Securing APIs at the Speed of DevOps

In the 2021 State of DevOps Report, 83% of IT decision-makers told Puppet that their organizations were in the process of implementing DevOps practices to improve the quality of their software, the speed of their delivery and the security of their systems. Those DevOps organizations varied in their stages of evolution, however. For example, respondents in the middle stages of their journey that culture blocks such as reported responsibilities and in sufficient feedback loops were making it for them to continue their DevOps journeys and join the ranks of high-evolution organizations. Such obstacles help to explain why 97% of high-evolution organizations had already applied automation to their competitive tasks compared to just two-thirds of mid-level and a quarter of low-evolution teams.

The Importance of APIs to DevOps

The prevalence of automation ties into the importance of application programming interfaces (APIs) for any organization’s DevOps journey. In the words of IBM, an API “enables companies to open up their applications’ data and functionality to external third-party developers, business partners and internal departments with their companies.” APIs, therefore, enable the services and products of different companies to communicate with one another in a way that streamlines and/or augments functionality for the user.

That said, users aren’t the only ones who benefit from APIs. DevOps teams do, too. Many of these team members deal with automated processes as part of their daily tasks, so they need APIs that can help them to deploy and configure their. APIs can also help DevOps teams gain detailed information about an app during runtime. DevOps staff can use these insights to proactively address issues before they lead to disruption.

Security Obstacles of APIs and DevOps

Despite their benefits, APIs and DevOps aren’t without their security challenges. Contemporary Computer Services, Inc. (CCSI) identified several security hurdles that organizations may encounter along their DevOps journeys. These include the following:

A fast development process: DevOps introduces a faster speed of software delivery. In their efforts to keep up with this demand, developers might make coding mistakes that leave applications vulnerable to attack. Absent a timely security review, those vulnerable products and services might make it into production, granting attackers an opportunity to exploit the flaws and to try to access affected customers’ digital assets.

Poor collaboration: No DevOps journey will succeed without collaboration between development and operations. When there’s a lack of joint processes, these teams may stick to their silos. This way of working may leave security gaps if development and operations aren’t communicating about the management of their credentials, tokens, SSH keys and other secrets, for example.

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