The first part of a two part article about the sort of things an Ace Associate, or anyone else in a Technology Advocacy programme such as the Ace & Groundbreakers could approach social media has been published. Go check it out (http://www.oraworld.org/home/ – page 15) along with other articles in the latest edition of OraWorld covering subjects as diverse as Open World, Apex and Spam (read and you’ll understand).
I’d like to thank my colleagues, particularly James Neate for the inspiration behind this article.
When it comes to deployment of API Gateways, there are a couple of well-known patterns, that of the Internal Gateway and External Gateway (described in several resources including here).
These two deployments essentially reflect the considerations of offering endpoints up to less secure network segments such as the internet (external gateways) and trusted network zones (internal gateways). But in addition to the physical deployment within a network, these deployments are likely to host APIs with different characteristics, reflecting levels of trust, and emphasis on enterprise decoupling/abstraction (internal) – the reason why APIs are sometimes associated with the idea of SOA 2.0. Compared with security sensitivity, and potentially monetization or at least usage metrics to help protect specific attack vectors.
These deployment patterns can be seen in the following diagram.
Both the internal and external gateways are reflective of interest in the origin of the API traffic. However a rarer 3rd pattern does exist.
This pattern of crops up when you need to consider the ability to manage how internal solutions connect to outside services, for reasons such as:
To varying degrees, most techies are aware of the security vulnerabilities identified in the OWASP Top 10 (SQL Injection, trying to homebrew Identity management etc), although I still sometimes have conversations where I feel the need to get the yellow or red card out. But the bottom line is that these risks are perhaps more appreciated because it is easier to understand external entities attacking seeking direct attacks to disrupt or access information. But there are often subtler and at least more costly to repair attacks such as internal attacks and indirect attacks such as compromising software deployment mechanisms.
This, later attack Is not a new risk, as you can see from the following links, been recognised by the security community for some time (you can find academic papers going back 10+ years looking at the security risks for Yum and RPM for example).
- Survivable Key Compromise in Software Update Systems
- Consequences of Insecure Software Updates
- Attacks on Package Manager
- The Problem of Package Manager Trust
But software is becoming ever more pervasive, we’re more aware than ever that maintaining software to the latest releases means that known vulnerabilities are closed. As a result, we have seen a proliferation in mechanisms to recognise the need to update and deploying updates. 10 years ago, updating frameworks where typically small in number and linked to vendors who could/had to invest in making the mechanisms as a secure as possible – think Microsoft, Red Hat. However we have seen this proliferate, any browser worthy of attention has automated updating let alone the wider software tools. As development has become more polyglot every language has its central repos of framework libraries (maven central, npm, chocolatey ….). Add to this the growth in multi-cloud and emphasis on micro deployments to support microservices and the deployment landscape gets larger and ever more complex and therefore vulnerable.
What to do?
As is Packt’s tradition, their Christmas book promotion has started. For the next week or two all books and videos are $5 in their ebook/video download format. Including the titles I have co-authored as well as others that I have contributed to as a reviewer.
When it comes to development, we have had coding standards for almost as long as we have been coding. We tend to look at coding standards for purposes of helping to promote good quality code and reduce the likelihood of bugs and so on. But they also help with readability, making it easy to navigate a code base and so on. This is sufficiently important that there is a vast choice of tools to help us ensure we align with good practices.
That readability etc, when it comes to code interfaces lends to making it easier to use an interface as it promotes consistency and as Don Norman would say avoids ‘cognitive load‘, in other words, the effort involved in performing actions with the interface. Any Java Developer will tell you, want to print out an object (any object) you get a string representation using the .toString() method and direct it using the io packages.
That consistency and predictability are important not just for code if you look at any API best practises documents you’ll encounter directly or indirectly the need to use conventions that drive consistency – use of singular or plural for the name of entities, application of case – camel case, snake case etc. Good naming etc and we’ll see related things appear together in the documentation. Products such as Apiary and SwaggerHub include tooling to help police this in our API design work.
But what about policies that we use to define how an API Gateway handles the receipt and routing of API invocations? Well yes, we should have standards here as well. Some might say, governance gone mad. But gateways are often shared services, so making it easy to see and logically group APIs together at very least by using a good naming convention will help as a minimum. If API management is being administered in a more DevOps fashion, then information security professionals will probably want assurance that developers are applying policies in a recommended manner.
This year’s UKOUG TechFest 19 conference is over. The first time in a number of years where the user group conference hasn’t been a combined Tech, Apps and JD Edwards event. I have to admit that I was a little concerned with the separation of Tech and Apps as some of the tech stack overlaps for the two groups – for example, Integration Cloud.
That said, the situation being what it was, I got involved with the committee for planning the event including inheriting the stream lead responsibilities for Dev (in the sense of modern development e.g. microservices etc) and what had been historically referred to as middleware (Integration Cloud, Digital Assistant, Helidon, WebLogic) with a lot of support and input from Mark Simpson, Grant Ronald and Susan Duncan.
From my perspective, I don’t think there was a concern (and this isn’t an attempt at being self-congratulatory) as the hard graft is done by the UKOUG office staff.
As the number of people was smaller, we had a smaller venue rather than the ICC in Birmingham or the ACC Convention Centre in Liverpool – which actually worked out well. The problem of the ICC and particularly the ACC is that main community spaces had been very large as a result atmosphere suffered. This time the Grand Hotel in Brighton was really busy and vibrant as a result.
We had a good blend of sessions covering traditional integration, low code, cloud, microservices, API, UI with people from customers, partners and Oracle travelling in from all over Europe and the US to participate and present.
In terms of my presentations and the ones, I managed to see, I’d particularly recommend checking out in the UKOUG library …
The API Platform when you configure IDCS to provide the option to authenticate users against a corporate Identity Provider such as Active Directory will automatically update the Management Portal Login screen accordingly. However today it doesn’t automatically update the Developer Portal login page. Whilst perhaps an oversight, it is very easy to fix manually when you know how. As result you can have a login that looks like:
The rest of this blog will show what’s needed to fix the problem.
There are circumstances in which notifications from the Oracle API Platform CS could be seen as desirable. For example, if you wish to ensure that the developers are defining good APIs and not accidentally implementing APIs that hit the OWASP Top 10 for APIs. Then you will probably configure things such that developer users can design the APIs, configure the policies, but only request an API to be deployed.
However, presently notifications through mechanisms such as email or via collaboration platforms such as Slack aren’t available. But implementing a solution isn’t difficult. For the rest of this blog we’ll explore how this might be implemented, complete with a Slack implementation.