API Endpoint: Definition and Best Practices

reviewed by Matt Law
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Businesses in almost every industry use or have used an API endpoint at some point in time. APIs help organizations become more efficient and productive by supporting their digital transformation processes. This overview will define what an API endpoint is and provide some best practices to help you ensure that your IT environment remains safe and secure.

What is an API endpoint?

Although APIs and endpoints are two separate and different concepts, there is such a thing as an API endpoint. An API endpoint is a digital location, or point of entry, that an API uses to connect with a software program. The easiest way to understand this concept is to define what an API is and what an endpoint is separately.

What is an API?

An API (application programming interface) is a code, or set of rules, that allows two software programs to connect and communicate with each other. Essentially, this connection acts as a translator and allows an application to share its data with outside users. As Hubspot explains, “An API enables you to take ‘their stuff’ and make it work with ‘your stuff.’ Their stuff, in this case, is located at the API endpoint.” With an API, organizations can connect two applications together.

What is an endpoint?

An endpoint is an electronic device or remote unit that is connected to a network and allows APIs to connect two software programs. Endpoints are often thought of as the “entryways” or “doorways” to data and applications, so they’re at a high risk for malicious activity. Organizations keep endpoints and their information secure via endpoint management.

How an API endpoint works

An API endpoint provides a location for APIs to send requests for information and receive responses. There are two categories of APIs that endpoints interact with often, and they are called SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and REST (Representational State Transfer). SOAP is a protocol that allows the exchange of information in XML format, and REST is a set of protocols that allows the exchange of information in URL format.

Why businesses choose to use API endpoints

There are many multiple advantages that businesses gain by using APIs and API endpoints. By connecting two software programs together without the need for creation or interference from developers, APIs encourage and support IT automation, IT efficiency, innovation, and integration. In addition, APIs help businesses save costs since they do not need to develop applications themselves. They can simply rely on the API to provide the necessary features of an app.

Top security risks for API endpoints

Even with proper endpoint security, API endpoints can still create security threats. Some of the top API security risks are:

Easy data access

APIs make it all too easy for cybercriminals to access a business’s data. APIs give access to data via software programs, and sometimes, they even provide confidential information. Hackers can use APIs to get their hands on data, which is something businesses want to avoid at all costs.

Reduced security measures

Unfortunately, organizations often don’t prioritize and secure APIs as much as they do with endpoints. These reduced security measures make it easy for cybercriminals to attack through this channel.

Insufficient authorization

Although APIs usually have some authorization measures in place, such as keys or passwords, they do not provide sufficient security and user validation to ensure the safety of organizational data.

4 examples of API endpoint authorization methods

  • API key

An API key is a line of characters that only an API and its users will know. A user will need to enter the key in order to receive information from the API and endpoint.

  • TLS

TLS, or Transport Layer Security, is a protocol that authenticates the connection between a server and user, or in this case, both applications from the API.

  • OAuth protocol

OAuth is a security protocol that uses tokens to authenticate and authorize users to access an API. It’s usually used for REST APIs, and it reduces the need to provide (and risk revealing) authorization data, such as confidential passwords.

  • User credentials

APIs can use basic user credentials, such as usernames and passwords, that users set up with the API service. However, user credentials alone are usually not enough to secure an API.

Best practices for API endpoint management

If you want to connect to an API via an endpoint, you’ll need to have a reliable endpoint security system in place. Here are some best practices you can follow to secure your endpoints before using an API:

  • Adopt a zero-trust framework

A zero-trust framework is based on the concept of trusting no applications or programs at first, then adding trust-worthy applications or programs. This model focuses on reducing user errors and improving user security.

  • Monitor and manage endpoints

Since you use endpoints to access APIs, it’s important to monitor and manage your devices. There are various monitoring and management solutions on the market that will significantly strengthen your endpoint security.

  • Encrypt and protect data

Because data is more valuable than gold for most organizations, it’s important to keep it safe when using APIs. Set up a data protection plan and always encrypt critical or confidential information.

  • Implement authentication measures

Double or multi factor authentication is always the best choice when it comes to securing endpoints and protecting APIs. As previously stated, some common authentication measures include OAuth tokens, API keys, user credentials, and TLS.

  • Make security a priority

Unfortunately, security is often overlooked when it comes to APIs. Make endpoint and API security a priority to ensure the safety of your data and devices.

Manage endpoints with NinjaOne’s API

At NinjaOne, we provide our own Ninja API that our clients are able to use at any time. If you are a NinjaOne client and have all your endpoint devices enrolled in Ninja, you can monitor and manage them via API in a third-party application. Essentially, anything you do in the NinjaOne tool you can also do via the API. To learn more about NinjaOne and how our endpoint monitoring and management solutions help you secure your IT environment, start a free trial today.

Next Steps

Building an efficient and effective IT team requires a centralized solution that acts as your core service deliver tool. NinjaOne enables IT teams to monitor, manage, secure, and support all their devices, wherever they are, without the need for complex on-premises infrastructure.

Learn more about Ninja Endpoint Management, check out a live tour, or start your free trial of the NinjaOne platform.

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