The Importance of Regularly Rotating Your API Keys

Best Practices

APIs (application programming interfaces) have become ubiquitous in modern software development. They allow different applications to communicate with each other by making calls to endpoints that return data. 

To prevent unauthorized access, most APIs require authentication via API keys. An API key is a unique identifier that is passed along with API requests. This allows the API provider to identify the caller and determine if they should be allowed to retrieve the requested data.  

While API keys enable secure access control, they can also pose a risk if compromised. That’s why it’s crucial to refresh your API keys regularly. 

In this article, we’ll cover why you should periodically generate new API keys, techniques for rotating API keys, and how ElevateAI makes key rotation simple. 

The Risks of Stale API Keys 

Once an API key is issued, it typically remains valid until explicitly revoked. Over time, as more people gain access to a key, the potential for exposure increases. 

For example, say you initially issued an API key to a developer who needed to work on a prototype. A few months later, that developer leaves the company, but the old key remains active. This poses a security risk if it falls into the wrong hands.  

Additionally, some APIs may be exploited due to vulnerabilities that arise. If a flaw is discovered in an API that allows unauthorized data access, any existing keys could be leveraged for malicious intent before the provider patches the issue. 

Rotating your API keys mitigates these types of risks. By regularly generating fresh keys, you limit the lifespan of each one. This reduces the chances of a compromised or vulnerable key being abused. 

Recommended Frequency for Key Rotation 

So how often should you refresh your API keys? While there are no universal standards, general industry recommendations are: 

  • At least every 6 months – Rotating twice per year ensures keys don’t remain active for too long.
  • Whenever significant personnel/system changes occur – If developers, admins, or integrated systems that use the keys change, rotate the keys.
  • After any known or potential compromises – If a key may have been exposed, generate a new one immediately.  
  • When extensive API changes happen – Big updates to API functionality may warrant issuing new keys. 

The specific frequency will depend on your risk profile. More sensitive applications and data may warrant more frequent rotations, while less critical systems could go a year or longer between refresh cycles. 

Rotating API Keys with ElevateAI 

ElevateAI makes it simple to manage and rotate your API keys. Within your ElevateAI dashboard, you can generate, view, and revoke API keys anytime with just a few clicks.  

Here are some key features that enable easy API key control: 

  • Generate API keys easily- Creating new keys is instant.
  • Name and organize keys – Keys can be labeled with custom names for easy identification.  
  • View key activity – See the number of calls made with each key and date of last request.
  • Revoke individual keys – Keys can be revoked immediately without impacting others. 

All these features are available in your dashboard.

ElevateAI dashboard screen to manage tokens.

With this suite of capabilities, you can implement a secure API key rotation policy: 

  1. Generate API keys for each developer/system that needs access.
  2. Review usage activity to identify stale keys.
  3. Revoke unused keys after 6 months.
  4. Create new keys as personnel/systems change.
  5. Instantly revoke any compromised keys.

ElevateAI empowers you to easily implement best practices for API key lifecycle management. Credentials stay fresh and you minimize the attack surface area for bad actors. 

Secure Your APIs with Proactive Key Rotation 

API keys enable straightforward access control for developers. But failing to rotate stale keys increases risk of exploits. 

Therefore, make API key rotation a standard procedure across all your services. ElevateAI provides an intuitive dashboard interface that makes regularly refreshing keys simple and painless.  

Take control of your API keys and ensure they don’t outstay their welcome. Enable robust API security by proactively generating new credentials. 

Try ElevateAI today and implement robust controls for your API keys. 

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