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API Discovery

Table of Contents

What is API discovery?

API discovery is the process of finding Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) created inside your organization or locating public APIs in order to access functionality provided by other software systems. APIs are sets of protocols, routines, and tools for building software and applications. They provide a way for different systems to communicate with each other and exchange data and functionality.

Inside an organization, API discovery is an important first step on the road to implementing API security. In simplistic terms, you can only protect the APIs that your organization creates and uses if you first know that they exist. Many organizations do not have an inventory of all the APIs they created or use. These undiscovered APIs are sometimes called Shadow APIs. This blind spot is a problem because if you do not know how many APIs your organization has, you also don’t know if they have vulnerabilities or if they are being abused by malicious users.

In security programs, API discovery is the process of creating an inventory of your organization’s APIs. Best practices for API discovery are to be both comprehensive and continuous. Comprehensive discovery is to examine all the API activity data no matter where it resides inside and organization. This can be by accessing API activity data from popular technologies like API gateways, CDNs, Load balancers, Web app firewalls to name a few. API discovery must also be continuously happening around the clock. Every day, new APIs are deployed or altered and API discovery must catch those new deployments and provide security. API security platforms like Neosec perform API discovery as a standard feature.

How to discover public APIs available to use in your organization?

API discovery involves identifying the APIs that are available for use, understanding their capabilities and limitations, and determining how to integrate them into your own system or application. This process can be facilitated by the use of API directories and marketplace platforms, which provide listings and documentation for APIs from a variety of providers.

API discovery can be an important part of the development process for software and applications, as it allows developers to leverage the capabilities of existing systems and build more complex and feature-rich solutions. It can also be useful for organizations that want to integrate their own systems with those of their partners or customers, or expose their own APIs for others to use.

One common way to discover APIs is through the use of API directories, which are websites that maintain listings of APIs and provide documentation and other resources to help developers understand and use them. These directories may be organized by category, such as financial services or healthcare, or they may be more general in nature. Some directories also allow developers to search for APIs based on specific criteria, such as language support or pricing model.

In addition to directories, there are also API marketplaces, which are platforms that allow developers to discover, purchase, and manage APIs from a variety of providers. These marketplaces may offer a wider range of APIs, including both free and paid options, and may also provide tools and services for developers to use in building and deploying their applications.

In order to find and use APIs effectively, developers typically need to understand the specific requirements and specifications of the APIs they are interested in. This may include understanding the input and output formats for the API, as well as any authentication or authorization requirements. Some APIs may also have specific limitations or usage quotas that developers need to be aware of.

Once developers have identified the APIs they want to use, they typically need to integrate them into their own systems or applications. This process can involve writing code to make API calls and handle the response data, as well as configuring any necessary authentication or authorization credentials. It may also involve setting up testing and deployment environments and integrating the APIs into the overall application architecture.

API discovery can be a complex process, especially for developers who are new to working with APIs or who are unfamiliar with the specific technologies and protocols involved. However, with the right tools and resources, it is possible to find and use APIs effectively to build more powerful and feature-rich applications.

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