8 Essential Tips for Creating a Secure Mobile App

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Mar 2017
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Author : Pete Peranzo

Mobile is everything today. We find it in every kind of business, in almost every household in America and in the hands of people all around the world. People tend to inherently trust these slick and easy interfaces, assuming that they’re free from danger. That kind of trust deserves to be respected by developers. It’s trust between companies and users that makes this whole process work.

Security should be a top priority for mobile app developers (assuming it’s not already).

What’s the primary cause of security trouble on mobile apps?

App misconfiguration is a leading cause of mobile security breaches. In fact, according to the research firm Gartner, 99% of mobile app breaches in the next three years will have been known issues that have been lingering for at least a year. The bottom line is that, though mobile technology development is progressing quickly, the fundamentals of security remain the basis for everything. Mobile app developers continue to neglect open security issues – but you don’t have to! Creating a secure mobile app involves some diligence and extra time. That time might seem onerous on the front end, however in the event of security breach, you’ll be glad you made the investment.

By and large, users are not at fault for app security issues. Gone are the days when problems arose from people opening a spammy email or visiting a suspicious site. Today, as mobile technology grows more prevalent, the problems are on the other side.

Eight ways to ensure mobile app security

What are the necessary steps for ensuring mobile app security? Here are eight things that you can do to make sure that your mobile applications aren’t vulnerable.

1. Secure the code

This has to happen from the server side of the application. Secure configuration practices and coding that is designed with breaches in mind starts you off on the right foot from the very beginning. Misconfiguration begins with coding, so get the API right and you’ve won half the battle.

2. Seal data leaks

Mobile applications can become sieves if not properly sealed up. There are a myriad of ways for data to be copied and drawn out, compromising the user and giving potential hackers everything they need. Look for screen captures, backup logs, caches, etc. that aren’t in the usual pattern for data leaks. If you haven’t found at least one leak during your testing process, then you’re probably not looking hard enough.

3. Solidify cryptography

A major breaking point in app development comes in the form of broken cryptography. Encryption algorithms need to be created with a serious level of power in order to keep malicious parties on the outside. It’s not uncommon for implementation architecture to be flawed in fundamental ways, leaving your application open and ripe for the picking from those with ill intent.

4. Create binary protections

There are so many risks out there for mobile applications. Tampering is a massive security threat, as is malicious analyzing. The bad guys are out there, and they’re savvy at reverse engineering mobile applications to create havoc with user data. Binary protection is a critical component for developers who are serious about preventing security breaches.

5. Check your storage

Though transit is where you’re most likely to find issues with security, that doesn’t mean it’s the only vulnerability. Data storage offers a massive potential for security breaches. Your storage of secure data needs to be encrypted and tested much in the same way that other aspects of your mobile application are tested for security. Keep in mind that hackers are often looking for the biggest bang for their efforts, and that can mean going to the place where they can get lots of it all at once – your server. Don’t assume that you’re safe unless you’ve tested your data storage site thoroughly.

6. Test, test, test

Testing is a necessary hassle that must be completed for security to be accurately assessed. Whether you choose to do testing in house or to outsource it, you’ll want to make sure that security is evaluated at every stage of app development. Don’t skimp on this portion of the process, you’ll regret it later.

7. Authenticate often

It’s a common assumption in mobile app development that authentication is a one time thing. In reality, it’s important to authenticate users with regularity in order to ensure that they’re properly vetted for security purposes. Don’t assume that because a user has been authorized securely once that they should be trusted to do anything and at any time. Though reauthorization can seem like a downer for the user, if you’re upfront that it’s in service of security, your users aren’t going to mind.

8. Patch constantly

Security is something that has to be revisited again and again. Even if your initial launch proves to be sufficiently prepped for in terms of security, you’re going to quickly find that you’re not ready for prime time next year unless you patch your app. Create a schedule for security work on your mobile apps and then make changes to remedy issues that crop up.

Making sure that your mobile app is designed and implemented with security concerns in mind should be a top priority for you as a developer. Though it can be easy to allow this issue to take a backseat to other user interface challenges that are more visible in the marketplace, potential catastrophe looms if you do. Weaving security considerations in throughout the development process is the most effective way to ensure your app’s long term success, as well as to live through integrity for your customers.

The best way to ensure that your mobile app is secure is to have trusted, experienced mobile application developers. If you are thinking of creating a mobile app, but have security concerns, contact us. We’d love to help you out!

 

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