In today’s world, the phone has access to practically all of our personal and sensitive information, from conversations to healthcare records and bank account information. When data becomes a valuable resource, many people want to profit from it, but some of them are unwilling to ask your permission first. As a result, mobile app security is not a benefit or a feature, it is a bare necessity. App security should be a priority at any given time to avoid any sort of information breach.
When you consider our current relationship with our smartphones containing mobile apps, you’ll realize that a large portion of our life-critical data is floating around in cyberspace, accessible to a plethora of hackers. One breach and the criminal has direct access to our name, age, home address, account details, and even our current location within a few meters.
With all this at stake, we understand that native mobile apps are a target focus for all malicious activities and thus there is a dire need to practice mobile app security right from the developing stage.
What is mobile app security?
It is the process of examining and testing mobile applications, web applications, and APIs to ensure that they are safe from potential attacks. Alternatively, it is the process of protecting high-value mobile applications and your digital identity from all types of fraud.
Some examples of application security are malware, tampering, key loggers, reverse engineering or any other form of interference or manipulation.
Common threats to mobile app security
- Insecure communication: Data is often shared in a client-server method in apps. When the app sends data, it does so through the internet and then through the mobile device’s carrier network. Attackers could take advantage of mobile security flaws to intercept users’ data or sensitive information as it travels across the network.
- Data leakage: When downloading an app, users frequently fill up prompts to begin using it without thoroughly considering the application’s permissions. This pattern can be used by some apps to obtain more information about users for future advertising purposes or to resell it for a hefty amount.
- Insecure data storage: It can occur in a variety of locations throughout your mobile app, including cookies stores, binary data stores, and databases. The risk of employing an insecure data storage system is that it could be hacked owing to problems with frameworks, jailbroken devices, or malicious attacks. If an attacker acquires access to a database or device, they can alter a legitimate app to extract data for their own use.
- Reverse engineering: If an attacker can see one’s code, they will be able to devise more effective attacks against one’s application. It can be used to figure out how the program works on the back end, edit the source code, and reveal encryption mechanisms in use, among other things. As a result, the code written for a mobile app could be exploited against the developer, posing serious security threats.
- Inadequate logging and monitoring: Logs and audit trails provide visibility into all network operations, allowing your firm to quickly troubleshoot faults, detect incidents, and track occurrences. They’re also beneficial for meeting regulatory standards. Inadequate or incorrect logging and monitoring generate information gaps, making it difficult to prevent and respond to a security problem.
- Cryptography problems: Mobile cryptography protects data and applications, and it’s essential for security. Developers may employ encryption algorithms that have known flaws or don’t utilize encryption at all. Threat actors can take advantage of these flaws or steal data from a hacked mobile device.
Now, let us discuss the practices that should be followed by the developers and/or the users to keep their mobile apps safe and secure.
- Strong authentication enforcement: Developers should make sure that their applications preferably take strong alphanumeric passwords. It’s also worth requiring users to update their passwords on a regular basis. Biometric identification employing facial ID or fingerprints can improve security for particularly sensitive applications.
- Source code security: Because the majority of code in a native mobile app is client-side, mobile malware may readily trace faults and vulnerabilities in the source code and design. Reverse-engineering is commonly used by attackers to repackage well-known programs into malicious ones. After that, they post the programs to third-party app stores in order to lure unwary consumers. Encrypting the source code, which ensures that it cannot be read, can be considered a good way to defend your application from these attacks.
- Code obfuscation: Obfuscation is the process of changing the application’s source code into something unreadable and is difficult to read by humans. Before developing the application, this is generally done by automated tools. The only purpose is to make reverse-engineering your source code from a generated application more difficult. Developers should incorporate tools to discover and address security problems when designing applications.
- Secured server and network connections: Because of dangers such as man-in-the-middle attacks through WiFi and cellular networks, IT developers should encrypt all communications between mobile apps and app servers. If your server is hacked, one is most likely to lose the app’s data, along with his/her users’ confidence, and the brand’s reputation.
- Best and latest cryptography implementation: If you want your encryption efforts to pay off, key management is essential. Never hard code the keys because this makes them easy to steal for attackers. Keep your keys in a safe place and never save them locally on your device. Even the most widely used cryptographic algorithms, such as MD5 and SHA1, are frequently insufficient to meet the constantly changing security needs. This is why it’s critical to stay current with security algorithms, and to employ encryption methods like AES with 512-bit encryption, 256-bit encryption, and SHA-256 for hashing whenever possible.
- Scanning and testing: By testing the applications for malicious intent, malware and adware can be eliminated. Virtual sandboxing and signature-based scanning technologies can both be used to detect malware. Malware scans should be run on the server for mobile workspace and virtual mobile solutions.
- Backend security: A client-server approach is used in the vast majority of mobile applications. Because the authentication and API transport protocols change from one platform to the next, it’s important to double-check all APIs for the mobile platform you’re working on. One needs to always check who is accessing the services and keep critical data in memory to a minimum.
- Data caching optimization: Cached data is typically stored on mobile devices to improve the performance of an app. As a result, those particular apps and devices become more vulnerable, and attackers can easily hack and decode the cached data; which results in frequent data stealing. If the nature of the data is particularly confidential, one can demand a password to use the app. This will help to mitigate the risks connected with cached data.
- Secured APIs: Unauthorized APIs that aren’t well-coded can unintentionally provide a hacker access to sensitive information. APIs are used for the majority of jobs nowadays, and ignoring them could result in substantial security risks. Even though it makes a coder’s life easier, it also provides a backdoor for attackers to take advantage of privileges.
Always keep in mind that security isn’t something you can put up like a structure and then forget about. You must monitor and review security policies and practices in a proactive and comprehensive manner. The most important or crucial thing is to provide current solutions to the problem.
Startxlabs, one of India’s top digital transformation service providers. Launched in 2014, Startxlabs aims in innovating a digital future by developing technology for the web and mobile platforms. From our beginning as a technology development company, we’ve tried to stay true to our core beliefs and to deliver exceptional services to our clients. Whether it’s people we work for or people who work for us, we value honesty, passion, and the desire to explore. We have expertise in website development, android app development, iOS app development, Flutter, React Native app development, UI/UX design, and marketing strategy. With the engagement of our highly technical team, we have delivered over 110+ projects providing a positive impact on the users.