Application programming interfaces (APIs) allow applications to communicate, interoperate, and share information with one another. APIs have been mainstays at companies like Google, Salesforce, and other smaller but innovative organizations
for decades. Now, they’re also common in the public sector, with a wide range of agencies actively using hundreds of APIs
Understanding how applications and their corresponding APIs operate—the devices they run on and the traffic they accommodate—can make a dramatic difference in being able to recognize the anomalous activity, including malicious traffic or potential intruders.
Let’s look at how agencies can take an API-first approach to network management and how doing so can bolster network security and performance.
What Is an API-First Approach?
In an “API-first” approach, the interface is created before the application. This gives you better control over the API’s security and performance.
Traditionally, applications—like websites and mobile apps—have been developed first, with connecting interfaces added on later. But this bolted-on approach can result in an insecure and not appropriately optimized API. The API may not work properly with the application, which could result in exposure to security vulnerabilities and performance issues.
Conversely, developing the API first allows you to intimately understand and “know” the API right from the beginning. Throughout production, you can build it, test it, make sure it’s secure, and ensure it functions as advertised.
An API-first approach to network management allows the exchange of information at a deeper level—including device and configuration information, which can enhance the purview of your network management tool kit. This adds the ability to far more quickly and easily document and correct deviations from agency standards.
As the world becomes increasingly connected, some might argue APIs are becoming even more important than their complementary applications. Taking an API-first approach can provide you with better control and visibility into APIs themselves. You’ll be able to find and address security and performance concerns prior to deployment and have a better understanding of what to look for after the API is live, keeping your APIs, applications, and networks safe and running smoothly.
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