secure APIs. Instead, you can:

  • Manage API security policies from a central API management platform.
  • Empower API administrators to manage these policies.
  • Utilize API monitoring and analytics to set thresholds and alerts.

Investigate OWASP Top 10 Security Risks

The OWASP Top 10 Vulnerabilities list was developed by API security experts worldwide. So this is the perfect starting place for your API risk assessment. As you begin evaluating your API programs for risk, consider examining:

Read Full List

Implement API Security Testing

What is API testing? In short, it ensures your APIs perform the way they should. The most important step in any API risk assessment is your security testing. At some point, you need to kick the tires and find out where your weaknesses are. Even better, hire white hat hackers who can attempt to break into your APIs in a controlled fashion.

There are a variety of tools available for API security testing. To start with, use those available within your API management suite. With Akana, you can utilize our Test Client (non-live environment) to test security policies like OAuth, Jose, and HTTP. This gives your team data on how your API will perform when fully released.

Other security testing frameworks to consider using:

How to Use Postman to Test APIs

Note that not all API management software can easily incorporate the above testing applications. We pride ourselves at Akana on our platform-agnostic approach. In addition to our own Test Client, we can integrate a variety of testing tools with Akana’s suite.

Assess Risk With API Analytics and Monitoring

As we briefly mentioned above, API analytics and monitoring capabilities are key to API risk assessment. Many API security testing software can help you discern whether your systems are holding up against external threats. But they only tell you how your APIs are performing at that moment.

On the other hand, API analytics and monitoring allow you to continually monitor API security. You can even set thresholds and alerts so you’re notified the instant a threat hits your APIs.

API analytics and monitoring can help you:

  • Accelerate actionable insights through visual dashboards.
  • Set and view security metrics, operational API analytics, developer portal and marketplace metrics, as well as business and marketing metrics.
  • Keep tabs on systems and applications that your APIs are built on top of.
  • Monitor third party APIs that your organization consumes any outside threats.

Reduce API Risk With Akana

Whether you’re just getting started with APIs or you’re well on your way, Akana offers comprehensive security and risk mitigation features. In fact, we were recently recognized as a leading security API management platform by KuppingerCole. Akana’s platform can help your team:

  • Assess full lifecyle API management risk.
  • Quickly implement the right security policies to protect your APIs.
  • Utilize analytics and monitoring software to stop malicious attacks in their tracks.
  • Reduce time-to-market with API automation.
  • Enable innovation by eliminating manual processes associated with legacy APIs.
  • Support API adoption with a top-notch API marketplace and developer portal.

The Akana API platform offers everything you need to succeed in today’s competitive technology marketplace. Start a free trial to see for yourself how Akana can change the game with your API management.

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