Can You Join The API Economy While Maintaining Top-Notch Security?

Eve Maler

If anything exemplifies the extended enterprise, it's the notion of the "API economy": Unlocking value in your organization's unique data and services by publishing open APIs (application programming interfaces) for access by third parties. As Laura Koetzle notes, business leaders today are prioritizing growth above all -- and fostering a third-party developer ecosystem is becoming a great way to boost revenue. Best Buy, eBay, and USA Today are examples of companies with APIs and external developer communities.

But, but, but...just how secure is an open API? Especially if you, the security professional, can't fully control these external developers' actions? This is where it gets exciting, because security and identity-based access control are enablers of these new business opportunities. After all, an API of this sort is essentially a digital product whose use must be metered.

Many organizations in this position are turning to the OAuth technology to solve a host of security challenges that arise from opening up APIs. I'm excited to be bringing the latest in OAuth business cases, adoption news, and recommendations to my Forrester Security Forum track session on "Securing And Identity-Enabling Monster Mashups." Hope to see you at the Forum November 9-10 in Miami!

(Got a great API security story, or maybe some questions? Don't wait till November; feel free to share in a comment here, or ping me on Twitter using the #FSF11 hashtag.)

In Cloud-Friendly Web Services Security, "There Is No Enterprise." Wait. What?

Eve Maler

“There is no enterprise — the work we do is a collection of people that dynamically changes through a mix of organization control.” That’s what I heard from one venerable old construction company while working on my new research report, Protecting Enterprise APIs With A Light Touch. I wanted to investigate how enterprises are using and securing lightweight RESTful web services, and in particular to figure out the problems for which OAuth is well suited. (You might recall my request for feedback in a prior post.)

 What I found was that forward-thinking enterprises of many types – not just hip-happenin’ Web 2.0 companies – are pushing service security and access management to the limit in environments that can truly be called “Zero Trust,” to use John Kindervag’s excellent formulation. This particular firm dynamically manipulates authorizations to control access to a variety of innovative lightweight APIs on which the whole company is being run, not actually distinguishing between “internal” and “external” users. They’ve kind of turned themselves inside-out.

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