7 Tips for Better Mobile Application Security

Attomus / Blog

Today we have another guest post from Regi Publico, looking at the how developers can secure their mobile applications

Smartphones nowadays are powerful enough to match what laptops can do. Not only are they portable and easy to carry, but they are also essential beacons of communication and information that have become an integral part of our everyday lives.

Due to its many advantages, the use of mobile technology is exponentially rising. Work landscapes and life as we know it has evolved rapidly because of the pandemic. People are now working from anywhere, and having a smartphone is not just a ‘must-have’—it is already a requirement to stay connected wherever we are in the world.

Mouse pointer clicking on security button

Since we can do almost anything with our phones—from engaging in immersive games, controlling appliances to finishing workloads (and even settling our bills) — many applications get developed to cater to the needs of the modern world.

Mobile Application Security

Mobile programs increase our productivity through convenient services available across the internet, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and servers. As more data gets uploaded in the cloud, the more personalised the experience becomes. 

However, attacks on mobile apps has also become more prone to breaches and cyber threats because of the vast data in these systems and the broad attack surface. Businesses and app developers must come together to strengthen their cyber resilience by developing a better security wall within their applications and databases. 

So, here are some ways that can help improve your mobile application security:

  1. Encrypt data

    As much as possible, do not keep user data in your servers to avoid risks. Use encryption and secure data in containers, use key chains, and utilise cookies if you need to store user data. Logs must also be deleted from time to time automatically, both from a security standpoint and to confirm with GDPR and other privacy legislation. 

    Although encrypting alone cannot prevent data hacks, it will lower the risks of decoding actual information from your users. This also helps in protecting consumer trust which can have a high investment return through loyalty.

  2. Prevent data from being lost or leaked

    You need to invest in keeping your users’ sensitive data through a Data Loss Prevention (DLP) strategy. DLP is a measure to protect intellectual property, corporate data, and consumer data from breaches. Also, having a DLP tool strengthens data security by allowing apps to be eligible to HIPAA regulations, which can further strengthen the credibility of your offering.

    When users install and sign up for your app, they must agree upon certain permissions before using the app. This is the part where historically users skip past reading it because of its length and they simply accept it immediately. But, this is the right way to inform your users that you implement permissions accordingly, not just letting it get by for businesses or third parties to use for advertising or other agendas. Set the standard for others to follow.

  3. Secure data in transit

    Information from the user that goes to your servers is vulnerable to privacy leaks and data theft. Developers must ensure the security of the data, whether it is traveling across a public or private network. It is easy to modify or access data by unwanted systems, so tunnels must have support to lessen the risk of data in transit security issues.

  4. Secure API endpoints

    Back-end APIs must be secured to ensure safety from attack - both denial and direct attempts to access data or access your system. These should be aligned based on the operating system as transport mechanisms and API authentication differ from one to another.

  5. Enforce High-Level Authentication

    Nowadays, apps require password complexity - be it a combination of capital and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Some are now adding additional protections such not allowing users to include a part of their name or email address in their password. This forces the user to make a stronger password and be more careful protecting their data. 

    Further, more apps are now encouraging their users to activate two-factor authentication (2FA) when logging in to their accounts. The premise is that when you log in, the password is not enough; it requires a second code that is sent to your mobile number or email address. This ties not just something that the user knows, but something that they have - giving increased confidence that the user logging in is indeed the person intended. Some apps require a fingerprint or retinal scanning instead of a code. All of these mechanisms enhance the protection of your app because you can lessen breaches when you have a strong authentication method. It also makes the users feel more secure when using your app.

  6. Align to Policies

    You need to be aware of the limitations and security features of several operating systems when developing an app. Operating systems such as Android and iOS have different support systems when it comes to encryption and password management. 

    Code accordingly when you plan to launch your app to multiple platforms by researching and ensuring your understanding platform-specific limitations.

  7.  Perform Thorough and Constant Testing

    Test your app before publishing it, not only to see if it functions as it should be but also for security checks. Generate random security attack scenarios to identify security issues and fortify your app against them. Also, review your source code for bugs and vulnerabilities - there are a multitude of tools that can help you, feel free to get in contact to learn more.

    When you launch your app to the users, do not stop testing it from time to time. Security must be monitored constantly as developers fix detected issues.

Quality checks and security planning are the keys to better mobile security

Aside from convenience, security should also be a top-of-mind priority of companies in developing their applications. Quality checks must be completed regularly along with contingency plans in case of data breaches and cybersecurity issues. Plan ahead, don’t find yourself reacting if the unthinkable happens.

With a stable and secured app, you can prevent hackers from stealing sensitive information from your users. It is also a positive that allows you to differentiate your offering - leading to positive reviews and commercial success.

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