Possible Drawbacks of Using APIs from unreliable sources

Merve Sarpkaya
Merve Sarpkaya 26 September 2020
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APIs have undeniable benefits and facilities but nothing good comes easy, as APIs come with certain drawbacks, too. Here are certain negative aspects that might hurt your business and customers thus you should consider before integrating an API.

Application programming interfaces (API) have been transforming the way we use technology in the modern world. By providing an integration between two separate services, they offer countless benefits for both developers and customers. APIs offer easy-to-use development structures and accelerate certain processes on various levels. They undeniably increase productivity and boost business growth. Marketing strategies also come into play in consideration of using multiple APIs to access a broader audience and increase the brand awareness. Moreover, they change the experience of end-users by facilitating communication between services in various aspects of technology as in booking, social media, navigation and so on.

Drawbacks of using an API

However, APIs have certain drawbacks and potential risks for you and your customers. They may turn into hurtful tools for your business by bringing out some problems in support, operations and security. They may increase the possibility of certain software problems. Furthermore, using APIs in your operations may pose a security threat by creating a convenient atmosphere for hacker activities.

Support

Problems in Support

First thing to consider while planning to use APIs in your business is that it creates a relationship that certainly affects the data management, operations and security procedures of two individual parties. When you integrate an API into your service, you fundamentally change the way it functions. Consequently, carrying out such a joint operation increases the possibility of certain crises. Each business needs to establish these connections with the others in accordance with its own ecosystem and internal concerns so that the operations run smoothly and systematically. From the beginning of the integration process to the support & maintenance phase of APIs, it is crucial for you - as a customer - to be well informed and supported by the provider about the procedures of integration, operations and documentation as well as the terms of use and protocols regarding the data regulations of that particular region. Losing technical support after a limited period of time would end up with a considerable amount of time and resource waste for the customer. All in all, in order to avoid such crises, the relationship between the API provider and the customer should be dynamic to keep up with each other and more importantly be based on mutual trust and cooperation.

Problems in Operations

APIs consist of codes which are the property of the provider company; therefore, the customers have access only to the interface and the user experience. Since you may not fully access - unless it’s open source - to the source code, or aware of the data format (JSON, XML, etc.), the authentication mechanisms (basic, API token, etc), and further essential information; make sure that certain input/output attributions you require should be provided to increase your knowledge on that API to function properly. Furthermore, the API should be well suited for your unique structure of business and further updates for the next development phases should be of the same concern.

Operations

Using an API in your business is a long-term contract with the provider; so that the convenience and dynamic relationship between the code structures of each service should be one of the major concerns. However, broadly speaking, it's the customer's responsibility to manage these processes and stay up-to-date with the provider’s terms of use and operations. An API functions like a driving force in your business, for this reason it must be well-greased and updated properly without damaging the entire system.

API Security

Problems in Security

APIs create a large number of transactions between different agents, so they create a mass amount of online traffic. Since too many cooks spoil the stew, such increased traffic and possible ignorance of regulation on data transactions may present an important threat to the customer and its end-users’ private data by opening a back-door for hackers. Information regarding the private accounts, photos and mostly the credit card numbers can be stolen and used for arbitrary and malignant purposes. Cross-site scripting (XSS) and SQL Injection (SQLi) are some examples of the methods used by hackers to steal information from API customers. With all three pillars of this partnership - the provider, the customer and the end-user - it is quite a long haul to build up an embracing and comprehensive security protocol. The security and protection of the customer’s data is at the hands of the provider and it requires a strong communication between the parties, and of course a dynamic and collaborative approach, to keep the private data of the customers secure and safe.

Last Words

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Merve Sarpkaya
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Merve Sarpkaya

An IT enthusiast domestic translator crawling into details.