6 Tips to improve your mobile app security

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Mobile devices have made our day-to-day life quite easy by literally excluding the hassle of going physically somewhere and enabling almost everything online from anyplace and anytime. This mobile productivity is the result of the multitude of mobile apps – software that connect to APIs and servers around the world to deliver data, services, and, ultimately, value and convenience to users. However, all this should be happening under the cover of well-engineered security or else a company jeopardizes their applications, their own system, their customers’ information, and their reputations.

Mobile devices and applications are major targets for malicious activity. Recent reports stated that 90% of surveyed apps had 2 out of 10 of OWASP’s major security risks, as well as 50% of organizations, are yet to allocate any capital for mobile app security which is indeed a major disparity when it comes to securing a mobile application.

Tips to improve your mobile app security

Smartphones and applications are the major targets for malicious activities and hackers can:

  • Steal data for identity theft purposes or fraudulence;
  • Access to private business assets and intellectual property;
  • Insert malware into devices and mobile applications;
  • Alter or copy the app’s code and revoke a fake application containing malware;
  • Deter sensitive information over the airwaves;
  • Get hold of your IP and jeopardize your company’s back-end network;

How app developers can protect their apps

In case you are developing an application, odds are you have stopped considering the security of your app, your data, and your customer’s data.

Secure your app’s code

Just like any other software project, the security aspect of mobile software should be given significance from the very first day. But, native apps differ from web applications – where data and software are secure on the server and the browser is just an interface. Whereas, in native apps, the code is located on the device after it’s downloaded, making it more vulnerable to malicious activities. An app’s source can contain many vulnerabilities but this is not the area where businesses focus their security funding. Network and data security aspects are important aspects of the overall security concept, but security has to start with the mobile app itself. The source code may get vulnerable due to developer’s error, faults in code testing or your app is just targeted by the hacker.

  • You can protect your app code with encryption. Your code should be difficult to decrypt. Minification and obfuscation are standard measures, but they are not enough. Instead, you should make use of latest, well-supported algorithms combined with encryption.
  • Test code for vulnerabilities, run source code scanning.
  • Don’t forget to consider aspects such as file size, runtime memory, performance, data and battery usage when you add security to your application. You want your app to be secure, but make sure it is not at the cost of performance and user experience.

Set Identification, authorization and authentication measures

You have to be cautious if your application relies on a third party’s API for functionality. You depend on their code for security. Be certain that the API your app uses only provide access to the parts that are required to minimize vulnerability.

  • OAuth2 is the gold standard protocol for managing secure connections via user-specific, one-time tokens.
  • For encrypted data exchange, JSON web tokens are lightweight and ideal for mobile security.
  • OpenID Connect – a federation protocol which enables users to use reuse their same credentials across multiple domains with an ID token, so they don’t have to register and sign in every now and then.

Secure network connections on the app’s back-end

Cloud servers and servers that are accessed by the app’s API should have security in order to protect data and prevent unauthorized access. Containerization is a method of creating encrypted containers for storing documents and data securely.

  • Consult a network security expert to conduct penetration testing and vulnerability evaluation of your network to make sure that the data is always protected.
  • Encrypted connections with a VPN, SSL, TLS and database encryption provide extra security.

Implement strong API security strategy

As Mobile App Development is centered directly on APIs, a large part of securing mobile apps is securing their APIs. APIs are the main conductors for data, content, and functionality, so securing API is an important part of the sequence. The three main security measures that contain a well-planned API security stack: authentication, identification, and authorization.

Implement good mobile encryption policy

Unsecured apps can release customer data (without them knowing) – mobile data that are stored in the background like location, age, device usage habits.

  • To encrypt inactive data use File-level encryption that protects data on a file-by-file basis.
  • Encrypt mobile databases
  • Prioritize key management

Test your app software

App code testing is very important in an app’s development process. Apps are being developed in such haste that the testing part falls to the wayside to rush the app launch. Testing app code helps in detecting vulnerabilities in the code before you launch your app in the market.

  • Test for authentication, authorization, data security issues and session management
  • Penetration testing involves deliberately analyzing a network or system for vulnerabilities.

As the number of mobile users and mobile devices increases so does the number of hackers trying to steal sensitive data and compromising the app security. But, with a robust mobile security approach and top-notch Mobile App Developers, a secure app for the users can be developed.

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