Mobile application security cannot be considered an advantageous aspect or additional feature in today’s constantly changing and highly advancing technology environment. Instead, application security has become essential for the success of mobile apps, which should be considered before starting a mobile app development project.
Application security should remain a primary concern for all app developers. This is because even a slight breach or loophole in app development security can pose a serious risk to data stored in application servers, and it might even end up destroying the reputation of your organization.
A recent report shared by the tech giant IBM revealed that the cost of corporate data breaches is estimated to be 3.92 million dollars on average. Another report shared by Techjury.net pointed out that mobile users have increased by more than 10 percent in just one year.
The Need For Mobile App Security
The number of mobile applications in leading app stores is estimated to be more than 5.5 million at present. This indicates that the mobile application market is flooded. Most mobile users also prefer not to use older applications, and they are looking for new ones.
Mobile applications have to be designed beautifully, provide value, and users should be able to use them easily. In addition to that, several parameters such as functionality, performance, and compatibility need to be tested thoroughly. However, above all, developers should follow the best practices for building secure mobile apps.
Privacy And Security Checklist For Mobile App Development
Thoroughly Evaluate Open Source Codes
Third-party libraries and open-source codes are changing the world of mobile app development. They have helped in the speeding up of mobile app deployment and development. Did you know that the open-source codes in enterprise applications can be as much as 90 percent?
However, one of the major issues with third-party codes is that they have been identified as the primary reason behind security vulnerabilities multiple times. Fortunately, app developers will be able to build a mobile application from scratch, considerably reducing the chance of reverse-engineering open-source applications.
It is also important to note that exhaustive mobile app security testing helps businesses to guarantee that the open-source code will not make the application vulnerable. In addition to that, mobile app developers should know the common vulnerabilities with open source apps.
Use A Code Signing Certificate
Multiple steps are included in the process of code signing, and it usually starts with a unique key pair creation. The created key pair will be the public-private key pair, as code signing uses public-key cryptography. After the creation of the key pair, the public key will be sent to a trusted CA (Certificate Authority).
The Certificate Authority will verify that the public key belongs to the owner by returning the public key and a digitally signed certificate to the developer. The CA is a highly reputed and trusted entity responsible for generating and signing digital certificates.
The digitally signed code signing certificate and the key returned by the Certificate Authority confirm the trustworthiness and authenticity of the developer and their software or apps.
Once the CA returns the key and the certificate, the software code will be run through the hash function. A hash function can be described as a one-way function, which transforms the text that is added into the function into a complex and arbitrary mix of values or characters. This will, in turn, offer a value that can be compared with the data sent to customers.
The output will be encrypted by using the private key. The private key is used for encryption instead of the public key because developers want others to access and read the message, but they don’t want anyone to tamper with the message.
The hash function, code signing certificate, and digest will be combined to form a signature block, which will be placed into the software solution sent to customers.
Mobile developers should consider using code signing certificates issued by reputed and trusted CA or Certificate authorities. Code signing certificate will transform the app code into a complex undecipherable format, which will, in turn, protect the web developer’s authenticity along with preventing the chance of hackers tampering with the code.
This is achieved by using a public-key cryptography method, which is the same type of cryptography method used in Secure Socket Layer Certificates. So, if you don’t want anyone to tamper with the code and ensure that the app is safe, then you should consider buying a cost-effective, cheap code signing certificate.
Secure The Code
Interestingly, most of the source code will be residing with clients or customers when it comes to mobile application development. This is why mobile app developers should consider obfuscating the source code to keep the code safe from cybercriminals and hackers.
This will make the app code confusing and unclear, which means that hackers will not be able to reverse engineer it. Instead, you can use software solutions for obfuscating the source code of mobile apps. These software solutions change the attribute names, methods, and classes into meaningless characters or letters.
Secure The Database
Sensitive customer information such as user credentials and payment information must be securely stored to urge customers to continue using the mobile application. However, this means that businesses will have to ensure that the security in both the mobile device and application is up to date.
Moreover, businesses will also need to encrypt the database on the user end to eliminate the chance of data breaches. Most app developers are well aware of the importance of sensitive data protection, so mobile applications are not allowed to store data in local storage.
Ensure HTTPS Communication
HTTPS or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure ensures greater security of data during transmission. TLS will encrypt the communication protocol. As mentioned earlier, SSL and TLS are cryptographic protocols, which guarantee data privacy over multiple communication channels.
HTTP data will be invalidated, unverifiable, and encrypted, which will make it easy for cybercriminals and hackers to spy, read, or access the data. As a result, mobile app developers need to use a valid SSL certificate on the webserver to which their mobile app is connected.
Periodically Test Applications
Several mobile app developers often fail to realize the fact that securing mobile apps is not a one-time task. This is because new security threats are emerging every single day. As a result, they will need to patch the threats by improving the mobile app and launching new updates.
A few years ago, the massive spread of NotPetya and WannaCry had alerted the developer community on why they should consider cybersecurity seriously, even though the spread of ransomware was mostly limited to desktop devices. The effectiveness and swiftness of the spread show why mobile applications need to be tested periodically.
Mobile users have become a lot more conscious regarding mobile app security and privacy over the years. As a result, most of them prefer to download and install apps only from Google Play, Amazon App Store, Apple App Store, and other trusted sources, as they trust these platforms.
As an application developer, you will need to add your app on such reliable and trusted platforms and ensure you have all essential mobile privacy and security measures in place to prevent cyberattacks.