APIs and the Software Supply Chain: What you need to know

The software supply chain is a concept that refers to the processes and technologies used to manage software products over their lifespan. It’s a network of entities involved in the development, distribution, and provisioning of software and is a critical aspect of any industry. 


As more and more organizations embrace cloud-native architectures and a microservices approach to building software, APIs have evolved from being a conduit of communication between systems to becoming a de facto standard for system integration, including in the components of a software supply chain.


APIs are an integral part of modern software supply chain processes

APIs have become a central part of digital transformation, enabling enterprises to modernize their businesses. An API is an application programming interface that enables software components to communicate with each other. They are used by external partners who want to access enterprise resources (e.g., software vendors) and are a way for businesses to take advantage of the software supply chain. 


They allow different companies and developers to work together to create one cohesive product or service that can be accessed by multiple people in different places. APIs are important because they allow you to leverage your data and software assets, which helps you grow your business. For example, they connect internal stakeholders responsible for managing enterprise data and information (e.g., IT organizations) with the employees and partners who need access to that data and information.


They also help connect existing business apps or legacy systems with cloud services and emerging architectures like microservices or serverless. The API layer is built on top of microservices, which are small units of code that perform specific tasks within your application. Microservices can be thought of as discrete parts that work together as part of one whole system. For example: if you have three different components—a service component responsible for managing user authentication information; an analytics component used for reporting analytics data back into the main application; and frontend UI services—you’re using microservices because each one performs its function but also relies on the others for certain operations.


But as digital transformation makes APIs even more critical to enterprise success, securing and managing those APIs has become a top concern for organizations.


APIs are vulnerable

In an API-driven world, companies are exposing their data to third parties and opening themselves up to security risks.


The software supply chain has become a major concern for organizations. This is because software supply chains are not just a production process, but also a complex distribution process and often involves many different participants. The evolution of software development over the last several years has not only accelerated but also fundamentally changed the process. As noted by Forbes, “There’s a huge rise in speed and velocity of change in the last five years. We are moving towards a future or even a present already that has way more moving parts. Suddenly application security is not only about your code—it’s also about containers, and third party, and open source, and APIs that are talking to each other. Everything out there is somehow connected in all of these small building blocks, and what we see is that the attackers are moving towards it.”


The use of APIs is crucial in this process, as they provide a way for one company to communicate with another company to get the information that is required. However, these APIs are also a potential point of vulnerability as they can be hacked into and used by malicious actors.


APIs are vulnerable to unauthorized use, injection attacks, and malicious actors who impersonate legitimate users through social engineering tactics or other means. The year 2021 saw 95% of organizations record API security incidents while Gartner predicts that by 2025, 45% of enterprises will have suffered attacks on their software supply chains.


Organizations need both governance and security for the software supply chain especially as teams increasingly embrace agile methodologies within DevOps environments.


API management is a key part of DevOps

To mitigate software supply chain concerns, companies need to have an understanding of where their data is being stored and how it is being transmitted between parties. It is also important for the company to have a clear understanding of what the API does and how it interacts with other parts of its system.


One of the best ways to mitigate software supply chain concerns is by having a solid API management strategy in place. This will ensure that the company has full control over its data and can protect it from third-party access.


A good API management strategy will help ensure that your business and customers can thrive by providing the right information to all customers, developers, and anybody else involved in the software supply chain. 


Software supply chains need to be secured from far more than just internal threats

 Supply chain risks can be mitigated by adopting a secure API-first approach, which ensures that all data is encrypted and all API traffic is authenticated.


A secure API-first approach ensures that all data is encrypted and authenticated, data integrity is protected, and application security vulnerabilities are eliminated through the use of strong encryption algorithms.


The API economy is now a thriving ecosystem

The API economy is a new way to think about software. It’s not just about building new apps and using them (though that’s still important). The API economy is really about the business model behind all this, what it means for how we build software and consume software, how we build our supply chains around these technologies, and ultimately how we consume those same technologies ourselves.



As we’ve seen, APIs are a key part of software supply chains and they play a critical role in modernizing business processes. The best way to ensure that your organization is secure, compliant, and ready for the future is by investing in an API management platform that can help you manage both the security of your APIs and their overall health.

Author Bio:

John Iwuozor is a freelance tech writer with proven expertise in the tech niche. This includes Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing (NLP), Computer Vision, Image Recognition, IoT, Programming Languages, SaaS, and Cybersecurity. He is also a regular writer at Bora

John is a guest blogger. All opinions are his own.

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