Akto Promises To Protect The World’s APIs From Cyber Attackers

APIs are increasingly making the world go round — but they’re also a major weakness for designer cyber-attackers, warns security platform Akto. The California-based startup, which today announces a $4.5 million seed funding round, thinks it has the answer.

For starters, an API is a piece of software that enables two different computer programs to talk to each other – think of a retailer asking for your details from your bank when you pay for something, or a price comparison service fetching quotes from corporate websites Car insurance. Therefore, APIs are vital as the world interacts more digitally than ever before.

Akto co-founder Ankita Gupta explains that the problem is that cybercriminals are keen to target these links between different programs. “APIs are constantly fetching data from one place and taking it to another, and they are very vulnerable while doing so,” she says. “Some of this data may be harmless – but what if it’s your confidential personal data, or your payment information?”.

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It is not an idle warning. A recent report documented a 700% increase in API attack traffic over the past year, while market research specialist Gartner believes APIs will become the most popular attack vector in 2022 for cybercriminals. One notable recent breach, which saw 9.8 million records of consumer data in Australian telecom operator Optus, was blamed on an API weakness.

“That’s what we’re trying to find a solution to,” Gupta adds. “So far, there is no automatic security solution to protect the API – our plug-and-play platform bridges that gap.”

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The Akto platform offers two important services, the company says. First, once installed, it will identify every API your work is exposed to. Gupta explains that one of the problems many companies face is that they simply cannot keep track of all the APIs they link to through relationships with other organizations and developers. So Akto will provide instant proof of these links, rather than asking IT to waste valuable time trying to keep up with these links.

Second, the company maintains a constantly updated list of known vulnerabilities and vulnerabilities in APIs; Its software then scans the client APIs for any such issues and, when found, provides tips on how to correct them.

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In an ideal world, says co-founder Ankush Jain, customers would use the Akto platform before agreeing to deploy partner APIs — thus avoiding issues up front. But the platform can also be used to scan already used APIs for vulnerabilities – and to keep the APIs checked while the list of known vulnerabilities is updated. “It’s best to identify these issues as early as possible,” Jane says. “But you have to keep checking to stay on top of the problem.”

Launched at the end of last year, Akto is working with customers on a closed beta basis, although it has already scanned more than 100,000 APIs for customers worldwide. Users say part of its attraction is that the platform can be up and running very quickly, clearing client API exposure within minutes of installation.

The next stage for Akto is the commercial launch. It will run as software as a service, offering a free “community” version of its platform for those who only need limited functionality and have a limited number of APIs. The ‘Team’ and ‘Enterprise’ versions of the platform will incur a monthly subscription fee.

“We want to launch the largest API security platform in the world within the next few years,” says Gupta. It believes the Akto community can attract up to 10,000 new joiners by the end of the first quarter of 2023.

The growth plan will support the additional financial strength that the company’s initial round gives today. The $4.5 million comes from Accel India, which is leading the round, as well as a group of angel investors, and is dedicated to further product development, as well as market access.

“APIs are ubiquitous – they are the glue that enables any software to provide rich functionality – but until recently, little thought was given to securing them,” says Priyank Swarup, Partner at Accel India. “Akto’s approach and technologies provide a reliable, scalable, easy-to-install, and API-accurate security solution.”


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