Safeguarding Composable Architecture Applications Based on API-enabled Components

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The use of composable methodologies for application development is growing rapidly. The reason: It offers many benefits that speed the development process and opens up application creation to developers of all skill levels. However, the speed and ease-of-use benefits, via the reuse of pre-built components, can introduce new security risks that traditional security management solutions might not be able to handle.

The rising interest and adoption of composable architecture seems to be a matter of the right approach at the right time. Businesses today are under great pressure to innovate, transform, and offer new products and services. The pressure is coming from both inside organizations and from customers. Those within need applications, tools, and services to increase productivity, boost efficiencies, and cut costs. Customers want fast service, improved engagement, and quick responses to any queries and questions.

A composable approach to application development helps businesses deliver the needed solutions at the pace of modern business change. It accomplishes this by using composable entities that offer self-contained business capabilities. These elements make use of APIs and can be assembled and combined into larger applications.

Bolstered by other industry trends

Another reason for the popularity of composable application development is that it is a good match and complements other application development trends.

For example, its usefulness is enhanced by low-code/no-code development methods. Low-code/no-code saw great adoption during the pandemic. Businesses realized they needed to be more responsive to fast marketing changes, and their at-home workforce needed easy-to-use solutions.

The surge in their use continues this year. The low code development technologies market is projected to grow by 23% this year over last.

Many of the reasons companies cite for moving to low code are similar to why they use composable application architectures.

Namely, professional developers work faster, and they can spend more time on higher-level development problems. And both low code and composable methodologies let individuals and business groups with limited or no development expertise create their own powerful applications.

So, in many ways, the two technologies go hand-in-hand in many organizations.

Similarly, many of the underlying rationale and principles for using composability align with the other cloud-native methodologies. Specifically, with a cloud-native approach, applications are broken into loosely coupled microservices and container elements that are then assembled into a larger application. Specific elements in a cloud-native application, such as a front-end application or a business process, can be standardized and made available as a composable component in a cloud-native application.

What’s needed for security?

Enabling development using composable elements centers on APIs. Specifically, with respect to composability, Gartner notes that businesses “seeking to kick-start efforts to turn an organization into a composable business” should:

  • Enforce composable application design by ensuring application development teams use available external and internal API products
  • Educate teams about how to exploit existing applications and platforms for composability by using application APIs and low-code development and integration platforms.

Hence, security efforts must change from traditional approaches to ones that are more API-centric. Solutions must observe all user activity and API interactions, then act on unexpected user and API behaviors.

Solutions that address composable application security must offer infrastructure, services, and code-level threat analysis in a single platform to facilitate collaboration and expedite threat resolution to meet the needs of modern DevSecOps approaches to application development and security.

Solutions must also offer distributed tracing to collect user behavior, API, data flow, and code execution data for complete observability across cloud-native applications.

For composable apps, the true importance of a security solution is in its ability to perform automatic API discovery and produce real-time topology maps that show API flows and interconnectivity between services (endpoints, internal, and 3rd party).

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