The fact that mobile apps makes tasks appear simple and helps businesses drive sales is contributing to its rising popularity. Nowadays, almost every sector uses mobile apps to share sensitive data that include personal information and details about online transactions. Mobile apps, like any other programs, are vulnerable to security threats. With the new enhancements that happen in mobile app development, hackers will be in search of new ways to break into the system. That’s why integrating security into mobile app development process has become necessary now more than ever.
Some of the major security issues in mobile app development process include:
• App development platforms aren’t 100% threat free
There are plenty of mobile app development platforms to choose from. But, there’s no guarantee that any of them are free from vulnerabilities. Apple’s iOS platform is considered the most secure of all as every app undergoes screening before being accepted for the users. However, the screening process cannot identify a hacker or how threatening a program is. Same applies to Android platforms where the users themselves review the apps as good and bad.
• Using codes from third-parties
Mobile app development is a time-consuming process. Therefore, the developers end to use the code from other developers for ease. Hackers use this to their advantage by creating codes that the developers may end up using thereby giving the hackers access to the vital and confidential information especially after the app’s release. Using codes developed by third-parties isn’t a crime. You just have to go through the code line by line to ensure that there aren’t any threats before using it for an app.
• Threats due to data caching
Unlike desktops and laptops, mobile devices tend to perform caching i.e., storing short-term information to the longest amount of time possible. This gives the hackers an opportunity to access the cached data. Setting a password for the app is a solution to the issue. However, most users find it inconvenient to use a password. Therefore, the best method is to develop the app in such a way that the cached data is automatically erased every time the mobile device restarts.
• Rushing the security testing process
In order to keep up with the launch date of the app, developers tend to skip or hurry up the security testing process. Remember, when you do so, you are putting your app users at risk and breaking their trust. Test every area of the app where security threat is possible, ranging from cameras and sensors to the development platform itself.
While testing, do not let the users access crash and debug logs. This is where hackers begin looking for vulnerabilities in an app. Android debug logs are usually erased every time a mobile device reboots. However, the app is prone to security vulnerabilities until then. Also, disable the NSLog statements on iOS to ensure an app’s security.
• Using a weak encryption or not using one at all
Advancements in technology have made it easy for hackers to easily crack into encryption algorithms. Therefore, using a weak encryption or not using one at all can put all sensitive data in the app at risk especially when the users perform financial transactions. Popularity of the app can determine its chances of hacking, more popular apps tend to be hacked more often. Therefore, your app should have a good encryption to make it to the top.
• Not planning against physical security breaches
A mobile device being stolen or lost isn’t the developer’s fault. However, he/she can still implement ways to ensure the app’s security even under such circumstances by including local session time out code to the development process. Sometimes, users have to enter a password to access an app the may be automatically stored to make it easier for the user to log in the next time. However, with the session timeout, the password will be erased, ensuring the app’s security.
• Not ensuring secure communication with servers
Most apps that deal with sensitive information tend to connect back to a server. Therefore, it’s necessary to ensure that the communication is secure. Obviously, you don’t want any risks from an unsafe Wi-Fi connection. In such cases, encryption and SSL certificates can help assure safety.
Benefits of integrating security into mobile app development process
One of the common mistakes that the mobile app developers often make is to wait until the completion of mobile app development process to integrate security measures. Instead, they must prepare and execute the security measures right from the beginning stages of the mobile app development process to secure the app from possible threats. It helps to:
• Safeguard privacy of the users
It’s important for companies to maintain users’ privacy for them to trust you. Therefore, developers must come with security options that protect sensitive data from hackers
• Protect personal information from cyber attackers
There have been reports of people receiving fake bank calls recently. Where do you think they get people’s numbers from? Hackers find it easy to break into the personal information of people that include contact numbers if the apps they use aren’t safe enough. Therefore, it’s important for the developers to design the apps by keeping up with the security protocols.
• Improve sales
Once you assure your customers that their personal information and details of their financial transactions are secure, they’ll keep coming back to you for your products and services. This in turn helps your business to drive sales and to improve brand awareness
• Secure app from cyber-attacks in future
While determining security measures, you get to identify various kinds of risks and thereby ensure the safety of mobile apps from cyber-attacks in future
Consider all potential security vulnerabilities to secure a mobile app before it reaches the users. Also, perform security updates even after the app’s release to prevent the hackers from cracking the app in future.