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Know the security risks of CPaaS and communication APIs

Learn how your data may be at risk when deploying CPaaS and communication APIs and how to protect your organization from potential data security risks.

The rise of communications platform as a service, or CPaaS, has many organizations migrating from on-premises communications to cloud platforms and APIs. CPaaS and APIs offer benefits including improved productivity and third-party app integrations, but they also come with data security risks.

Before migrating, your organization needs to consider the risk-to-benefit ratio of CPaaS and communication APIs and come up with a plan to protect communications from any potential security risks.

What are the benefits of communication APIs?

Communication APIs offer context to communications that can optimize employee workflows and organize information within a single platform. Bringing communications capabilities to the platforms employees work with can streamline workflows by eliminating the need to toggle between apps.

Organizations have a few options when looking to improve workflows with API integration. The first is simplifying the user interface to create a simple working environment. The second option is to use APIs to create a customized user interface.

The customizability of APIs enables organizations to create a platform with all the necessary functions to support their specific needs and to optimize employee workflows.

What data security risks do communication APIs and CPaaS create?

Open APIs can leave your data exposed, leaving them vulnerable to attack. Exposed credentials can lead to unwanted access to the API infrastructure, making data leaks a possibility.

For example, Facebook experienced a data leak when its APIs were exploited, which compromised user information. Most enterprises, however, won't have the level of open API access that caused the Facebook data breach.

API abuse is another possibility if credentials are stolen. Depending on the stolen credentials' level of access, abuse can be as simple as using the company budget for personal gain or as dangerous as completely locking you out of your company's API and CPaaS systems.

Unsecured code can spell disaster, just as choosing a vendor with poor security can leave you vulnerable to data security risks.

How can I protect my APIs and cloud communications?

At the end of the day, access is everything. The simplest step you can take to secure your communication APIs is to define user roles and grant levels of authorization and access based on those roles. Keeping access granular will help prevent people from having access to unnecessary data.

Another safeguard is to have an audit trail. Assuming you have set up levels of access and roles for users, an audit trail will show you who is accessing an API and how. From there, you can track any unusual activity spikes and trace them back to a user to head off larger security threats. Similarly, it may be worth setting rate limits. You can use defined roles to limit how fast and how often users can call APIs to limit data harvesting.

Lastly, check with your CPaaS or the provider of your communication APIs to see what level of encryption it offers. Most providers will offer data encryption at rest, but data encryption in motion is just as important.

This was last published in February 2019

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