How to Ensure Mobile App Security: Key Risks & Top Practises

Building an app today doesn’t end with finding the right technologies and implementing features in a user-friendly user interface.

Today, creating an app means investing time in mobile application security. A single successful hacker attack can cost your business money, reputation, and, most importantly, hard-earned customer trust.

In this article, we are going to review the aspects of app security. So, let’s hit the road!

Potential Threats of Mobile Apps for Individuals & Organizations

Mobile applications are an easy way for hackers to access the personal information of millions of users. Applications connected with businesses and brands are even more attractive for criminals since they can provide access to employees’ information and compromise the security of corporations.

Weak mobile app security can put at risk the security of individuals who use these apps. For example, crypto trading apps can provide access to personal information and financial details. If you want to learn more about crypto trading, click here.

Usually, mobile app security issues can lead to the following problems for individual and organizations:

  • Stealing of login credentials
  • Credit card stealing
  • Access to business networks
  • Identity theft

When security for mobile apps is compromised, it can also cause other problems such as negative user experience, impact to the brand’s reputation, and multi-million financial losses.

Are all the apps – security risk? 

Quite the opposite. But only if they follow the latest and best mobile app security standards.

What is Mobile App Security and Its Importance?

Mobile application security is the means and measures used to protect mobile applications from hacker attacks, digital fraud, and different criminal manipulation types. You can secure mobile apps by using technical means and implementing processes and procedures inside a company to project mobile devices and the company’s data.

If you want to develop an app, you need a reliable vendor specializing in custom software development. Such top companies like MLSDev ensure proper mobile app security testing and include Q&A services all along app creation and release stages.

If you are still asking why mobile application security is important and why you need to pay more attention to it, take a look at some statistics:

Mobile Application Security: 8 Factors of Negative Influence 

With over 5.19 billion mobile phone users, the importance of mobile app security has never been so important. Mobile apps have successfully penetrated all industries and spheres of life. Hackers continue to explore new ways of accessing valuable information.

Let’s review key mobile app security risks and how to migrate them.

  1. Unsecured Wi-Fi

Many people use unsecured Wi-Fi without even realizing the threat like unverified servers and unsecured Wi-Fi networks pose to their solutions. When users connect their devices to such unsecure points, they don’t even realize the threat they are exposing their personal information.

Unsecure Wi-Fi can be used to steal the business information of unsuspecting business workers.

  1. Apps with Malicious Code

App Store and Google Play have thorough mobile app security testing standards that all applications need to meet. However, these are not the only places where users can download applications. There are also app marketplaces and other portals that distribute mobile applications without passing mobile application security certification. After such apps are installed, hackers get access to users’ data. The best way to prevent such apps from entering your phones is by downloading applications from official app stores only.

  1. OS Vulnerabilities

These are harder to explore, but they still exist. Vulnerabilities in operating systems can pose a threat to mobile app security. Even if smartphone manufacturers upgrade the operating system to meet new mobile security apps threats, some users might decide not to update their smartphones. Thus, it’s important to update software as soon as providers release updates.

  1. Data Leaks

Today, the vast majority of applications use cloud technologies for data storage. After users enter their personal information, it gets to the remote servers. If the company behind the application doesn’t take the necessary preclusions, hackers can easily access servers and confidential data. Caching, insecure storage, and browser cookies can all become a target for cybercriminals.

  1. Cryptography Issues

Mobile cryptography is a crucial part of mobile application security since it helps to ensure data integrity. Sometimes, developers unintentionally might use encryption protocols with vulnerabilities or not use them at all. Such vulnerabilities can be exposed to steal the data that goes through an app.

  1. Trust in App Store Security

Even though app stores have security protocols, users often assume that app stores have performed all the needed testing and due diligence. In reality, app stores cannot always thoroughly check all the submitted apps, allowing apps vulnerabilities to get to users.

  1. Insafe Data Storage

Some applications store information on the client-side. Client storage can be hacked in, or the wrong person can get access to their devices. All of this can result in data exploration, manipulation, and usage.

  1. Easy Authorization & Authentication

Allowing users to use four-digit passwords puts the security of an app at high risk since such passwords are very easy to hack. Since applications can operate offline, they don’t provide the same security level for online connections compared to web solutions. Thus, it creates loopholes and vulnerability threats that cybercriminals can explore.

Mobile Application Security Best Practices

How can you secure your mobile app?

There are a number of ways that can help you ensure that your application is safe to use. Let’s review the main security approaches in mobile apps.

Include Strong Authentication

Multi-factor authentication is the best way to ensure protection against password guessing and unauthorized access to users’ data. Multi-factor authentication can combine different types, including login with passwords, fingerprints, social media, etc.

Ensure Mobile Communication Encryption

All the communication between servers and mobile applications should be encrypted. 4096-bit SSL keys and session-based key exchanges can be used to prevent data leaks thanks to decrypted communication. The data stored on devices locally should also be encrypted.

Secure from App Theft

Storing data locally poses a serious risk as mobile devices can land in the hands of the wrong people. When devices are lost or stolen, apps should provide the ability to wipe sensitive data remotely and quickly restore it.

Scan Mobile Apps for Malware

Third-party APIs and services can include malware and malicious code that will later undermine your application’s security. After you have your app built, you need to ensure its thorough testing to identify such security threats.

Prevent Data Leaks

When building an app, data loss prevention should be considered to prevent situations when users unintentionally share sensitive information. You can combine security policies with security tools that prevent such situations.

Optimize Data Caching

The performance of mobile applications highly depends on data caching. Cached data is an attractive goal for hackers since it’s relatively easy to steal. This danger can be mitigated by setting up password protection and automatic cached data wiping under certain conditions.

Download from Trusted Sources

Users should be provided with a list of app stores, marketplaces, and other resources to download an app. Warning users about downloading an app from an unverified place is not advised and can undermine their security.

Avoid Saving Passwords

Local storage of passwords is very dangerous since it places valuable data at risk of being stolen. Social login can become a great solution that won’t require users to remember a lot of passwords and store them somewhere.

Force User Session End

When users close your application, the user session should end. By leaving it active after they leave the app, you put them at risk of their device landing in the wrong hands. You can also implement such solutions as automatic logout after some time being inactive; re-login after some inactive time will ensure some extra security.

Go Beyond Anti-Malware

Scanning software with an anti-malware solution is not enough since such solutions often identify only the most popular types of vulnerabilities. While they are good as precaution tools, they cannot ensure a hundred percent security. Implementing encryption routines, behavioral analysis tools, and traffic monitoring solutions will help you do the job.

Invest in Mobile App Security Services

There are a number of mobile application security tools that can be used to prevent vulnerabilities from reaching end users. The list of such solutions includes the following names:

  • Lookout for Android
  • Avast Free Mobile Security
  • AVG Antivirus Free
  • Norton Mobile Security

All of these tools can be used to check apps before installation on the devices of end-users.

Mobile Application Security: Bottom Line

Making an app secure is not an easy task. Still, it’s an important step that should be considered during application development. Even the smallest vulnerability can later cause multi-million financial losses, data stealing, and reputation damage.

Mobile app security liens not only on software providers. End users should also undertake all the necessary precautions, such as using only strong and unique passwords, installing apps only from reliable sources. 

PKI-Security Engineer & security blogger at gbhackers.com. She is passionate about covering cybersecurity and Technology.

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