Seven Guidelines for API Security in a Digitized Supply Chain Network

Safeguarding your extended supply chain

Enterprises use Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to connect services and to transfer data between applications and machines. API’s offer significant opportunities for integration and improved scaling. However, API attacks have become more frequent and more complex, making them the number one threat for any company especially when exposing them to your extended supply chain.

For Enterprise Architects and CIOs, protecting sensitive supply chain, financial, and product-related data about the products that are being bought, sold, and moved through the supply chain network are reaching criticality. At the same time, the quantity and sensitivity of the data transmitted have increased relative to demand and supply fulfillment requirements.

Your supply chain network consisting of customers, logistics service providers, suppliers, and IoT devices are connecting to third-party applications for data such as ERP systems for product and order status, weather and risk conditions, transportation management systems for shipment status, GPS and other monitoring signals to name a few.

In a digitized supply chain network, for an order fulfillment process, APIs can be used by customers when they place the original purchase order and get confirmation of availability from a supplier system as a customer order. APIs can then be used to arrange transportation and shipment criteria with logistics service providers and then again for the tracking of the shipment using GPS data. This GPS data is typically provided by another data service provider. If the manufacturer needs to replenish raw materials from a supplier, the purchase order of requirements can be transmitted now through APIs. In the end, invoices and payment data with banking and relevant parties can be communicated through APIs.

Therefore, managing the security of the data and the management of APIs is critical to your extended enterprise architecture and the organization’s supply chain.

To ensure the security of your network, follow the 7 guidelines below.

  1. Inventory: CIOs and Enterprise Architects should know where their APIs are located and how they contribute to business processes. Risk assessments help to identify weaknesses. Perimeter analyses and consultations with the development and operations team support this process and allow us to capture the hackers’ perspective.
  2. Authenticate: API authentication is one of the most important points for the security of interfaces. Access authorizations that are not clearly regulated are literally the key to the system. Therefore, the credentials used must be stored in a secure way, be it in the form of encrypted user/password combinations or API keys.
  3. Authorize: No API should be able to pass unchecked or unvalidated input to applications. Otherwise, they are exposed to injection attacks without protection. API credentials should be assigned according to the principle of least privilege. Role-based access control should at least restrict HTTP methods that can be implemented by certain roles. In addition, sequences of actions can be defined that correspond to the specific API use case.
  4. Logging: All API connections should be logged and checked, regardless of their result and behavior. The resources provided by the APIs should also be monitored.
  5. Encrypt: In addition to encrypting all web traffic and services, organizations should also encrypt APIs and connections – and validate certificates.
  6. Use of security tools: With an “API-enabled” web application firewall, requests can be checked, validated, and blocked in case of attack. Some API security services can analyze the original client and determine whether a request is legitimate or malicious. They can also ensure that API requests stay where they belong.
  7. Testing: Keeping APIs up to date requires permanent testing. It is also recommended to provide a premium on the discovery of API vulnerabilities and to use the findings of security researchers.

The leader in API connectivity for Digital Supply Chain Networks is Elemica. Organizations can no longer ignore the related security problems and should address them as part of their enterprise architecture.