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How to secure your composable DXP

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Matt Black, Director of Information Security at Contentstack, explores essential security practices for safeguarding your composable DXP, focusing on user management and API token strategies within an enterprise headless CMS environment.


  • Security considerations from the user’s perspective
  • Availability is important to protect your brand
  • How can you protect API keys and tokens from inadvertent exposure?
  • How can user access security be strengthened against common threats like phishing?
  • The fundamental steps for setting up secure digital content infrastructure
  • How does AI impact cybersecurity challenges and defenses?
  • Important cybersecurity resources and methods for strengthening security foundations


Key Takeaways

Security considerations from the user’s perspective

Security in system integration involves ensuring safe, reliable information dissemination.

"When examining security from a user's perspective, the concerns are not just unique to composable systems but apply when integrating with platforms and sharing information. The goal is to promote our brands and messages effectively while ensuring the delivery method is trusted and safe. This process involves assessing various elements like system construction, design components and the desired end-user experience. Basic threat modeling, though intimidating in name, simply requires strategizing against potential disruptions in information dissemination, especially for marketing purposes or when high site availability is critical. It's crucial to ensure constant information availability, accuracy and proper reviews by authorized individuals. These considerations are fundamental in strategizing for success."

Availability is important to protect your brand

A CDN ensures brand reputation security by enhancing availability and mitigating attacks.

"When promoting your brand, availability is crucial. Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) is vital to mitigate risks like denial of service attacks, ensuring your site can manage traffic surges and filter bad traffic. Contentstack's CDN addresses these concerns, playing a key role in the security triad: confidentiality, integrity and availability. It not only accelerates content delivery through caching but also provides an added layer of protection against service disruptions."

How can you protect API keys and tokens from inadvertent exposure?

API security necessitates vigilant key protection and routine checks to prevent exposure.

"When working with APIs, there's inherent trust in the accuracy of the shared information, managed through API keys and tokens, which should be guarded as diligently as passwords. It's crucial to ensure these keys and tokens are secure and not inadvertently exposed, a common error often seen in security mishaps. To mitigate this, you can employ tools that detect potential public exposure of such sensitive information, establish regular key rotation schedules and collaborate with IT teams to integrate protective measures into your workflows."

How can user access security be strengthened against common threats like phishing?

Enhancing user access security involves single sign-on, strong passwords and monitoring activities.

"User access is a widespread concern, with issues like phishing attacks and account breaches becoming so common they're hardly newsworthy. Implementing single sign-on through platforms like Active Directory or Okta is advisable, as it links to a central identity provider and allows IT teams to manage identity protocols, enhancing protection for user accounts. However, not everyone has this capability. Our system offers built-in tools to assist, including monitoring passwords, recommending password strength and rotation and providing audit logs to review events. If there's suspicion of irregularities, these logs can be crucial for tracing any issues. And remember, our team is always available to assist in investigating any concerns to prevent potential disasters."

The fundamental steps for setting up secure digital content infrastructure

Security setup requires strong passwords, data classification and restrained API key permissions.

"When guiding someone through the setup, I emphasize starting with the fundamentals, not necessarily 'basic' but foundational. Begin with user management: ensure the use of strong passwords and establish a solid password rotation policy. If possible, configure SSO for enhanced security. It's also helpful to visually map out your data publication strategy—identify your authors and reviewers, and pinpoint critical stacks that require extra scrutiny.

Consider the nature of the information you're publishing. The approach will differ based on an organization's maturity, but employing data classification helps dictate where information can go, who can see it and who can review it. Review your classification policies; even if all your data is public, creating sub-categories for internal use can be beneficial.

Moving onto APIs, assess who has access to your keys and what these keys are capable of accessing. It's common to over-provision keys for the sake of expediency, granting them more permissions than necessary. However, it's crucial to revisit and restrict these permissions to what's essential, minimizing potential risks should any security issue arise."

How does AI impact cybersecurity challenges and defenses?

AI lowers attack entry barriers but also enhances defense through anomaly detection.

"The significant challenge with AI is that it lowers the entry barrier for attackers, enabling those with lesser programming skills to launch sophisticated attacks and empowering seasoned attackers to create indistinguishable social engineering threats like deep fakes, preying on human helpfulness. While traditional security measures like multi-factor authentication and good password/account hygiene are effective, AI's real advantage lies in its superior, rapid anomaly detection. It excels at learning and identifying normal behavioral patterns, making it invaluable for recognizing suspicious activities that humans might overlook in routine checks. For instance, AI can promptly detect if every 10th API call originates from a dubious IP address, a detail easily missed by human inspection. By capitalizing on AI's strength in pattern recognition, we can develop tools that remain vigilant, instantly alerting us to these anomalies. This not only enhances security but also allows human teams to focus on resolving more complex issues, leveraging AI's precision to handle the more nuanced aspects of security."

Important cybersecurity resources and methods for strengthening security foundations

Key cybersecurity resources include CISA, OWASP and the Stride Method for foundational practices.

"There are excellent resources available for cybersecurity. The Department of Homeland Security and CISA offer valuable checklists for building fundamental security practices. For those engaged in engineering and working with APIs, the OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) is indispensable. It's a global community of security practitioners providing free tools and documentation, including the API Top 10 list, highlighting common API vulnerabilities and ways to address them.

Another vital resource is the Stride Method developed by Microsoft, a simple threat modeling technique involving six key questions that guide you through potential security pitfalls in any new system or workflow. It helps ensure aspects like authentication, tamper-proofing, and service availability are thoroughly reviewed. Taking a moment to engage with these resources can significantly reinforce your cybersecurity foundations."

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