What Is API Throttling

During the Renaissance, we had the Age of Reason. Now we have the Age of the App!

Thanks to the Age of the App, there has been a lot of talk about API throttling. Have you been throttling your APIs lately, or do you just coddle them with kid gloves? Have you made an API call so that you can make your API request to get your API key? Do you even know the number of requests?

It is possible that you may be a little lost with all of these API-related terms. Therefore, it is only natural to want to know what is API throttling.

API Defined


Before we discuss API throttling, it makes sense to have a basic understanding of API. API stands for Application Programming Interface. An Application Programming Interface allows different applications to communicate with each other. You would be unable to use Facebook without using an API.

API Throttling Defined


API throttling is the concept of blocking or limiting API requests within a certain period of time. The reason could be as simple as preventing a “traffic jam” of app-to-app communication. It can also be for other reasons such as better security to protect from malware and DOS attacks (denial of service attacks), scalability, performance, monetization, authentication, and availability.

To see how this works, let’s look at an example. An API throttling system is going to have certain elements composed of the specific parts of the API. One very important part is external applications, such as mailbox, messaging queue, web service, response header, and window algorithm). An API gateway with a throttling threshold, throttle limit, rate limit, or quota to limit the number of requests is also important. Finally, there is an API endpoint for internal applications, such as mobile apps, webs apps, partner apps, and SaaS apps.

Let us return to our example. A single request attempts to enter the API from an external application, such as a mailbox. If the API has an API throttling system, then the single request does not have direct API access to your internal applications, such as your software. It has to pass through the API gateway first as part of best practices for better security. That way, if the email contains some type of malware or cyber attack, like a denial of service attack, the malicious attacks can be detected and the single request can be blocked by the API gateway.

However, if there is a high volume of requests or, even worse, an overwhelming number of requests, these best practices for better security can be compromised due to overwhelming traffic. In such cases, some general throttling strategies should be employed. Rate-limit throttling, for example, assigns a rate limit or throttle limit to the number of requests that can pass through an API gateway within a given period of time. It is really a simple throttle, but depending on the needs of their organization, no other general throttling strategies may be required.

Depending on the needs of their organization, however, other more sophisticated general throttling strategies and API strategies may be required. Other choices for API strategies include scope limit throttling, combination of multiple throttles, use of a token bucket algorithm, and use of a custom throttle.

The Bottom Line on Throttling


Your data is precious! Sensitive information must be protected from malicious attacks at all costs. You should always be responsible with your own data, and you should especially be responsible with the data of your employees and clients. Do everyone a kindness and assign an API request limit to your API gateway so that you can have an API throttling system.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.