Unlocking prosperity: Credit unions embrace APIs amidst rising cybersecurity challenges

In today’s fast-paced financial landscape, credit unions are harnessing the power of APIs to revolutionize member experiences. These technological marvels are not just about enhancing operational efficiency; they represent a pivotal shift in how credit unions engage with their members. Let’s delve into a real-life scenario to see how APIs are transforming member interactions and setting the stage for a brighter financial future.

Imagine a credit union member, Sarah, on her way to catch a flight. She suddenly realizes that she didn’t receive the funds her friend had promised her to cover an unexpected expense. In the past, this might have meant postponing her travel plans or making a frantic call to her credit union to move funds around.

However, thanks to APIs, Sarah now has a seamless solution at her fingertips. After a quick reminder text, her friend sends the funds instantaneously via a new money transfer app made possible by APIs. With a few taps on her mobile banking app, she initiates the fund transfer from her savings to checking account. Again, the API orchestrates the transaction swiftly, confirming the transfer within seconds. Sarah’s travel plans remain intact, and she experiences minimal disruption, all thanks to the convenience and accessibility that APIs bring to her financial life.

Unfortunately, the widespread adoption of APIs has made them a prime target for criminal organizations looking to take advantage of new security vulnerabilities. In light of recent reports highlighting the substantial financial impact of API vulnerabilities, it’s no surprise that credit union cyber security professionals are increasingly concerned about safeguarding against these risks.

In this article, we’ll explore how credit unions can better navigate the cybersecurity challenges that come with API-driven technological transformation through three crucial steps, including details around what solutions to consider.

Step 1: Inventorying comprehensive APIs

To bolster your credit union’s cybersecurity strategy, the first vital step is to construct a comprehensive inventory encompassing all known APIs, along with their respective endpoints and expected operations, including the associated HTTP methods. This meticulously compiled inventory will serve as the foundational cornerstone upon which to craft an impactful security policy, dedicated to safeguarding your credit union’s APIs from potential threats.

Step 2: Discovering shadow APIs

The next step is identifying shadow APIs (aka zombie APIs) which are often hidden within the depths of a credit union’s application landscape. These clandestine APIs operate beyond the confines of established management and security protocols, making them enticing targets for malicious actors. Whether they dwell in obscurity as undocumented APIs or exist as third-party APIs beyond your sphere of control, they remain invisible to your security infrastructure, left exposed and vulnerable.

The gravity of this threat is underscored by their inclusion in the OWASP API Security project under API9:2019 Improper Assets Management. The imperative task at hand involves unearthing, cataloging, and fortifying these concealed APIs, an endeavor of paramount significance in safeguarding your organization against potential risks.

Step 3: Automating API protection

The final crucial step for credit union cybersecurity professionals is to implement the right API security solution that can streamline the process of identifying APIs, while also automatically preventing unwanted API traffic, and continually monitoring for unusual activities. A comprehensive approach combined with the right tools can offer invaluable insights, including:

  • A breakdown of the most frequently targeted APIs based on the percentage of attacks see example here.
  • Identification of the most critical sensitive data types at risk.
  • A detailed analysis of total API calls, segmented by response code.
  • Insights into the APIs with the highest activity levels.

Consolidated views including the above can equip your team to swiftly pinpoint potential vulnerabilities, prioritize remediation tasks, and make data-driven decisions to enhance the overall security posture of your credit union’s APIs.

Safeguarding APIs to protect data and member trust

In a rapidly evolving threat landscape, staying one step ahead is no longer a choice but a necessity. The proactive measures discussed in this article provide a framework for safeguarding your organization’s digital assets, preserving the trust of your members, and maintaining regulatory compliance.

By harnessing the power of comprehensive API discovery and mapping, adeptly blocking unauthorized access, and leveraging advanced data protection mechanisms, you not only bolster your cybersecurity defenses but also empower your credit union to thrive in an era where data security and privacy are paramount.

Learn more about the challenges of API security here.

Chad Davis

Chad Davis

Chad Davis is Industry Sr Solutions Marketing Manager, F5 Networks, which is the leader in app security and multi-cloud management. He can be reached at c.davis@f5.com. Web: https://www.f5.com Details