In this day and age, every successful business makes use of the opportunities the internet provides. Having a mobile app synced up with your business guarantees a broader client base because of the undeniable convenience and accessibility it promises each customer. However, if your business’s app is not set up with protection against cyber threats, your whole company is at risk of being hacked and possibly going into ruin.
Though adequate security may be a little bit of extra money out of your pocket, considering the loss you would be gambling with or without it, it doesn't even compare to the costs you would end up having if attacked. Read on if you are not aware of the severity of the threats you are dealing with and the simple steps you can take to ensure that your app is secured.
What A Security Breach Could Mean For a Business
Just one single attack into an app’s data could take a serious toll on a business that usually includes great financial burden for it and it’s customers. This would hurt its reputation immensely, making it very difficult to get back on its feet.
Hackers who have malicious intent are able to:
- implant malware into apps and onto devices where it can get a hold of data and passwords
- change or copy the app’s code and make an imitation app that contains malware
- stop and copy sensitive data that is traveling through the airwaves
- steal data from customers to use for identity theft and fraud
- steal or exploit sensitive business assets
- take control of a company’s back-end network
Most people trust that, if other people trust an app, that it is secure. Yet, hackers are on the prowl, in search for the doors that the naive leave wide open for them. Do not let that be you or make your customers regret putting their trust in you.
How The Hackers Get In
There are a number of ways that a hacker can tap into a business’s sensitive data. A few examples are:
Through the employees. It is very common for hackers to try to get the employees of a business to accidentally install spyware, adware, malware, or viruses directly onto their device. Common ways the to achieve this is through drive-by download, social engineering, or even attachments within emails.
Through the network. Businesses don’t realize how vulnerable they are making themselves by grouping their computers, servers, and devices all together. Though it makes sharing data easy, it also opens up multiple opportunities for an attack.
Mobile devices. Whether a business has a BYOD (bring your own device) policy or it provides the company’s devices, they are still open to risks. It is essential that each device has a strong unique password. Each device’s user should be taking safety precautions because of the sensitive data being handled.
Unsecured Wi-Fi. Using any device or app with an unsecured or public wi-fi is just asking for trouble. When using a device with information that must be kept confidential, the connection should always be secure and bluetooth should be turned off the moment you begin roaming.
How To Secure An App
Each app has different settings and requirements to ensure its security. Apps that are of a more complex nature might rely on remote servers for storing and adjusting data. This means that the developer should secure the software, the transmissions of data, and the servers. Not only does each app have its individual needs, but threats are changing and evolving everyday. To ensure that a business’s app is properly secured, it may be wise to:
- Have a specific employee that monitors security. Within the team, there should be at least one person paying close attention to the app security through each stage of its development process. It may just be expected that each person is being cautious, but most of the time their attention is focused on their specific task at hand. Security needs to be watched at all times.
- Limit the amount of data you collect and store. If it isn’t completely necessary to include sensitive data, then don’t have it on the app at all. Data that isn’t collected is data that you do not have to worry about protecting. Don’t require location data or contact info if it is of no use to the function of the app.
- Don’t depend on a platform for protection. Platforms can provide some helpful security tools, but it is up to you to use them correctly. Make sure you are implementing them properly and taking the necessary measures to protect your users.
- Use encryption for usernames, passwords, and other sensitive data. Anytime that the app has the transmit usernames, passwords, or any other sensitive data, it should be done with transit encryption.
- Be careful with third-party code. Before deciding to use someone else’s code to build or adjust an app, make sure to do your research. Ensure that it has been tested in the real-world and proved to be successful.
- Ensure the network connections are secured on the back end. The servers that the app’s users are accessing should be equipped with security measures that protect data and keep unauthorized users from gaining access. Containerization can be used to create encrypted containers to securely store data and documents. It is also not a bad idea to consult a network security specialist to conduct penetration testing and search for any vulnerabilities within the network.
As a user, do what you can to protect your device. The app maker cannot make the user take the precautions necessary to keep the app the device that it is on safe. If you have employees using devices, make sure they are not using jailbroken or rooted devices. Apps should only be downloaded from trusted sources, like authorized app stores. Block all unauthorized devices from connecting to your network and secure the cleared ones with anti-virus software. You can also make the devices “risk-aware” so that any app attempting to make an abnormal transaction will be blocked from doing so.
What Would Happen In The Event Of A Breach
If a business is hacked and all of it’s sensitive data has been compromised, there is a number of steps that needs to be taken to communicate and mediate all parties involved. The business will have to:
- Notify the customers right away. Once it is certain that there has been a security breach, it is required by law that the business must inform their customers that their data has been compromised. Depending on the state, the laws do vary on the amount of time the business can take to do so. It is best to do it as soon as possible, but time can be afforded for an investigation by law enforcement authorities.
- The notification should be written. Each customer should receive a written notification that clearly states when the break occurred and the type of information that was compromised. Included should be what the company is planning to do to remedy the situation and the actions that the customers can take.
- Know the laws in their state. Each state requires specific actions to be taken when such an event occurs. In Connecticut, the breach statute requires businesses to offer a minimum of 1 year of credit monitoring to consumers affected by a data breach.
- Have a response plan ready in place before the event occurs. A response plan prepares you in case of a huge breach, so the company isn't blindsided and at a loss for what to do. It should include phone numbers for attorneys, IT forensic experts, and vendors who can help the customers who have been affected. It should also have a map of the network in order to locate possible vulnerabilities.
- Call a forensics team. Once the attacks occurs, experts will need to be brought in that can pinpoint what kind of attack it is and where it happened within the network.
- Talk to the federal authorities. This is not necessarily a requirement, but the feds can be very helpful with an investigation, especially when it comes to who could have attacked your business.
- Have a contingency plan. Make a plan for how you will maintain and continue business, even though the network could be shut down for weeks or even months. Consider having a backup network or reverting to using the phone for business transactions during this time.
If a business does not notify its users promptly and adequately, they could be facing multiple lawsuits when they should really be focused on cleaning up the huge mess from the breach. In 2014, at least 500 million of Yahoo’s user accounts were stolen. They did not notify these users of the breach and are now facing multiple class action lawsuits. Hackers do not just target the big businesses, 43% of hacks in 2015 were against small businesses.
No matter how big or small, every internet user is a target. The weaker the security systems, the more susceptible you are to being noticed and ambushed. As you can see, the damage that an attack can do is something that no one wants to be laid blame for. It is a mess that takes a long time to clean up and, in some cases, may not even be fixable.
Using Mobile App Security Software
One of the best ways to prevent a security breach is purchasing a software that monitors your app on a regular basis. Security software will check for any weak points or doorways in your system that a hacker could use to tap into your data. Having this in place will take the pressure off of you and put the task in more experienced hands, giving you the time you need to focus on your own specialties.
The moment an attack is attempted on your app or network, you will be notified and updated on the process that is being taken to rectify the issue. It is simply not worth it to go another day unprotected. Consider how much your business has at stake if something were to happen. Be sure that you are confident in the measures that you have taken. In this day and age, you can never be too safe.