Best Mobile Security Practices for App Developers

Mobile apps do outperform websites in many ways. It is why more and more businesses are relying on mobile apps to enter the global market. That is why mobile app security is something that cannot just be ignored or put secondary to web security.

Among the 5.19 billion mobile phone users, 4.54 billion are internet users. A virus that goes viral is deadly to the global, digital community. Mobile app security must be a top priority; for an unsecured mobile app is an app at risk.

Mobile app developers decide a vast number of privacy-related decisions on data collections and usage. Several barriers discourage app developers from enhancing their security practices, like drafting and reading privacy policies. However, this should not deter them from prioritizing mobile app security for the sake of their consumers and the integrity of their brand or company.

App security is an absolute requirement. One data leakage could cost your company’s reputation, not to mention a lot of money and risks of lawsuits.

What good are a mobile app’s design, intuitiveness, and usability if it is a ticking time bomb for a cyber-attack or data breach?

A massive proportion of our life-critical data is circulating in the cloud, open to a slew of cybercriminals.

With one break-in, cybercriminals can get illegal access to a plethora of sensitive data.   Enterprises and their CEOs are a common target because of the highly confidential information for which attackers will earn wads of cash from once they get a hold of it. Usually, these hackers sell the data they steal to third-party hackers for different malicious and destructive purposes.

It is why cybersecurity is a trillion-dollar industry. Enterprises and their CEOs are a common target because of the highly confidential information for which attackers will earn wads of cash from once they get a hold of it. Usually, these hackers often sell the stolen data to third-party hackers for different malicious and destructive purposes.

With all these risks and more, mobile app developers must do their utmost to protect their users and consumers.

What is Mobile App Security?

Mobile app security is a defense against malicious software and cyber-attacks. The various technologies and implementation methods used in mobile app security are aimed at countering all kinds of cybercrime and data breaches faced by mobile devices and apps.

Open frameworks like Android are more susceptible to MITM or man-in-the-middle attacks, data theft, fraud, broken cryptography, and unauthorized access.

Mobile security is not just critical. It must be a requirement for all legitimate mobile app developers across all platforms. Trustworthiness and systems integrity must be a recipe without which an app should never be served to consumers.   Here are some advantages of a secure mobile app:

  • Prevention of data-loss, damage, theft, and tampering
  • Defense against from malicious advertising
  • Detecting and eradicating malware and virus attacks
  • Avoiding expensive lawsuits and reputation damage

Indeed, the lack of mobile app security cannot be ignored. Here are some of the best practices mobile app developers can employ to secure their apps.

Best Mobile Security Practices for App Developers

1. Use Server-Side Authentication

Multifactor authorization permissions are typically issued on the server-side and only usable when the approval is completed. If the app needs data to be saved on the consumer side and accessible on the device, make sure it will only access the encrypted data after the credentials are authenticated successfully.

When utilizing permanent authentication or a feature called “remember me,” be cautious not to save the login details on the device and generate different tokens for your other devices.

2. Write a Secure Code

Application bugs, flaws, and vulnerabilities are the easy ways for a break-in by cyber attackers. You can want and reverse and exploit your code, and you do need a public copy of your software for this. Data reveals that malicious code affects over 11.6 million mobile devices at any given moment.

Keep your code secure and use hardening technology and signature app the onset, rendering it impossible to hack. You need to obfuscate and minify the coding such that it can not be reverse-engineered.

Track and repair vulnerabilities regularly and build your code, so upgrading and patching are simple. Please check that the code is agile so that it can be revised after a breach at the consumer-side.

3. Use Key Management Best Practices and Cryptographic Algorithms

One technique to eliminate encryption-related abuses is to prohibit confidential details from being saved on a mobile device. It involves hard-coded keys and passwords which can be put on the registry in plain text or used by a hacker.

iOS is covered to avoid reverse engineering through code encryption in theory. However, it’s necessary to remember that this isn’t a flawless approach, and you can still presume that attackers will decrypt consumer details.

If we introduce low key management techniques, the world’s most efficient encryption algorithm will not deter an attack. For example, if your app is not protected from binary attacks, keys may be intercepted when authentication responses travel from the server.

Never use algorithms that have been discarded or disapproved by the security community and do not attempt to build your encryption protocols unless you are a specialist in cryptography.

4. Be Extra Cautious With Libraries

Be doubly cautious when using third-party libraries, and test code extensively before using it in your app. Specific libraries can be too unstable for your app. For illustration, the GNU C Library has a security loophole allowing attackers to run malicious code and crash a system remotely.

Only after seven years did this vulnerability got exposed. To secure the apps from library flaws, developers can use controlled internal libraries and exercise policy controls during acquisition.

5. Use Authorized APIs Only

Unauthorized and poorly coded APIs will inadvertently offer hacker privileges that will be misused and abused. For starters, storing permission information locally allows programmers to reuse details quickly when accessing an API.

Indeed, it makes it easier for coders when APIs are easier to use. However, it also makes it easier for attackers to hijack privileges. Experts suggest that APIs be centrally approved for optimal protection.

6. Use High-Level Authentication

Because some of the most severe security vulnerabilities arise due to inadequate authentication, stronger authentication is becoming extremely necessary.

Authentication applies to keys and other unique markers serving as entry barriers. Most of this depends on the application’s end-users, so as a creator, you should motivate the users to be more cautious with authentication.

You can build your applications only to accept strong alphanumeric passwords that have an expiration. You can require password changes every quarter or bi-annually.

Promote multifactor authentication involving a mixture of static passwords and adaptive OTP. Biometric identification through retina and fingerprint scans can also be used for enabled devices.

7. Deploy Tamper-Detection Technologies

There are methods for alerting coders whether someone is trying to hack code or insert malicious code. Strong tamper detection and prevention must be utilized to ensure sure the code would not work if changed.

8. Validate All User Inputs to Meet Sanity Check Standards

When checking the reliability of your data, hackers are opportunistic. They identify all conceivable acceptability for malformed data on your web.

Input validation is a technique allowing only intended data can be transmitted through an input field. For instance, if a picture is uploaded, the file should have an extension that corresponds to normal file extensions.

If your image input validation has no constraints forbidding arbitrary pixel counts or file sizes, a hacker could upload a malicious file pretending to be an image.

Form fields, audio, video, command-line inputs, and all other input fields, are prone to this vulnerability, which was to blame for the first jailbroken iPhone.

9. Use the Principle of Least Privilege

The least privilege theory requires that code can operate with just the permissions it needs and no more. Your app should not ask for more privileges than the minimum it requires.

Don’t make unnecessary network connections, and perform continuous threat modeling as you update your code.

10. Use Correct Session Handling

Mobile sessions last longer than desktop sessions. It makes session management more challenging for the server. So, use tokens instead of device IDs to mark sessions.

Tokens may be removed at any time, especially in case of missing and stolen devices. Enable remote data wiping from a lost/stolen computer and allow remote log-off.

11. Install Robust Cryptography Tools and Best Strategies

Key management is critical for encryption. Never hard-code the keys as it’s convenient for thieves to hack. Store keys in locked containers and never keep them locally.

Even widely used cryptographic protocols MD5 and SHA1 have inadequate security standards. Discover the latest and most trusted APIs, like the 256-bit AES encryption with SHA-256 for hashing.

12. Create Threat Models For Data Defense

Threat modeling is a tool used to analyze better the issues that arise and employ the best defensive tactics against them.

A well-informed threat model means the team understands how different OS, platforms, frameworks, and external APIs transmit and store data. Built on frameworks and linking to third-party APIs will expose you to inefficiencies.

13. Obfuscate To Avoid Reverse Engineering

Prevent reverse engineering by having the necessary skills and tools to create credible UI replicas of a mobile app without accessing source code. Commercial-grade obfuscation techniques are accessible to render company logic-less and almost impossible to comprehend.

Developers use indentation to render their code more human-readable, but the computer does not really worry about correct formatting. That’s why minification, which excludes all gaps, retains accessibility but makes it tougher for hackers to decipher code.

14. Repeatedly Test Your App

Securing the software is never finished. New challenges arise, requiring new solutions. Enable repeated penetration testings, threat modelings, and emulators to check the vulnerabilities of your apps. Do testings as many times as you need, update your apps, and fix issues that arise with testing.

Conclusion: Best Practices = Best Protection

Cyber protection must be a high priority for any mobile app developer, whatever the niche of that app may be. Hackers have no bias as to what niche they attack. They will attack as long as there are vulnerabilities and flaws to exploit. It is critical to developing a holistic security strategy and the best practices to keep your data, privacy, and payments safe.

App security is an ongoing and never-ending task. If you need to outsource professional suppliers and solutions that can help you provide the best security for your apps, then do so. It is the app developer’s responsibility to provide a highly secure environment for payment processing and data transmission.

Your team must also know and practice cyber protection at all fronts of the business and app development. Even in their own devices and computers used for work, they must install the best antivirus apps for their mobile devices.

The best security practices will only lead to the best protection for your team, your app, and, eventually, your consumers.

AUTHOR BIO

Mayleen Meñez worked for seven years in TV and Radio production, and also as a Graphic Artist/Editor. Finding her true passion, she devoted 15 years in NGO and community development work, where she experienced being a coordinator and teacher, travelling both in the Philippines and countries in Asia.

She homeschools her three kids and reinvents Filipino dishes in her spare time. Writing has always been a hobby and pursuit, and she recently added content writing with Softvire Australia and Softvire New Zealand up her sleeve, while preparing for her next adventure in the nations.

One Comment

  1. Hello Mr.Author,
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