Teaching best practices to Design, Build, Secure and Monitor APIs

In this blog, I want to share my experience after having created many APIs using different approaches and technologies. I am going to encapsulate a simple process that will help you construct APIs, starting from scratch with an idea or requirement and move it all along to a happy consumption.

The best part of APIs is that they are microservices enablers, which implies that they are not technology prescriptive, so in this blog you will see that your APIs can be implemented using any technology or programming language.

I decided to use “Jokes” as the vehicle to explain the APIs construction best practices, mainly because jokes are a simple concept that anyone can relate to, but also because I want you to feel compelled to consume these APIs and by doing so, get a laugh or two.

My original idea with jokes is to:

  1. Get a random joke.
  2. Translate the joke to any language.
  3. Share the original or the translated joke with a friend via SMS.

This is the high-level view of how our end solution will look like:

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Access Management and Micro-services – Part 4: Enabling Other Teams and Inter-Service Authentication

Previously in this series we have examined what is required on an Access Management side in order to support a micro-services architecture, providing services for authentication, user management, assurance, etc. In this post, we expand the scope, looking at how to enable new services to easily implement access and authorisation appropriately, as well as a discussion about how they can authenticate to each other. Ultimately the creation of a secure system involves security of all parts, not just the access management services which facilitate it, and so this post focuses upon working towards enabling that. Security is also built upon organisational culture, and while it is a little difficult to instil that through a blog post, taking steps to create a technical foundation which allows the Access Management teams to be open and collaborative instead of being the team that says ‘no’ is unlikely hinder such cultural development.

Continue reading “Access Management and Micro-services – Part 4: Enabling Other Teams and Inter-Service Authentication”

Access Management and Micro-services – Part 3: Advanced Authorisation and Assurance

Continuing from the previous post which dealt with the core concepts around performing authentication and authorisation in a distributed environment, this post expands upon those concepts, looking at additional factors for authorisation decisions, including supplementary information, authentication challenges and risk assessment. While basic authentication and authorisation requirements can be met through the use of JWTs and OAuth, this post shifts to tackling bespoke requirements, outlining potential services which could provide capabilities above and beyond what is captured in those standards.

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Access Management and Micro-services – Part 2: Authentication and Authorisation

In the previous post in this series we examined at a high-level how responsibilities for authentication and authorisation are distributed in a micro-services architecture. In this post, the strategies and technologies that underpin the implementation of authentication and authorisation will be explored further, with the core access management services providing authentication services, which support individual services performing authorisation. This discussion is actually split across two posts, as authentication and authorisation are core parts of the access management services, and require extensive discussion, with this post focusing upon the core capabilities, and the following post focussing upon more advanced authentication and authorisation requirements.

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Access Management and Micro-services – Part 1: Overview

An ongoing trend, as organisations increasingly adopt cloud-native development approaches, is from centralised services, to widely distributed services. This shift requires a rethink about how access management is delivered, in terms of aligning with this model in development practice, as well as accommodating the radical effect that this has on deployment architecture. I have previously alluded to this shift as being from ‘perimeter-based access management’ to ‘centralised access management’, and how this is able to accommodate the increasing adoption of distributed infrastructure and services.

I initially began writing a post which would explore this concept in more detail, though it quickly grew beyond what could be easily captured within a single post. As a result, in order to give the topic justice, I will break this into a number of posts, beginning, in this post, by exploring what Access Management even looks like in this sort of architecture, then going into more detail about strategies for implementing a micro-services approach to access management.

Continue reading “Access Management and Micro-services – Part 1: Overview”

JWTs? JWKs? ‘kid’s? ‘x5t’s? Oh my!

There are no shortage of acronyms in the security space, and shifting towards centralised-security, rather than perimeter-based-security, has added even more. As I have been playing with solutions around centralised identity services, such as Oracle’s Identity Cloud Service, I have found myself spending more and more time in IETF RFCs in order to understand these concepts. While there is a lot of value in the standards documents, they assume a lot of knowledge and I often found myself wishing for a slightly more approachable, high level description of the elements I was dealing with. While there is something tempting about being part of the secret ‘We read the security RFCs’ club, I resisted this, and took it upon myself to provide this higher level overview of these important concepts.

Continue reading “JWTs? JWKs? ‘kid’s? ‘x5t’s? Oh my!”