3 Ways APIs Can Drive Your Zero Trust Strategy

Since the pandemic, cybercrime had increased significantly even when it came to government agencies. In fact, data breach incidents continue to increase by over 17% annually from fall 2020 to 2021. Government agencies are highly targeted due to their sensitive data.

Due to these situations, employing a top-notch API management platform is critical. Using APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) is very useful for computing data from various sources and platforms and orchestrating and automating tasks. With the support of vigorous API management tools, these APIs may also help agencies with zero trust security, which orchestration and automation tasks help push.

Governments have become high-value targets for cybercriminals due to the sensitive data they collect and legacy systems that increase their security exposure. However, emerging security approaches like zero trust can enable agencies to strengthen their defenses. Adopting an API-based integration strategy — supported by a robust API management solution — also can help agencies implement zero trust and develop a more proactive security posture. Here’s how.

What is Zero Trust?

Zero Trust is based on the principle of least privilege access. Zero trust is a structure that always guards a complex network’s security against internal and external threats. It is based on the concept of the least access to privilege. Only the authorized applications, systems, and users are permitted data access that is according to defined security policies and their role.

Due to the ever-evolving cybersecurity threats, even with the digital government, the traditional approach and perimeter-based security won’t work anymore to ensure protection.

With these serious situations, the use of APIs is growing because more and more organizations are realizing all of their benefits. Thus said, APIs can drive a zero trust strategy in three ways, which include the following.

3 Benefits of APIs for Zero Trust Implementation

APIs, or application programming interfaces, are modern systems that can exchange data more efficiently and securely. The technology allows external systems to talk to and securely exchange data with various systems of records, enabling agencies to leverage this underlying business logic for use in modern applications.

Adopting an API-based integration strategy is now critical for agencies because of the inherent risks associated with data integration. In recent years, automatic synchronization exchanges of data between systems has contributed to breaches, allowing hackers to easily capture and exfiltrate data from these point-to-point integrations.

API greatly reduces these risks by allowing a consuming application to only ask for the data it needs at the specific moment it requires it, which reduces network traffic because only the data that’s required is transferred at that moment. Additionally, APIs hide the internal details of how a specific system of record works and only expose parts of the system that are most relevant to the external system(s) requesting access.

As agencies move toward a zero trust model, API-based integration can drive their implementation in three key ways.

As agencies move toward a zero trust model, API-based integration can drive their implementation in three key ways:

Supporting Continuous Verification

Being an approach to authentication, continuous verification happens even once users are inside the network. This is crucial for the zero trust architecture. API gateway policies support continual verification. And with this, agencies can safely ensure top-notch security when an application, system, or user is authenticated before they can access the network.

Policies on an API security gateway help support continuous verification because a user, application or system must be authenticated before they can access a particular system of record. Their access is also restricted based on the security policies associated with that gateway. In this context, agencies can significantly reduce their security exposure because external systems and applications’ access to data within the network is as narrow as possible in scope.

Eliminating the Severe Span of an Attack

The second advantage of government API for zero trust includes limiting the severe span of an attack. This is especially true when it comes to insider threats.

Government system integrators must limit the potential attack as much as they can. So, while undergoing government digital transformation, a top-notch API will ensure the elimination of the severe attack span. When you connect IT, you can rest assured that your network won’t be harmed by batch-based extraction or vulnerable file scripts.

On the other hand, some APIs only have certain APIs or endpoints. Organizations may also produce more security policies to mask or redact the data in API calls.

In the event of a breach, any organization will want to limit their potential attack surface as much as possible. API-based integration serves this purpose because this approach doesn’t rely on more vulnerable file or batch-based extraction scripts. Instead, specific consumer applications only have access to specific APIs or endpoints. Agencies also can create additional security policies to redact or mask the data involved in API calls. Since internal users will only have access to certain data based on their role, API-based integration also can limit agencies’ security exposure if a rogue actor inside their organization attempts a malicious breach — or if an unsuspecting employee unwittingly causes a breach due to poor password security or by clicking a phishing link.

API-led integration approach, if a breach does happen, agencies can ensure only a minimum amount of their data is exposed, which can significantly mitigate the impact of a potential attack.

Offering Practical Security Intelligence

Offering Practical Security Intelligence

Before a breach, API-based integration can also help companies gather actionable intelligence and streamline data collection. Also, API gateways enforcing policies capture responses and requests that are in the interchange of data between systems.

In the event of a compromise, it provides a proactive audit trail agencies can use to assess the impact of a breach. API gateways that enforce policies also capture the  requests and responses involved in data exchanges between systems, which can be extremely useful later on when an agency is trying to determine what data moved between a consumer and a system of record — something that batch-oriented data synchronization scripts aren’t as equipped to do.

Moving to Zero Trust with APIs

Government agencies now deal with more data sprawl and complexity than ever before. At the same time, they also must contend with rising security threats.

In the current threat environment, it’s become vital for agencies to modernize their approach to security. Implementing zero trust strategies can help them accomplish this, but to enact this emerging security model, agencies must reassess how they integrate data. Adopting a comprehensive platform for API management that includes gateways for stronger policy enforcement, intrinsic security, the ability to extract business logic from legacy systems as well as modern systems — and offers a developer portal that allows system engineers to better understand an API’s functionality — will enable agencies to successfully implement zero trust and modernize with much less risk.

Conclusion
To ensure that you use a solid API system, it is vital to work with a highly trained, experienced, and proven professional. Software AG Government Solutions is the way to go. Headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, Software AG Government Solutions has been providing top-notch software and IT solutions for the local, state, and federal governments. And as a result of their work, Software AG Government Solutions has received tons of awards.

With Software AG Gov, you won’t go wrong. So, contact now!

Learn more about how API-led integration can drive your zero trust strategy by attending our upcoming webinar on June 9th, “How APIs Can Bolster Zero Trust Strategies.”

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