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10 Ways to Boost Your App’s Security

Shailesh Patel
ibef

The security of a mobile app is important not just because insecure mobile apps make the end-user vulnerable but also because it strengthens the app, thereby ensuring the peace of mind of the development team as well as of the people who own the app. In reality, many inexperienced app development teams start considering this very late in the development process. This article explains the 10 most important security aspects one should keep in mind while developing a mobile app.

1. Lack of Understanding of the Operating System and its Usage

The risk generally arises when the developer misuses a feature of the operating system or fails to use the OS security controls appropriately. This could also arise because of Android intentions, platform permissions, or keychains, as well as other security controls built in the platform. Apps affected by this issue can suffer a severe impact, as it is very common and can be easily detected by hackers and crackers.

The risks involved:

Applications can accidentally or otherwise cause a platform to be vulnerable in several ways. There can be issues not only with the apps themselves but also with the OS.

Improper platform usage can be seen in examples such as:

Exploiting Android Intent for Data Leakage Apps and the Android platform communicate through the Android intent system. A device's intents can be mishandled and misused by an attacker to expose protected data or to execute unintended actions.
Permissions for Android files In the Android ecosystem, many apps are primarily designed to steal information from the user's intent. These apps can analyze URL patterns and user information as they are transmitted between a genuine app and an Android component.
IOS Keychain RiskiOS' secure Keychain should be used to store all sensitive and security data, including passwords, keys, and certificates. Apps that store sensitive data in-app local storage are more vulnerable to being hacked.
IOS TouchID Risk By adding this layer of verification, iOS users can use their devices more securely. App developers, however, may store the fingerprint incorrectly (such as with LocalAuthentication), which is difficult to detect.

What can be done to prevent this risk?

It is essential to understand and strictly follow platform development guidelines so as not to create vulnerabilities. To prevent loose implementation of controls, it is recommended to follow best practices when creating features like iOS Keychain, Touch ID, and Android Intents. The user can also restrict apps from communicating with other apps, so they do not become major exploits and/or cause significant damage to their reputation.

2. Secure the Network Connections

Servers that access mobile apps must have proper security measures in place so they can protect data and prevent any unauthorized access. Anyone accessing a server must verify it. By following simple steps, one can safeguard important data passed from client to server and vice versa. In addition to adding extra security through VPNs (virtual private networks), consideration can be given to other security measures such as containerization, which allows you to create encrypted containers to store data. Securing data correctly is quite important since network connections are commonly used for data leakage.

3. Reduce Storage of Sensitive Data.

Ensure that you only store as little data as required within your services or on a device. The risk levels are only raised by these. Data protection must be properly understood and data should be protected in many ways, depending on the company's needs, including establishing rules for handling it, implementing technical controls to ensure it is properly handled, and educating users on how to keep the data secure. Ensure that sensitive data is stored in the server database, and store only non-sensitive information that is needed to run the application. To ensure your users can accomplish their tasks while offline, it is recommended to determine what data will be required to complete their tasks. Further the data should be encrypted and all sensitive information should be either removed or kept to bare minimum.

4. Restrain Data from Leaking

Every mobile application asks for permission to access certain data from the app users. Also, users ignore permissions when downloading and installing applications, as they accept them without going into the details. Bad data security practices or accidental data leaks are some of the most common causes of data leaks. Use secure providers, advertise to the public, and set up alerts whenever a data breach is suspected. Apps with many customers are releasing their clients' data without the knowledge of the user. To prevent data theft, ensure that the data being collected in the background is not accessible by other users or unwanted people.

5. Use High Level Authentication

An adversary can log into the app with default credentials if a mobile device fails to recognize user credentials correctly. By faking or bypassing authentication protocols that may be wrongly implemented or missing, the attackers can directly access servers during the hack through malware on the device or botnets, without having to communicate with the app directly. A malicious actor can access functions and transactions within a mobile app or backend server if the authentication procedures of the app or server can be bypassed, thereby risking material theft and data theft if an attacker gains additional privileges. This type of breach will definitely damage the customers' trust.

Mobile app authentication can be poor in many ways:

  1. The requirement of only four digits for password authentication is weak.
  2. Devices that store passwords for mobile apps might be compromised.
  3. Local authentication, as opposed to requiring internet access, particularly when offline use is required.
  4. It may not require access tokens for execution requests or compromise platform authentication features such as TouchID.

Following these best practices will help protect against this type of threat and make mobile authentication more secure:

  1. An authentication process that takes place on the server rather than loaded only after successful authentication.
  2. Keeping passwords off the device.
  3. Using authentication methods that cannot be spoofed, such as geolocation and device identifiers, is the only authentication means.
  4. Using two-factor authentication or multi-factor authentication combines standard username and password information as well as other secret data.
  5. Ensure that characters other than alphanumeric are required for passwords. A developer can request the user to identify an image or a word before the app is allowed access. Authentication methods using two factors are gaining popularity.

6. Encrypt All Data

Data encryption keeps hackers from accessing stolen data since the data will become meaningless without the key. It is perhaps one of the fundamental things that makes app security possible. Without data encryption access to most personal information would become very easy. For this reason, you should rely on this technology when developing mobile apps. To add extra security to your app, you could use anything from SSL to TLS. Encrypting the data on your local device should be a top priority as it is the most vulnerable. Once you have your cloud server up and running, you can move forward.

7. Back up the Data

All data and the servers are stored on the back end. The developers of an app are in charge of determining all the features and functionalities of the app. Secure your backend so that all spiteful attacks can bounce so that you can enjoy the best security. A backend attack might result in losing all your customers. Most APIs do not assume that any app can interact with them unless it was specifically written to do so. Although in reality, this is not the case, because transport mechanisms and API authentication can differ from platform to platform, all APIs should be checked for compatibility with the mobile platform. That is why the backend is important. The developer you choose should be able to maintain your security perfectly so you do not have data breaches.

8. Unnecessary functionalities

Unnecessary functionality can be anything associated with development or update, such as switches, test codes, log files, backdoor, or unsecured admin endpoints.

Why is this a problem?

This can cause a variety of problems for the app owner, depending on the nature of the unnecessary functionality. Hackers can gain access to the back end of a system, be able to execute admin-level commands or access functionality that normal users would not normally have access to.

How can we improve the situation?

App developers should run several checks to detect backdoor or external features in an application before releasing it or updating it. Included in this are:

  1. Verifying the code with the assistance of an independent third party.
  2. All API endpoints are examined and documented.
  3. Examining log statements for details and descriptions.
  4. Testing all final releases before release.
  5. Verify that access to extra functionality hasn't been accidentally granted through configuration settings.

9. Make Security a Priority

During the planning and development phases, security should always be a top priority. There is a risk that native applications could be targeted more often than web-based applications. Since the code is stored on the device once it is downloaded, it will always be accessible. Consequently, developing secure code should be a priority for developers.You can expose your code to severe vulnerabilities if you do not test it. Hackers can easily obtain personal information by using just a single mistake in the code. Using encrypted code with a carefully tested set of security vulnerabilities can help you avoid that. Your app may have been uploaded and made available in the App Store, but that does not guarantee its safety. It is a good idea to keep in mind that many applications are insecure, so you can never be sure.

10. Staying Up to Date

You must ensure that the information of your app users is secure and protected. There is an unfortunate trend in which cybercriminals and hackers continually look for loopholes in online systems, mobile apps, and websites. Security facilities don't work for a long time. Hackers will eventually find a loophole in your system no matter how secure it is. Staying up to date keeps you protected from the latest exploits being spread by hackers. You'll already be implementing your tenth security facility by the time they find a loophole in your 7th. For app development companies, updating their apps is important to fix any security loopholes in their apps and to keep their security features up to date. It is suggested that you adjust the settings on your phone so that it will update automatically.

Conclusion

The security risks posed by cyberattacks and data breaches must be understood by app developers. Usability and user interface are not the only factors to consider, a lot of attention must be paid to security. As you develop an application, security should be your top priority. Following this article's suggestions will definitely help you create a better and more secure version of your app.