How Exposing Your API Creates Vulnerability Without End-to-End Data Encryption
Article notes: The critical importance of end-to-end data encryption at rest and during transit, and how you can get it: This article should discuss why ANY entity that stores consumer data, patient files, federal or state government information, or any other proprietary data needs data encryption at every level to avoid cloud hacking and stop keystrokers with nefarious intentions from breaching. Anybody can log into Mint.com and connect their bank account. The receiving party really is getting a lot of trust here. Look at Equifax hack.
Your application program interface (API) is the part of your server that receives requests and sends back responses through browsers like Firefox, Chrome, or Safari. When someone enters “www.amazon.com” into Chrome to shop, their request is viewed by Amazon’s API, which responds by displaying Amazon’s homepage content in Chrome. But, for small- to medium-sized businesses that don't have high-power server security or an army of IT warriors looking out for their APIs 24/7/365, they’re easily exposed by hackers.
Even for highly adept IT security pros, creating secure APIs to maintain safeguarded infrastructures resilient against viruses, malware, and cyberattacks isn’t done in a relaxed fashion. Security best practices suggest end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for data in transit or at rest are superior methods for maintaining secure APIs and servers—especially if your APIs offer services to end-users outside your network. After all, who are the users you’re allowing to use your API?
E2EE for Data in Transit: Protecting APIs That Offer Services to Consumers
If your API allows out-of-network users to sign into your website, access chat, or shop, data being transferred between end-points should be encrypted. Sending data without encryption is like sending personal bills or files from your doctor’s office to archenemies to help them unravel your life. When you use E2EE for data in transit, you’re shielding it against eavesdroppers and other hackers. They don’t have bad intentions for you personally like archenemies in the previous analogy do, but they have power to hurt hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people, depending on the size of your business.
E2EE helps ensure information moving from one end—your server's API—to another end—any client, customer, patient, or other user with login credentials requires a key to see messages, emails, chats, or shopping sessions. Various E2EE systems use different forms of encryption, including:
Cryptographic keys: available only to users for decryption
One-time-use cryptographic privacy requiring authentication from data consumers derived unique key per transaction (DUKPT) for encryption of every new transaction
E2EE for Data at Rest: Protecting Proprietary Information Within Your Infrastructure
E2EE for at-rest data staves off security breaches you hear about on the news by ensuring that even data in latent or unfulfilled state wherever it’s stored. This means no one but the parties at end-points can cipher data when not in use, which in-transit E2EE doesn't protect against. The best at-rest data encryption system is one that encrypts at both end-points, whether a consumer or other user type is aware their saved transmissions are encrypted or not. Data encrypted while at rest is extremely difficult for intruders to decode.
Never Use Private or Direct Messaging on Social Platforms from Within Your Company Infrastructure
Some popular online platforms utilize at rest encryption, and others don’t. Social media messengers will encrypt information, decrypt it while at rest, then encrypt again when it’s transmitted. This is unsafe for business practice, and social media networks should not be used by any business of any size for messaging for this reason.
Final Takeaways: Pairing In-Transit and At-Rest E2EE is the Safest Method for All
Coupling end-to-end encryption for data in transit and at rest is by far the best way to protect proprietary company data while also securing consumer (or other end-point user) data. The key question you have to ask as a company owner or manager is, “Who am I giving access to internal company data?” As long as you secure servers and APIs through E2EE for both in-transit and at-rest data, and don’t use public messaging platforms, your company and user data remains far safer than using one type of encryption—or worse yet, none at all. For patient, consumer, or private government data, E2EE encryption that requires ever-changing keys for any new transactions for data at-rest and in-transit is the best way to ensure information isn’t compromised on either end—most importantly, the end of your venture’s API and server.