Recent technology developments in the area of services on the Web are marked by the proliferation of Web applications and APIs. The implementation and evolution of applications based on Web APIs is, however, hampered by the lack of automation that can be achieved with current technologies. Research on semantic Web services is there fore trying to adapt the principles and technologies that were devised for traditional Web services, to deal with this new kind of services. In this paper we show that currently more than 80% of the Web APIs require some form of authentication. Therefore authentication plays a major role for Web API invocation and should not be neglected in the context of mashups and composite data applications. We present a thorough analysis carried out over a body of publicly available APIs that determines the most commonly used authentication approaches. In the light of these results, we propose an ontology for the semantic annotation of Web API authentication information and demonstrate how it can be used to create semantic Web API descriptions. We evaluate the applicability of our approach by providing a prototypical implementation, which uses authentication annotations as the basis for automated service invocation
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