The Graph, a provider of indexing and query tools based on the GraphQL language designed for blockchain platforms, today announced it has given $48 million to The Guild, a group of developers advancing an open source application programming interface (API) platform to further development of GraphQL-based technologies.
Administered via The Graph Foundation, a nonprofit consortium that oversees the development of an open source graph database dubbed ONgDB, the agreement also calls for members of The Guild to contribute to the development of indexing and query tools being advanced by The Graph over the next four years.
Eva Beylin, director of The Graph Foundation, said the goal is to fund the development of projects that leverage GraphQL, an open source data query and manipulation language for application programming interfaces (APIs) originally developed by Facebook, to create subgraphs used on blockchain platforms like Ethereum to index data in a way that is more accessible to developers.
The open source community that is starting to evolve around blockchain platforms, also known as Web3, is now a major contributor to a range of GraphQL projects, noted Beylin. Those blockchain platforms are now being used to drive decentralized finance (DeFi) applications that do not rely on any single platform to process transactions. Those platforms are being employed by both startup and incumbent providers for financial services around the globe.
It remains to be seen, however, how the GraphQL community will address security concerns. GraphQL APIs can easily suffer from broken object-level authentication issues just like any other API. The issue is a single GraphQL query could exfiltrate much more information than a typical API request. If the GraphQL provider does not have granular authorization checks for each particular method and resource, a GraphQL endpoint could become a major vulnerability.
Cybercriminals also tend to launch brute-force attacks against APIs. With REST APIs, that malicious behavior is easier to catch with standard web application firewalls (WAFs) because it’s easier to notice hundreds of peculiar malformed requests. However, with GraphQL, a brute-force attack is harder to detect. It’s easier to limit this type of nefarious traffic with REST APIs by assigning access parameters to each resource and handling authorization checks one at a time.
It’s not likely GraphQL APIs will replace REST APIs overnight. However, as the backend platforms for managing GraphQL APIs become more robust, the number of these APIs being used in a production environment by DevOps teams will dramatically increase—assuming there are no objections from cybersecurity teams.
In the meantime, the open source community is clearly starting to rally around GraphQL, which should result in innovations applicable across a wide range of use cases. The challenge now is not only determining which type of API to employ and when, but also deciding whether any existing legacy APIs need to be replaced. One way or the other, however, the managing and securing of APIs—like it or not—is only going to become that much more challenging in 2022.