The Wallarm API Discovery module has been further enhanced to enable customers to identify Orphan APIs and bring them under management. In this post we’ll discuss what Orphan APIs are, why they matter, and how to regain control of your API portfolio.

What Are Orphan APIs?

Orphan APIs are endpoints that are part of the API specification but that are not requested in an application. This happens for a variety of reasons, such as being superseded with a new version but not unpublished. They represent part of your API attack surface, but may fall off your security radar since they’re no longer being actively used.

Why Do Orphan APIs Matter?

Removing any unnecessary cruft from your code is the hallmark of good coding practice. And this applies to APIs just as it does to your compiled code. There are many reasons why you should identify and manage Orphan APIs, including:

  • Maintenance Issues: Orphan APIs can make it difficult to maintain your API infrastructure. Unused APIs can create clutter and confusion, making it harder for developers to identify the APIs that need to be updated or deprecated. This can cause confusion for developers, who may spend time working on unnecessary code, leading to longer development cycles and increased maintenance costs.
  • Security Impact: Orphan APIs can result in a lack of visibility into your API infrastructure. If these APIs are not properly tracked and monitored, it can be difficult for security teams to identify potential security threats or compliance issues, and can cause confusion as they chase down unused endpoints.
  • Poor UX: Orphan APIs can negatively impact the user experience (UX) of your applications. Unused APIs clutter the documentation and make it difficult for users to find the relevant APIs they need. This can lead to frustration and decreased usage of the application.
  • Standards Compliance: Orphan APIs can cause compliance issues with API standards. Unused APIs that violate API design principles can lead to issues with maintainability, scalability, security and usability.
  • Inefficient Resource Allocation: Orphan APIs can lead to inefficiencies in resource allocation. If resources such as servers, databases, and network bandwidth are allocated to support unused APIs, it can lead to suboptimal use of those resources, have an adverse impact on system performance, and increase costs.

How to Manage Orphan APIs?

The Wallarm API Specification Comparison capability is part of the Wallarm API Discovery module. By comparing and validating your API specifications with those automatically generated by Wallarm, it allows you to identify Orphan APIs – be they public facing or for internal use only – that are “officially” documented and supported but not actually being used. This empowers you to identify potential configuration errors, optimize compute resource allocation, free development & testing resources from maintaining those unused endpoints, and significantly improve the efficiency of your API infrastructure.

What About Shadow APIs?

Shadow APIs are similar to Orphan APIs, but in reverse: in the case of Shadow APIs, they’re undocumented but being used. The approach to identifying and managing them is similar, as discussed in our earlier post Find APIs Hiding in the Shadows.

Learn More

Take a look at the following resources to learn more about how Wallarm helps you identify and manage Orphan APIs: