API Management: Tomorrow’s superhero today

Mild-mannered API Management might just be the superhero that saves the app-enabled future from all sorts of catastrophes.

I recently noticed an old trade show giveaway on a colleague’s desk – a cardboard cutout figure called API Defender (pictured above), which was used to promote CA’s API Management products. API Defender was fun and a bit retro, like something you’d cut off the back of a cereal box as a kid. But he got me thinking about the hidden power of API Management – something you don’t normally see but which many rely on to keep valuable information assets safe.

Actually, most superheroes – in the movies, at least – are retro. Think of how the Christopher Reeve-era Superman films harked back to old adventure serials. And today’s superhero flicks mostly refer back to the style and content of those dark, gritty re-imaginings of classic comic book heroes that started hitting the newsstands a few years after Reeve hung up his blue tights for good (like Batman: The Dark Knight Returns or Watchmen, which became a movie in 2009).

A new hero for the app age

So, it turns out that the oh-so-edgy Batman of recent years is just a throwback to the late 80s. Where does leave our goofy little API Defender? Well, as it happens – just like Clark Kent in his thick-rimmed glasses and ill-fitting suit – there may be more to API Defender than meets the eye. You see, the future of how we live our lives is being driven by online connectivity and online connectivity is being driven by the application programming interface (API).

But there’s a dark side to this brave new world. While APIs allow the dynamic integrations needed to create powerful mobile apps and connect all manner of connected devices across the Internet of Things (IoT), they also potentially open up a whole host of technological vulnerabilities for digital supervillains to exploit. Right now, many organizations are using APIs with little regard for these risks – but the risks are all too real!

The perils of the connected metropolis

Many organizations now use APIs to open their backend systems and data for reuse in Web and mobile apps. If the APIs are not properly protected, this provides new ways in for hackers and other bad guys. But it’s when you start to look at IoT that things get really scary. This API Academy blog post includes examples of actual, real-world IoT hacks that sound like implausible plot devices from Hollywood movies.

Though a year old, that blog post makes API Defender start to seem a lot less retro and whole lot less silly. With the app economy exploding and IoT proliferating, the security provided by API Management products is going to play a leading role in keeping us safe and secure and in protecting our privacy. So, the next time I pass API Defender, I won’t chuckle to myself the way I used to – because that little guy might just be the real superhero of the future.

Sam Macklin is a Marketing Communications Analyst at CA Technologies and the API Academy, specializing…


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