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App Security Insights

5 Misconceptions you have about Mobile App Security

Mar 27, 2018 10:07:04 AM / by AppSolid Team

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Developers like yourself seem to be increasingly grappling with the reality of just how much of a threat hackers and other malicious users pose to your apps. In recent years, some of the most prominent organizations across the world have fallen prey to cyber-attacks, leaving millions of users’ sensitive data exposed and vulnerable to identity theft and other fraudulent activities.

Naturally, due to this ongoing concern, mobile application security is rightfully becoming more talked-about than it ever has been, a fitting designation seeing as the topic has never been more relevant. The current state of the industry has answered this call, making a wide variety of resources available to developers like yourself in search of a way to protect their investment and, by extension, their consumers.

However, despite mobile app security remaining a prevalent concern for developers, a lot of misinformation about the topic still appears to be circulating. When it comes time to act in service of your team, your product and your customers, it’s essential that you are able to separate fact from fiction and ensure that you’re taking the necessary steps.

Precautionary measures such as those involved in mobile app security only work when they’re implemented properly, after all. A sound security plan requires careful planning and forethought to truly make the biggest impact possible on your product, and if you don’t understand how it works, you’ll never be able to effectively leverage its benefits.

So today we’ll attempt to break through some of the long-held misconceptions you may still harbor regarding mobile app security, starting with one of the most troubling.

Misconception #1 - You don’t really need security software to protect your app

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No matter what you may hear, we cannot stress enough the importance of having some form of security software in place to safeguard against cyber-attacks. Yes, it’s an investment, but it’s one that is well worth it in the long run because of the tremendous benefits it will have on your overall safety. And we’re not only saying that your app could get hacked.

A security breach could compromise everything from your users’ data and mobile devices to your proprietary product and even your reputation itself. All of this simply because you didn’t want the added expense of security software, and as a result, you miss out on the stability that such a system could afford you. Suddenly, passing up the chance to install security software doesn’t make much sense, does it?

Thankfully, it’s never too late for you to reconsider and sign up for security software today. As much as it may have benefited you in the past, you still have the chance to enact some real change in your business before the unthinkable happens and you find yourself the subject of an aggressive and relentless cyber-attack. Ideally, this kind of software should be installed before your app even goes live, to ensure maximum protection against the sea of threats out there on the worldwide web.

Yet, the ability to scan your app, protect it against hackers and flag any potential risks never goes out of style. But don’t waste this window of opportunity to upgrade your defenses. Do your research and implement a winning security software — like our own AppSolid, for example — to keep your users and your product out of the wrong hands. You’ll be glad you acted when you did, since cyber-attacks are only becoming more common with each passing year.

Misconception #2 - Today’s threats are entirely manageable with minimal effort

We’ve already alluded to the mounting threats that businesses across all industries are facing, but let’s take an extra moment or two to eradicate beyond the shadow of a doubt any lingering belief you may have that the widespread antics of hackers and other malicious users can be kept at bay by simple tactics. While there are a wide variety of methods you may choose to use to add layers of protections to your app, ultimately it takes true dedication to the safety and security of your user data and source code to minimize the opportunity that a cyber-attack may decimate your app.

These involve thorough upgrades and monitoring of a range of facets involving your app, from your data security to your authentication measures. In the end, the combined effort to maintain these multiple entry points for cyber-attackers is sure to become overwhelming, and you’re better off relying on one overarching system to govern it all and eliminate the administrative headache you’d otherwise be perpetually nursing.

Consider for a moment the fact that, even with some of the sophisticated systems at their disposal, some of the world’s leading companies have become the targets of hackers. Perhaps this was due to human error or simply an oversight on the part of their security teams. Whatever the case may be, we can’t imagine a better example of why your team needs to place its trust in a unified security solution that can cover all the most common pain points and identify potential vulnerabilities before they develop into the threats that could undermine your mission to keep your users away from dangerous scenarios that would place them in the midst of a cyber-attack.

Misconception #3 - Your app couldn’t possibly be targeted by cyber-attackers

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You might be thinking that it has no bearing on your company when yet another multinational corporation suffers a cyber-attack. After all, of course these organizations are bound to become targets of hackers and other malicious users, simply due to the wide reach of their business activities and their global consumer bases. While these facts surely make these bigger companies more likely targets, their failure to avert cyber-attacks shouldn’t serve as any form or relief. In fact, quite the opposite is true.

Stories of such security breaches at these companies make a better headline, but they are far from the only ones occurring in the world at large. A higher-profile target often means more security measures, a true testament to the greater efforts hackers must put forth to earn their presumed reward. But how does a smaller company like yours fare against cyber-attackers?

In many cases, not very well. App piracy doesn’t discriminate based on the size of the company behind a given app. Actually, smaller companies like yours are far more likely to neglect to take necessary security precautions to curtail the possibility of a security breach. That’s what hackers are counting on. Any company that has an app — which, these days, extends to everyone from small businesses to the aforementioned massive companies we’ve all heard of — is a potential target.

The question is which have security measures actively keeping watch for hackers looking to stir up trouble and sneak into your code, stealing your users’ personal data for whatever reason. This kind of “it could never happen to me” mentality is only going to stand between you and an infinitely safer environment for your app and its users.

Misconception #4 - Securing your app is as simple as guarding a single access point

We’ve already established that you need an overall system to manage the various potential vulnerabilities that could open the door to a disastrous cyber-attack, but we have barely scratched the surface of all the myriad ways that hackers might choose to attack your app. To really achieve maximum effectiveness, your security plan needs to account not only for settings within the app itself but also the device it’s installed on, the network it is connected to and any of the many facets within it that could be exploited by a determined hacker.

Focusing solely on the application itself for a moment though, your team already has its hands full in covering the full range of possibilities, seeing as hackers will try a laundry list of attack methods to ensure that they reach their objectives.

Protecting your code is, of course, first and foremost. Hackers will try and use malware to strike there as well as such popular (and debilitating) methods as tampering and reverse-engineering. Anything to gain access to your code, the very lifeblood that runs your app from the ground up. However, you also need to take care to create a content security policy that serves to frame many of your precautions and neutralize the threat posed by cross-site scripting.

Moreover, you should take heed with any authentication elements, ensuring that email verification and/ore two-factor authentication are integral parts of your security process. Ultimately, it’s up to you and your team to take full stock of which parts of your app are the most attractive and feasible to become access points for hackers. This is yet another area in which a security software system would prove incredibly valuable.

Misconception #5 - Once you set up your security, you never have to look back

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Thus far, we’ve delved into a lot of key points revolving around how important it is for you to devise a security strategy that will put an undeniable emphasis on protecting your app and the sensitive user data housed within. Yet, don’t take all that advice to imply that you can simply allow your mobile app security to care for itself once all your in-depth security measures are active. In reality, you will need to remain constantly vigilant of not only your industry at large but your system itself.

This entails keeping your app up to date with some of the most widely accepted security standards and generally brushing it up to ensure that no code becomes outdated or obsolete, allowing space for vulnerabilities to develop. Thankfully, much of the stress involved in keeping your security setup running at top-notch levels of performance can be easily alleviated.

You guessed it. This is where software centering on mobile app security comes into play. Today’s crop of security software leaves a lot to choose from, but the best of these features built-in monitoring that will routinely scan for vulnerabilities and necessary updates, alerting you to any action that needs to be taken before a cyber-attack has the chance to take place.

That means you’ll receive the peace of mind in knowing that something fishy isn’t happening within your app as soon as you turn your back. This approach doesn’t preclude the need to be in the know about industry trends or innovative ways you can improve your mobile app security — after all, your code can never really be too protected — down the line, especially as your business grows and your app’s traffic likely expands alongside it. It simply removes the guesswork as to the current status of your app security at any given moment.

A Continuing Evolution

Even though you may now have a clearer idea of what mobile application security really is and how it might help you, it behooves us to point out that the journey never ends. As an app developer, you should always be searching for a deeper knowledge about how you can protect your app and its users from cyber-attackers.

New technology is emerging all the time that may either improve upon systems you already have in place or provide new heights of protection that you never even dreamed were possible. Keeping updated with the latest developments in your industry and connecting with colleagues regarding topics like mobile app security will surely go a long way toward feeding into your understanding of the most cutting-edge tactics on the market today.

As it stands, those threatening apps like yours are evolving at an incredibly fast rate, creating the potential for overwhelming disparity between what you’re prepared to handle and the force with which they may be poised to attack. Only by making your app’s security a priority throughout your organization can you hope to counter those who desire to exploit your team’s hard work for their own nefarious ends.

Such vigilance may seem exhausting, but it definitely beats the alternative of facing catastrophic and possibly irreparable damage to your business and even your reputation. Stay the course on mobile app security, and you’ll be ready to tackle any potential threats before they occur. Your users are depending on you to keep their best interests at heart.

Get Secure & Stay Secure: The Unconventional Guide to Mobile Application Security

Topics: Mobile App Security, Mobile App Security Testing

Written by AppSolid Team