How to Protect Your Mobile Devices from an Attack

More than 67% of people in the world are mobile phone users. It is no wonder that use of mobile apps is increasing even amid the pandemic. Therefore, it is important to think about your mobile security.

As a matter of fact, the demand for mobile apps exponentially grew during the heat of the coronavirus outbreak, since social distancing measures had to be strictly enforced the world over.

A global demand for mobile and online applications in the new normal economy is fueling the robust growth of this tech industry beyond expectations. But another thing that surged during the global crisis are cybersecurity attacks and privacy breach. Threats against mobile security escalated rapidly. When users are not as keen on their mobile device security, it gives more vulnerabilities open for attackers to exploit.

An unsecured mobile app is a real danger to the user’s entire device and even network. Sensitive information, bank details and the like can usually be found on a mobile phone. A maliciously downloaded program on a mobile device can be dangerous, often discovered when the damage has already been done.

What is Mobile App Security?

Mobile app security is the extent of security that mobile apps have against malware and cybercrime. The different technologies and manufacturing processes used in the protection of mobile apps seek to reduce all kinds of threats to mobile devices due to the applications installed in them.

In open platforms such as Android, the threat continues to increase. It is twice as vulnerable to virus attacks, ransomware, and data breaches as its equivalent, iOS, which is closed or limited to Mac and iPhone users.

Android is more prone to MITM attacks (Man-in-the-Middle) and other forms of cyber threats, data breach, broken cryptography, and the like.

Read on to know how mobile app developers secure mobile apps and protect them and its users from the next cybersecurity and privacy attacks.

10 Mobile App Security Essentials

There are security measures that mobile app developers must take when building stable, safe apps:

1. Secure Source Code

Make sure your source codes are safe and are not accessible to just anyone. Your goal is that hackers and cyber criminals cannot reach or decipher the source code easily. This is called obfuscation.

Obfuscation is covering the code, making it vague, difficult to understand, and even confusing. This prevents cyber criminals from re-engineering the source code. Android, for example, has a built-in Pro-guard that obscures codes for meaningless and ambiguous characters.

2. Secure files and databases

You need to store your data, such as a customer account, credits, payment records, and the like on a secure device. Your storage needs to be secured as well, fully backed up and encrypted, with limited data access rights, so you can avoid data leakage at all costs.

3. Secure communication and data transfer

The transmission or communication of data must also be secure and encrypted. Hackers lurk for unprotected or unencrypted transmission of data. Sending and receiving data inside your mobile app needs to be done via secure media, via a VPN tunnel, TLS, SSL or HTTPS.

You stop eavesdroppers on your network requests, make your data unencryptable, and prevent packet-sniffing and MITM attacks.

4. Data portability

Data portability can use customer data across platforms and services. One of the most common examples is the ability to use your Google login information to log in to other applications and platforms. Facebook also uses data portability.

It enables apps to exploit the robust software protection of more popular companies while allowing users to apply private data and authentication from scratch. The registration process becomes more user-friendly and quicker.

5. Combat against reverse engineering

Android is more likely to attack reverse-engineering because it’s an open-source platform. In an open-source framework, anybody can check for source code and make OS modifications as per their requirements.

Not all users can do this, though, as you’d need some programming proficiency. Rather, it is highly recommended to protect source codes, to minimize the chance of tampering with wrong people to target you and your users.

6. Conduct data input validation

Input validation tests user data. It prevents malformed data from accessing your servers. Unfortunately, most mobile app developers don’t prioritize input validation. But because input validation is readily available in most mobile app frameworks, optimize this feature for added app security layer.

7. Data Encryption

In a time where attacks and data leakage can occur at any time, data encryption is a must, especially for mobile apps. Due to lack of mobile app protection, mobile apps often take most of the brunt in cyberattacks.

Broken cryptography is insecure use of cryptography, mostly in mobile applications using encryption. If the mobile app implements a weak or broken encryption-decryption algorithm, it means that hackers will automatically decode the codes and wreak havoc on your mobile app.

Avoid weak or broken algorithms, and use cryptography to encrypt your application and data.

8. Penetration Testing

Penetration testing, also known as pen testing, simulates a cyber-attack on your computer system to test for any vulnerabilities.

Penetration testing is widely used to improve the web application firewall (WAF). It (WAF) can attempt to breach mobile apps such as APIs, frontend servers, or backend servers.

It’s easier to find vulnerabilities yourself before real hackers do, like testing inputs prone to code injection attacks.

Fine-tuning your WAF security policies and patching bugs found before releasing your mobile app is a must. It’s one of Mobile App Security’s most important levels. It’s different from standard software testing, but both are integral to improving mobile app security.

9. Use of tokens to handle sessions and high-level authentication

A token is a tiny hardware device that allows users to access a network service. Mobile app developers use tokens to help handle user sessions. As tokens can be accepted, it can be revoked.

Mobile app developers must also use better protection to use complex passwords. Plan your mobile apps to allow only complicated alphanumeric passwords to be renewed every six months.

Add two-factor authentication, add encryption to your mobile app. Users must submit the OTP (one-time password) sent via text or email before logging in. Other authentication methods include biometrics such as fingerprint and retina scanning (depending on the mobile device in use).

10. Access Policies and Continuous Testing

Continuous testing is a new normal. The only way to show that the code and configurations function is to test them. This is why we need continuous testing.

In organizations making this move, performance engineers and test automation specialists change from a backlog of test-building work to promoting testing democratization. Everyone builds their code and everybody constantly checks their code.

While continuous testing is becoming more of a common procedure, it certainly poses specific challenges for implementation. You need to indicate access policies and specifications for continuous testing in order to prevent delays.

You may also need to refine research processes with visual models that provide optimum coverage. Conduct performance testings on the development stage and production stage as well, so you can get the right test data.

Conclusion: Prioritize Mobile App Security

Safety should concern any mobile app maker. Your app is not the primary responsibility of your customer. Yes, they must be responsible for antivirus protection, using VPN, and other security But as the mobile app maker, it is your responsibility to make sure the users’ level of security is top-notch. In addition, huge consequences await those who did not use non-GDPR-compliant.

Implementing mobile app protection measures allows you to secure not only your app, but the data stored in it. A holistic approach to mobile app security is not difficult to implement, but as a responsible mobile app creator or developer, dedication is required.


Mayleen Meñez used to work in media before finding her true passion in NGO work, traveling the Philippines and Asia doing so. She homeschools 3 kids and loves reinventing Filipino dishes. She is a resident SEO writer for Softvire Australia and Softvire New Zealand.

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