Starting from bank lockers to medical data, security breaches can happen anytime and anywhere. In this digitalized world, a security breach can cause not only financial harm to a company but can also rob it of customer loyalty. When it comes to mobile apps that have become a part of our DNA now, a single break-in can leak personal as well as sensitive information to hackers and other cybercriminals.
With the high possibility of exposure to such type of information, developers need to take adequate precautions for iOS and Android mobile app security to protect their app and user data against cybercriminals. In the meantime, the User can use a secure VPN to protect himself.
This article covers 7 best practices for mobile app security for developers:
- Encrypt Your Source Code
- Implement User Authentication
- Use a Code-Signing Certificate
- Use Authorized APIs Only
- Use the Best Cryptography Tools
- Secure the Backend
- Be Careful with Third-Party Libraries
1. Encrypt Your Source Code
Core Architecture – A Vulnerable Spot
A mobile application is made with a combination of umpteen pieces of code. And this is how the core architecture of an application is formed. It won’t be shocking if one tells you that this is the most vulnerable zone of an application. Cybercriminals often try to break into a mobile application via the code only.
Tampering with App Codes
Several researches have shown that tampering with code has left an indelible impact on more than 11 million mobile applications so far. Hence, it is recommended to secure your code from the day you start building your mobile application.
Further Preventive Steps
A mobile application developer is recommended to build his app in a tougher coding language so that it becomes challenging for cybercriminals to break in. In addition to this, developers are suggested to minify the app’s code. Make updating and patching the code hassle-free. Keep in mind that the code needs to be agile so that it can be worked upon the moment a breach happens. Apply code signing and code hardening.
2. Implement User Authentication
What is Authentication?
Authentication is the act of using passwords that act as entry barriers. Believe it or not, one of the major reasons behind security breaches is the absence of high-level authentication. By inculcating a stronger authentication, one can make their users turn sensitive towards protecting their data via stronger especially alphanumeric passwords.
Ways to Strengthen Authentication
A developer is also recommended to set a renewal date for this password – either three or six months. In today’s era, a combination of static passwords and dynamic OTP are becoming prominent. Such a multi-factor authentication is effective. In addition to that, fingerprints, retina scans, and other kinds of biometric authentication can be used for apps having sensitive data.
3. Use a Code-Signing Certificate
What is a code-signing certificate?
A code signing certificate lets a developer sign a code via a private password or key. Users, on the other hand, are given a public password or key. In addition to this, a code signing certificate acts as a hallmark of trust for your mobile application. It’s a sort of reassurance that users get on using the mobile app. Keep in mind to renew your code signing certificate.
It ensures compliance
One of the best ways to ensure compliance and integrity is via a code signing certificate. A mobile app developer can get an economical code signing certificate easily. As mentioned above, it indicates that your mobile application hasn’t been tampered with.
4. Use Authorized APIs Only
Need for Authorized APIs
To integrate third-party services and elevate the functionality of your mobile app, APIs are more than important. This is something that allows your heterogeneous systems to interact seamlessly and initiate the exchange of data. But to make sure that your mobile app is secured, one needs to facilitate secure APIs.
Repercussions of Using Unauthorized APIs
Believe it or not, unauthorized APIs are much easier to use. But they can make the attackers gain access to your mobile app and can use personal user data as per their whims and fancies.
Ensuring API security
One of the best ways to ensure API security is via data access authorizations. For maximum Android mobile app security, it is mandatory to authorize APIs centrally. It is imperative to stick to the most reliable and latest APIs.
5. Use the Best Cryptography Tools
Hard Coding is the problem
The mobile app security checklist for most developers features hard coding on their keys via SHA1, MD5, and other such protocols. This makes breaking-in seamless for attackers. So, it is recommended to store your keys in SHA-256, 256-bit AES, and other cryptographic tools.
AES – A Latest and Reliable Tool
Abbreviated as AES, the Advanced Encryption Standard is one of the most popular and latest security algorithms that can be used as a cryptographic tool to safeguard your mobile app against attackers. It comprises a symmetric algorithm key. This implies that this very algorithm key not only encrypts but decrypts the data as well. Its other kinds include the 256-bit encryption as well as the 512-bit encryption.
6. Secure the Backend
Role of Backend Server
The backend of a mobile development app is tasked with managing the data storage, data processing, functionality as well and security of the app. To prevent data leaks via unauthorized access, it is imperative to secure the backend.
Encryption is the solution
Since all your app’s data is stored in the backend, it is obvious that you don’t want to pave the way to the misuse of this data by attackers. The only way out here is to initiate the encryption of all the data. In such a scenario, even if the attackers gain access to your backend, your data will remain secure.
Mistakes to Avoid
While securing your backend, it is important to avoid certain mistakes. The common ones include missing the version control system or the continuous integration. Other mistakes include neglecting edge cases or using a deprecated technology to encrypt data. Keep these commonly occurring mistakes in mind and try to avoid them as much as possible.
7. Be Careful with Third-Party Libraries
What are Third-Party Libraries?
These offer components, content, features, functionality as well as the software owned by third parties for an application. In some cases, it is freely distributed. In others, it may be sold by an entity.
Use reliable sources only
Most mobile app developers use third-party libraries to develop apps without putting in much time and effort. However, this makes the codes susceptible to security breaches by attackers. To prevent this, mobile app developers are recommended to mandatorily adopt mobile app security standards such as using codes from reliable sources. These may include exercising policy controls as well as putting controlled internal repositories to use.
So, there are a handful of ways in which you can secure your mobile application. However, a mobile app developer needs to stay constantly vigilant throughout the development process. Given the fast-paced digital world we are living in, mobile app security is encountering new threats now and then. And new solutions need to be devised for the same. So, while you are occupied with making your mobile application look aesthetic and working at lightning speed, it is essential to make sure that it does offer a safe and secure user experience on the table.