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Ask the Experts: Understanding the API Context Maturity Model – Level 1 – Authenticated API Calls

BY: MAYUR UPADHYAYA AND JAMIE BECKLAND

Welcome back to ‘Ask the Experts: Understanding the API Context Maturity Model.’ In our first post of the series, we explored the foundation of the model: Open, Public API calls. Now, we will move up a rung on the ladder to Level 1 – Authenticated API calls. As a reminder, we are distilling key comments from the hundreds of technology leaders we consulted to develop the Context Maturity Model, and we are sharing their thoughts anonymously to give you the most unfiltered view of the current state of APIs.

As organizations become more aware of the inherent security risks associated with entirely open APIs, they begin to implement authentication measures. API calls at Level 1 require valid credentials, adding a basic layer of security and control over who can access the API.

Drawing from our expert interviews, a CIO from a healthcare tech firm shared their experiences navigating Level 1. They remarked, “The addition of authentication measures provided a much-needed layer of security. It marked our first step towards a more secure API environment, but it quickly became clear that authentication alone was not enough.”

While authenticated API calls significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access, they do not provide granular access control, i.e., what specific data or functions a particular user can access. Therefore, while Level 1 improves upon the openness of Level 0, it still poses limitations.

An executive from a data scaleup echoed this sentiment. They stated, “Despite implementing authentication, we still faced incidents where users could access more data than necessary. The issue was not about who could access our API but about what they could access once they were in.”

It’s important to note that these limitations aren’t indicative of any failing at Level 1. Instead, they highlight the incremental nature of the API Context Maturity Model. Each level is a step forward, addressing limitations of the previous level while setting the stage for more advanced practices.

Join us for our next installment where we’ll delve into Level 2 – Authorized API Calls – where we will discuss how organizations can enhance their security measures by controlling not just who can access the API, but also what they can access.

As always, if you’re looking for more insights on API security and best practices, we’re here to help. Until next time!

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