Table of Content

Cybersecurity Frameworks

Key Management Interoperability Protocol

What is an API?

API

Application Programming Interface (API) is a software intermediatory which allows two separate applications to communicate with each other. These two applications might be totally different and are built using two different languages but can communicate in a defined format that both understand. Everything we play a video on YouTube or stream music, we are essentially using an API for this purpose.

When a client communicates with a server or a different application to retrieve information that can be shown to a user, the communication happens via an intermediatory, which is often an API. An API makes it possible to exchange information between an application and the server or for two separate applications to exchange information.

Does API provide more security?

API never exposes a server to the application or vice versa. API carries the request from the client, and the server processes that request and sends the information accordingly. API also carries some rules which make only the necessary information with a certain format viable. If the format is not fulfilled or all necessary information isn’t provided, then API may fail to carry back any relevant information, which can reduce data exposure or other such attacks.
Most companies provide paid API for other developers to use. API such as stripe can provide developers with the tools to quickly develop an app with a payment gateway by using stripe’s API. Google, eBay, and Amazon also expose such APIs, which can generate revenue for the company without being a security risk.

Features of an API

API provides some characteristics and features which make it more developer-friendly, secure, and accessible throughout the web. Some of them include:

  • APIs adhere to strict standards (such as HTTP, Rest, or GraphQL), which makes API developer-friendly, and easily understood by many.
  • API are treated as mini-applications or products and is targeted towards web or mobile developers. APIs are usually well documented and are versioned and updated. API developers also listen to the community and keep updating, maintaining the API throughout its lifecycle.
  • API do carry heavier security, governance over the access of the service. There are API keys associated which are required to access the API. APIs are also monitored and managed, as well as scaled according to the performance being monitored.

How Does API work?

To understand how APIs work, let’s take a simple example like paying for something online using a third-party system, like Apple Pay. When you click the “Pay with Apple Pay” button on an online store, it’s like making a special request through an API.

This request, which includes information about your purchase, travels from the website to the external system through the API. It’s like the website is asking the external system to do something for it.

The external system then processes this request and sends back the necessary information to the website through the API. The website gets the information it needs to complete the payment.

Even though you don’t see it, this communication happens behind the scenes, inside the computer or application. It’s like a secret conversation between the website and the external system, making it look like a smooth and seamless process for the user.

What are the important parts of APIs ?

  1. Endpoints

    Think of an API endpoint like a specific web address. It’s where you go to get something specific. For example, if you want to know the weather for your city, you’d visit a weather website’s endpoint dedicated to showing weather info for your location.

  2. Methods

    APIs are like a menu with different options. These options are called methods, telling you what you can do with the requested information. For instance, you can “GET” data to retrieve it, “POST” data to create something new, “PUT” data to update it, or “DELETE” data to remove it. Methods are like the different actions you can take with the menu items.

  3. Request and Response

    When one computer program wants to get information or do something with another program through an API, it sends a request. The receiving program processes the request and responds with the information or action you requested. This communication between programs is what APIs are all about.

What are some API Protocols?

API protocols are sets of rules and conventions that dictate how different software components or systems communicate with each other through an Application Programming Interface (API). These protocols define the methods and standards for data exchange, ensuring consistency and interoperability between the client (requesting system) and the server (providing system).

  1. SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol)

    This uses XML to let different parts of a computer system send and get information through email (SMTP) and the web (HTTP). SOAP makes it simpler for apps or software from different places or written in different languages to share information.

  2. XML-RPC (XML-Remote Procedure Call)

    This is an older protocol that uses a specific kind of XML format to move data around. It’s simpler and uses less internet space compared to SOAP.

  3. JSON-RPC

    This is like XML-RPC, but instead of using XML, it uses JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) to move data.

  4. REST (Representational State Transfer)

    REST is a set of principles for how web APIs should work. APIs that follow these principles are called RESTful APIs. While you can make RESTful APIs using SOAP, these two are usually seen as competing ways of doing things.

In the past, when people said “API,” they were usually talking about a way for different parts of a computer program to talk to each other, usually in low-level languages like Javascript. But now, modern APIs follow REST principles and use the JSON format. They are typically made for the web, making them easy for developers to use in languages like Java, Ruby, Python, and many others.

Conclusion

In conclusion, APIs facilitate seamless communication and data exchange between applications, enabling innovation, efficiency, and enhanced user experiences. As technology advances, APIs will remain a fundamental building block of the interconnected digital world, powering the apps and services we rely on daily.

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