Application programming interfaces expose information by design. Technicians wouldn’t be able to communicate with them if they didn’t. Securing this information is important, however, especially when working with something sensitive as Simple Message Service texts.

Locking Down Basic SMS APIs

Internal APIs tend to be the easiest to lock down since the engineers who work on them have a clear picture of what they’re designed to do. They know where a packet would be at any given point along its journey, so they can be certain that any security features they build into the software will function as intended.

Enterprise-level installations usually include APIs built around the same philosophy that dictates the way standard Unix programs work. Users are only ever given the minimum amount of information needed to complete a request.

Secure text message API architectures won’t return personally identifiable information in any situation where that’s not called for. Unauthorized access to customer phone numbers, email addresses and other contact details is screened out based on a simple permissions system.

Everyone who accesses a theoretical API that functions like this would have a set of permissions associated with their account. If they ever made a call to the API requiring privileges they don’t have, it would automatically deny them access. No external software is required to keep things safe.

Best of all, this kind of system scales without refactoring. Permission databases can grow and shrink dynamically as people are added to the system. As long as the operators make sure they remove old accounts, it will stay secure. Problems creep into the equation when an API is asked to work across multiple networks.

Ensuring End-to-End Encryption is in Place

When a wireless customer sends a text message, it has to pass through a central telephone company office, where a general-purpose computer known as a Softswitch routes it to the recipient’s device.

There’s a good probability that the two users are on different networks, which complicates the matter somewhat. One of these networks could encrypt texts while the other might send them all out in the clear. As soon as the information gets routed to the second user, there may no longer be any reasonable expectation of security.

Any API that works with multiple networks should route everything through a trusted infrastructure. Corporate intranets are usually considered the safest, though using them to access an outside line can be difficult. Computer specialists have found the easiest way to ensure that everything is encrypted end-to-end is to use the Internet as opposed to the publicly switched telephone network when transferring data.

Texts sent with a chat application are normally much safer than those sent as SMS messages to a given phone number. Such apps assume that everyone someone might want to communicate with already has an instance running locally. This isn’t a reasonable assumption in the business world, so some are turning to network-based telephony to answer their problems.

Leveraging Internet-based Texting Technology

Most wireless carriers use packetized softswitch solutions, completely bypassing traditional PSTN. While texts are sent the same way using these solutions, the backend topology is entirely different. Users never notice the difference, and any API calls they make will get answered like they would if a conventional handset made them. Old-style digital time-division multiplex devices never touch text packets on networks that leverage this kind of technology, meaning that APIs built around them are intrinsically safe.

Wireless providers already utilize this scheme to reduce costs and align themselves with certain regulatory considerations. Organizations with some sort of internal postbox exchange can easily configure it to work with any API code they’ve deployed thus far.

This allows users to send out secured messages without completely locking them out of the PSTN. All of the work is done outside of the API itself, so operators will never notice. The entire system functions independently of the SMS apps that users deal with on their phones, there’s no need for any additional training either. That makes deploying this kind of system every bit as simple as it is secure.

Despite all this, security experts recommend caution. Convenience and usability should always take a backseat to customer privacy, especially when dealing with sensitive data.