Automation authorizes organizations and Industries to hold the dynamic capabilities of the cloud. Today’s, enterprises are expanding by holding automation tools and DevOps initiatives to drive improved efficiency, bigger business agility and optimize business processes. To achieve this activity securely, automation tools pass credentials through APIs to make sure that only authenticated automation tools, applications, etc. can get authorized access to the organization’s cloud resources, infrastructure, customer data and other applications. All of the public cloud vendors make use of secure credentials, generically referred to as API keys or Access keys, which are private and unique to the organization’s cloud environment and are enabled during set up of the cloud environment.

For example, Amazon Web Services environments, scripts use Amazon Web Services Access Keys for auto-scaling, accessing data and other functions. With Azure, Azure Application Keys play a same role, and API Keys for Google Cloud Platform. These API keys are very much powerful, enabling, for example, a script or user to start or stop a virtual server, copy or wipe out entire workloads and database. With API keys, a script or user can do anything they want within the cloud environment. In the wrong hands, they represent a major vulnerability.

API keys represent the “keys of the cloud kingdom,” but in spite of this far outreaching power, these keys are not safe. For example, attackers use spoofing to steal API keys by authorizing access to unsafe endpoints. Keys are also often plant within orchestration tools, applications and automation scripts. As a result, they are all frequently unchanged and static, they are strongly hard coded and available in any copy of the code or app script. Attackers also try to steal API keys from public directories, like GitHub. In this case, from code that is accidentally dropped into public directories without removing the API keys. It can be an easy fault for a developer to make, and attackers use bots to troll these directories leaving little time for the developer to correct the fault.

API keys are such mandatory and effective credentials and so widely used in cloud workloads, powerfully securing them and applying the principle of least privilege is necessary.

Steps for Securing API Keys

To help secure API of the enterprise cloud workloads, enterprises should take the following steps for API keys security:

Discover and enumerate all keys: Control learning tool that can scan your cloud environment to spot where API keys and other secrets are hidden. Evaluate and prioritize the API key and infrastructure vulnerabilities and collect dependent and complete audit information.

Remove embedded API keys: Securely eliminate API keys from script, automation tools and application. Similarly, intercept human users from straight accessing the API keys.

Secure API keys: Proactively protect API keys by keeping them in a secure, concentrate vault that supports strong controls access permitting only authorized applications and user to reach them.

Automate securing credentials: Control API Key access to the digital vault and use combination with automation scripts and tools to automate and make sure to secure use of the API keys. To ensure that authorized application has access to the API keys use application authentication and machine IDs.

While migrating workloads to the cloud can lead significant business benefits, it can also enlarge the attack surface by permitting unprotected API keys, Credentials, and other secrets to become damaging security vulnerabilities. In the hands of an external attacker or malicious insider, API keys could allow attackers to take full control of an organization’s cloud infrastructure for attacker and malicious insider and also disrupt operations, steal confidential information and disable security controls.

However, while this post focuses on vulnerabilities that attackers can utilize, organizations that efficiently manage their API keys, secrets and other credentials can reduce these vulnerabilities and protect their cloud workloads. In fact, with the right approach the cloud can be more protective and secure than on-premises environments.