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Mitigating API Security Risks in the Digital Transformation Era

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) play a critical role in digital transformation by efficiently enabling data exchange between applications and databases. According to the State of API Security in 2024 Report by Imperva, a Thales company, API calls accounted for 71% of internet traffic in 2023. This fact alone should be alarming for security professionals. Despite implementing shift-left frameworks and SDLC processes, APIs often get deployed without proper cataloging, authentication, or auditing, resulting in security . On average, organizations have around 613 API endpoints in production. This number rapidly increases as businesses strive to deliver digital services to their customers faster. However, these APIs can become vulnerable and pose a significant risk to organizations. According to a Marsh McLennan Cyber Risk Analytics Center study, API-related security incidents cost global businesses up to $75 billion annually.

In 2023, the banking and online retail industries reported the highest volumes of API calls as they rely heavily on APIs to deliver digital services to their customers. As a result, these industries were also the primary targets of API-related attacks. One of the most common attack vectors is Account Takeover (ATO), where cybercriminals in API authentication processes to gain unauthorized access to accounts. Nearly half of all ATO attacks targeted API endpoints in 2023, and malicious bots often carried out these attacks. The consequences of such attacks can be severe, ranging from customer account lockouts, data breaches, and revenue loss to non-compliance, making ATO a significant business risk for financial institutions.

The challenge of mitigating API security risks is compounded by the fast pace of and the lack of mature tools and processes to facilitate collaboration between and security teams. As a result, almost 10% of APIs are vulnerable to attacks due to improper deprecation, lack of monitoring, or inadequate authentication controls. Imperva's report identifies three standard mismanaged API endpoints, highlighting the need for more effective measures to secure APIs. Organizations must prioritize API security and implement robust measures to safeguard their digital assets from ever-increasing API-related attacks.

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