In the event your organisation is managing the API, you shall want to manage the authorisation server.

In the event your organisation is managing the API, you shall want to manage the authorisation server.

Use application-level authorisation if you’d like to control which applications can access your API, but not which end that is specific. This is suitable if you want to use rate limiting, auditing, or billing functionality. Application-level authorisation may not be suitable for APIs holding personal or sensitive data unless you truly trust your consumers, for instance. another government department.

We advice using OAuth 2.0, the open authorisation framework (specifically utilizing the Client Credentials grant type). This service gives each registered application an OAuth2 Bearer Token, and this can be used to make API requests regarding the application’s own behalf.

To present user-level authorisation

Use user-level authorisation if you’d like to control which end users can access your API. It is ideal for working with personal or data that are sensitive.

For instance, OAuth 2.0 is a authorisation that is popular in government, specifically with the Authorisation Code grant type. Use OAuth 2.0 Scopes for more access control that is granular.

OpenID Connect (OIDC), which builds along with OAuth2, using its use of JSON Web Token (JWT), may be suitable in some instances, for example a federated system.

For whitelisting and privacy

Use whitelisting if you need your API to be permanently or temporarily private, for instance to perform a private beta. You can whitelist per application or per user.

You ought not to whitelist the IP addresses of this APIs you consume. It is because APIs can be provided Content that is using Delivery

Networks (CDNs) and load that is scalable, which count on flexible, rapid allocation of IP addresses and sharing. Rather than whitelisting, an HTTPS should be used by you egress proxy.

choose the right frequency that is refresh expiry period for the user access tokens – failure to refresh access tokens regularly can lead to vulnerabilities

let your users to revoke authority

Invalidate an access token yourselves and force a reissue if there is a good reason to suspect a token has been compromised.

use time-based one-time passwords (TOTP) for additional security on APIs with application-level authorisation

use multi-factor authentication (MFA) and identity verification (IV) for additional security on APIs with user-level authorisation

make sure the tokens you provide have the narrowest permissions possible (narrowing the permissions means there’s a far lower risk to your API in the event that tokens are lost by users or compromised)

Your API security is only as effective as your day-to-day security processes.

Monitor APIs for unusual behaviour just like you’d closely monitor any website. Search for changes in IP addresses or users APIs that is using at times during the your day. See the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) guidance to find out how exactly to implement a monitoring strategy in addition to specifics of how to monitor the security status of networks and systems type my paper.

All API naming in URLs (including the name of one’s API, namespaces and resources) should:

use nouns in the place of verbs

be short, simple and easy clearly understandable

be human-guessable, avoiding technical or terms that are specialist possible

use hyphens in place of underscores as word separators for multiword names

For instance: api-name.api.gov.uk .

Generally, all of your APIs must have its domain that is own as each service possesses its own domain. This will also avoid API sprawl and simplify your versioning.

Across them, such as common management, authentication and security approaches, you may need to consider if you provide multiple APIs and you have a business case that means you’ll deploy common services:

providing all of them from the same domain

differentiating them through the use of namespaces.

The namespace should reflect the event of government being offered by this API. Namespaces might be singular or plural, with regards to the situation.

Sub-resources must appear underneath the resource they relate genuinely to, but should go a maximum of three deep, as an example: /resource/id/sub-resource/id/sub-sub-resource .

If you reach a 3rd amount of granularity (sub-sub-resource), you need to review your resource construction to see if it is actually a variety of multiple first or second level resources.

You should use path parameters to spot a resource that is specific resources. As an example, /users/1 .

You ought to only allow query strings to be utilized in GET requests for filtering the values returned from an resource that is individual for example /users?state=active or /users?page=2 .

You must never use query strings in GET requests for identification purposes, as an example, avoid using the query string /users? >.

Query strings should not be utilized for defining the behaviour of your API, for instance /users?action=getUser& >.

When iterating your API to include new or improved functionality, you really need to minimise disruption for your users so that they usually do not incur unnecessary costs.

To minimise disruption for users, you need to:

make backwards compatible changes where possible – specify parsers ignore properties they don’t expect or understand to make sure changes are backwards compatible (this permits you to add fields to update functionality without requiring changes into the client application)

make a new endpoint available for significant changes

provide notices for deprecated endpoints

New endpoints do not always need certainly to accompany functionality that is new they still maintain backward compatibility

When you really need to make a backwards incompatible change you should consider:

incrementing a version number when you look at the URL or even the HTTP header (focus on /v1/ and increment with whole numbers)

supporting both old and new endpoints in parallel for a time that is suitable before discontinuing the old one

telling users of your API how to validate data, for example, let them know when a field will not be there so that they can be sure their validation rules will treat that field as optional

Sometimes you’ll need to make a more substantial change and simplify a complex object structure by folding data from multiple objects together. In cases like this, make a object that is new at a new endpoint, for example:

Combine data about users and accounts from:

/v1/users/123 and /v1/accounts/123

Set clear API deprecation policies so you’re not supporting client that is old forever.

State how users that are long to upgrade, and how you’ll notify them of the deadlines. As an example, at GDS, we usually contact developers directly but we also announce deprecation in HTTP responses using a ‘Warning’ header.

Your API consumers may wish to test their application against your API before each goes live. Then you do not necessarily need to provide a test service if you have a read only API.

Give them a test service (sometimes known as a sandbox).

The cost of doing this if your API has complex or stateful behaviour, consider providing a test service that mimics the live service as much as possible, but bear in mind.

In the event the API requires authorisation, as an example using OAuth 2.0, need that is you’ll include this in your test service or provide multiple levels of a test service.

To assist you decide what to produce, do user research – pose a question to your API consumers what a test that is sufficient would look like.

You ought to provide your development team using the ability to test thoroughly your API using sample test data, if applicable. Testing your API must not involve production that is using and production data.

For highly cacheable open data access APIs, a well-configured Content Delivery Network (CDN) may possibly provide sufficient scalability.

For APIs that don’t have those characteristics, you should set quota expectations for your users in terms of rate and capacity available. Start small, based on user needs, and react to requests to increase capacity by making sure your API can meet with the quotas you have got set.

Make certain users can test thoroughly your API that is full up the quotas you have set.

Enforce the quotas you have set, even when you have got excess capacity. This will make certain that your users will get a consistent experience when you don’t have excess capacity, and can design and build to deal with your API quota.

Much like user-facing services, you really need to test the ability of your APIs in a representative environment to help make sure you can easily meet demand.

Where the API delivers personal or private information you, whilst the data controller, must definitely provide sufficient timeouts on any cached information in your delivery network.

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