Today, API security company Salt Security released the findings from its first industry-focused report on API security. The report, entitled ‘State of API Security for Financial Services and Insurance’, provides in-depth insight into significant API vulnerabilities and attacker activity within the finance and insurance industries.
The report combines empirical data from Salt customers and findings from two separate surveys to provide an in-depth analysis of the impact of API security threats and vulnerabilities on these industries. The report was compiled using data from their earlier Q1 2023 State of API Security Report, customer data, and the independent State of CISO 2023 survey, as well as vulnerability research from Salt Labs.
The results found that API attackers targeting financial services and insurance APIs have become increasingly active in the last 18 months, with a 244% increase in unique attackers between the first and second halves of last year. In addition, 92% of financial/insurance respondents say they have experienced a significant security issue in production APIs over the past year, and nearly one out of five have suffered an API security breach. Top findings include:
- 69% of financial services/insurance respondents say they have experienced rollout delays due to API security issues – 11% higher than the overall response average
- 84% of attacks against financial services/insurance sectors came from “authenticated” users who appeared legitimate but were actually attackers
- 71% of financial/insurance respondents say their existing tools are not very effective in preventing API attacks
- More than 25% of respondents say they have no current API strategy
- 17% of respondents have experienced an API-related security breach
Roey Eliyahu, CEO and co-founder of Salt Security, adds: “APIs are essential for the innovative digital services being delivered today by financial and insurance organizations. However, because these APIs transport sensitive customer and financial information, cyber criminals also know they share a wealth of data that can be leveraged for theft or fraud. The findings show these companies are suffering significant increases in attackers and other security issues, increasing their vulnerability to API-related incidents.”
API security breaches can cost businesses in fines, loss of customer trust, and reputational damage. Also costly are delays in application rollouts or rollbacks of new applications. Given the importance of digital services as a business driver in these industries, API security has become a critical issue, as highlighted by the following findings:
- 56% of financial services/insurance respondents say API security is now a C-level issue (8% higher versus the overall response average at 48%)
- 79% of financial services/insurance CISOs say that API security is a higher priority today than two years ago
- 76% of financial services/insurance CISOs say their organisations have made API security a planned priority over the next two years, with 13% saying it will be a critical priority
“Given the growing importance of APIs over the last several years for enabling modern businesses, it is surprising that API security has become mainstream only recently,” said Jeff Farinich, SVP technology and CISO at New American Funding. “The fact that security frameworks and regulations are slow to evolve is partly to blame, but I see hope on the horizon. The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), which usually takes years to issue a new mandate, in just one year explicitly called out APIs as a separate attack surface, requiring financial institutions to inventory, remediate, and secure API connections.”
Financial services/insurance respondents say they are not prepared or taking the right measures to protect APIs from threats:
- 28% of respondents – all with APIs running in production – say they have no current API strategy
- Just 13% of respondents consider their API security programs advanced
- 25% of respondents say their current API security strategy doesn’t focus enough time on documenting APIs
- Only 42% of respondents identify API security gaps during production/runtime, which is where actual attack activity occurs
- 42% of respondents have little confidence in understanding which APIs expose PII
Financial services/insurance respondents also cited outdated/zombie APIs as their number one API security concern at 48% – nearly 35% higher than second top API security concern cited, account takeover (ATO).
The full report can be read here.