These days, people depend on mobile apps for multiple reasons in their everyday life. So naturally, the app developing business is booming and thousands of new apps are hitting the market each week. It is extremely exciting to be a part of this digital evolution, but there are also many risks that come along with it.
As apps continue to grow and users become more dependent on them, hackers find more ways to take advantage of the amount of data that they willingly and trustfully provide. Being part of the development process means that you have to be able to predict just how a hacker might attempt to get into the technology that you are providing.
This may seem a bit intimidating because, obviously, you and your colleagues are not hackers. Ensuring that an app is secure actually is not as complicated as you might fear though, it actually is quite easy. You simply have to make sure the proper precautions have been taken during development, know what your threats are, and find a way to monitor security as the app runs its course.
This article will give you an idea of how to approach each of these things. Once you read it you will see just how easy protecting your mobile app can be.
Take The Initiative For Protection
As you may already know, a mobile app needs protective plumbing built into it’s groundwork. The software code, the business logic on the back end and on the client side, databases, the device, it’s operating system, and the user all play a major role in how well the app is protected.
Being in control all depends on how prepared you are. A few ways that you can prepare your app and yourself for what it could come up against in the future are:
- use encryption to protect the app code, making it something only known to you and incredibly hard to read for anyone else
- run source code scanning and test it for any possible vulnerabilities
- when adding security to an app, keep file size, runtime memory, battery usage, and overall performance in mind (security measures shouldn’t get in the way of your apps performance)
- use containerization to create encrypted containers to store data and documents
- federation can be used as a next-level security measure to spread resources amongst multiple servers to keep them from being all in one place
- try to avoid using someone else’s API (application program interface) for functionality. If you must rely on another creator’s code, use it only to provide access to the parts where it is absolutely necessary in order to lessen possible vulnerabilities
- the app should be designed so that the customer’s sensitive data (like passwords and credit card info) are not directly accessible through the device. This information should be stored through encryption
- key management should be a priority, keys and certificates cannot be obvious to hackers. Even if the algorithm is strong, a hacker can easily get through if key management isn’t considered
- make sure that there is a solid API security strategy in place, a well built security stack includes: identification, authentication, and authorization
- the software should be continuously tested with penetration testing to check the systems weaknesses, authentication and authorization vulnerabilities and session management, and how the app performs in a simulated environment
- do not ever use an insecure device to run the app, as in a jailbroken or rooted device
- a VPN should be implemented to create a secure connection
- an authorized devices should be blocked and secured devices should be cleared through firewall, antivirus, and anti spam software
The above is an overview of all of the areas that need to be tended to in order to secure an app. Make sure that the people who are building the app and the safety encryptions are done by someone you know that you can depend on.
Prepare Yourself For The Hiccups Before They Happen
You have to know the ins and outs of the threats that you are dealing with if you are going to protect yourself from them. Being an expert on such things will keep you from being blindsided and confused if they ever come up, and you will be able to do damage control much easier if you know what you are dealing with. Some common security issues that are majorly affecting app users today are:
Too much trust in built-in platform security. A lot of people tend to think that certain platforms, such as Apple iOS, are the most secure because all of the apps go through a screening process before being released to users. This, however, does not necessarily mean that these apps are secure. These screening processes do not account for every type of hack or malicious possibility out there. No matter what the name or the amount of users, there is always room for error or flaw in any platform.
Using code that is taken from other developers. It is very tempting to use code from another developer. Building your own takes a lot of time, and there is a whole bunch of free code available for anyone to take and build on. The problem is, you never know who is responsible for building this code. There are hackers who create code with the intent of trapping developers into using it so they can then have access to whatever information is used in the app. So be careful, do a lot of research if you want to borrow. Bottom line, make sure you can trust the person who developed the code that you are using.
Not foreseeing the vulnerabilities presented by data caching. Mobile devices store short-term information for as long as they can (this is called caching) in order to increase the speed at which they process. This in turn makes them more vulnerable to hacks because cached information is easily accessible. Putting a password in place in order to access the app can fix this issue, but you cannot guarantee that the user will take advantage of this tool. Also, if you make it a requirement, it could make it less appealing to users if they find the password necessity inconvenient. Another solution is programming the cache to automatically be wiped each time the mobile device reboots.
The lack of encryption or using weak encryption. As technology improves, encryption algorithms must acclimate. Hackers get used to the ways things are done and once they have picked up on a pattern you are no longer safe. If the app requires the user to put in sensitive data, it must be securely encrypted. Especially if the app is a popular one, it is extremely likely that the app will be hacked and the users will have you to blame for the issues that ensue from their sensitive data being breached.
Not considering the physical side of app security. Being on the app development team means you don’t have very much control when it comes to the security of ones device and who gains access to it. Still, you can implement a timeout code that makes a session close after lack of use.
Not placing a secure line between the app and server. It is common for apps that require sensitive user data to connect back to a server. Therefore, there must be a setting in place to ensure a secure connection. To achieve this type of security, developers usually use encryption and SSL certificates.
Not patching the app quickly enough. The moment you release an app is one of the most vulnerable times. Hackers are looking out for the new guys, and the second they spot you, they will be looking for any holes in it’s security. You should immediately and consistently revisit the app to test its security and perform updates. If there are patches that need to be made, the adjustment often takes a bit of time to reach your users. If you are not on top of it, the patch could take too long to reach a user and make them vulnerable.
Commit To Your Standard Best Practices
Whether or not you are using a security software with your app, there are a some firm bullet points that will help ensure that your app is protected and keep your development team on the same page:
- sensitive data should not ever be stored directly on the user’s device
- you should not rely on built-in key chains
- permissions should be limited to only the most necessary components in order for the app to function properly
- data should not be hard-coded within the app
- a user’s session should invalidate upon logout
- know the regulations that your app needs to adhere to and that these are being implanted in the design stage
- understand that different dynamics of each platform that the app is being developed for
- ensure proper session management
- make sure the trust boundaries are defined
- understand what data is to be collected so you can properly arrange security steps
Find A Software That Can Test And Maintain Your Security
At the end of the day, there is only so much that you can do in the initial stages and after the app is released to ensure that your user’s are protected. The easiest way to keep your mobile app equipped with full security is through consistent testing and troubleshooting.
What many do not realize is, a data security breach can be extremely harmful to the user and come crashing down on the developer who made the app that allowed it all to happen. Developers often make the grave mistake of believing that security stops once they have built and released the app but, as we discussed earlier, the most vulnerable time is after it’s release and it only gets worse the more success that it gains.
When it comes to a testing system set specifically to your app that ensures test occurring in a timely fashion with immediate response to error, there is no easier way to go than security software. Open-source mobile app security testing tools are created specifically for those who create apps and need a convenient way to ensure that they aren’t releasing them with any errors.
Softwares can provide a multitude of services and protection against:
- app piracy threats
- vulnerability identification threats
- data manipulation threats
- configuration issues a vulnerabilities
- database exploits
- time misconfiguration vulnerabilities
- the shipment of sensitive data
- malware injection, and more
Choosing a Testing Software
Some things to keep in mind as you explore the different options for testing tools are:
- you need to be able to spend all of your time in a productive fashion so you can evaluate your app’s security
- you should have consistent results which help you track any threats against your program
- you should be provided with consistent reports involving your entire team that helps you to define what must be done in order to reduce the risks being presented to your app
- the software should carry out usual scans to assess whether or not there are any threats or vulnerabilities in the system
- it should also provide a layer of protection to keep out any unwelcome users and be able to detect and notify you if a hacker has gotten through
There are a lot of testing tools out there, so make sure that you choose one that properly suits your business and the quality of your app. It should be easy to use and fit the functionality of your company. There is nothing more important than the security of your app and the protection of your users. Know where the threats are, and also that you are equipped with the means to be protected from them.
At the end of the day, having a dependable security software will monitor all of these elements we have discussed and make the entire process of protecting your app easy for you. Don’t wait until you are overwhelmed and at the mercy of a hacker’s threat, find a software that will give you the ease to focus on the part of your job that you do best.