In the age of technology, it is almost impossible to keep your privacy contained. With every year passing, more people start using mobile or web apps for a variety of purposes. These apps usually request access to personal information, payment information, other social media accounts, and even contact lists. While some apps may be reliable and safe, others may share your information with other third-party platforms or software.
Even if the apps are safe and will not use your information for malicious reasons, if your device isn’t protected enough, web attackers can steal your information. This is why millions of businesses in numerous industries invest large sums of money to enforce protective measures against cybersecurity threats and receive alerts in case of security breaches. Besides, large businesses are often very picky regarding the networking solutions and software that they use.
Everyone, including developers, users, and hackers are working to figure out ways to serve their needs. The problem is that although it may be a violation of privacy, developers need our personal information to create a better user experience. For instance, social media platforms have access to contact lists, search engines, and personal information such as marital status, age, gender, occupation, and address to optimize results. Developers work on connecting you to products, services, or people that you have been searching for. Not only does this make the lives of average users much easier, but it also helps many businesses grow by connecting them to relevant and potential customers.
For example, if you’ve been searching for “the best volumizing shampoos” in your search engine, you might find an ad on social media for a local brand that sells volumizing shampoo. This makes your hunt for a product as a customer easier and is beneficial for the business too. Despite the advantages, having your privacy violated can feel extremely uncomfortable, and granting access to this information to trusted mobile or web apps doesn’t mean that you are not susceptible to threats. Here’s what you should know about mobile or app security and how to achieve it.
Security Mobile Apps
Each mobile operating system integrates a series of protective measures to ensure that the apps offered on their application stores are reliable and safe. Mobile operating systems opt for high security to maintain and build trust between them and their clients. They want to ensure that their customers can safely enjoy the features that they have to offer. However, mobile operating systems cannot possibly monitor all apps launched on their store. Instead, they lay out basic or fundamental security requirements. If you are an iOS or an Android user, look for the following security measures when installing your apps.
Security iOS Apps
iOS is supervised by Apple and is believed to be the most secure mobile operating system. They implement numerous protective measures to ensure that users don’t need to worry about viruses, malware, and hackers. While some of these measures are necessary to the development stage of mobile apps, iOS still monitors the authenticity of apps. If you’re an iOS user, you should know which security methods that are used by developers are most effective to keep them in mind. When installing an app, make sure that it integrates a few of the following security measures, depending on its purpose.
HTTPS Protocol is used to make sure that the communication between the app and the server is secure. Public and private keys encryption and special certificates are used to guarantee data security and privacy. This is to ensure the safe transmission of sensitive information and databases between the app and the server, as this data is transmitted through an unreadable code that only special encryption keys can decode, which requires a corresponding certificate on the server. HTTPS is a more modern version of HTTP that works to stop personal data regarding a user’s behavior and identity from being revealed.
A MITM, or a man-in-the-middle attack, is a term that refers to the act of hackers secretly interfering with or modifying the communication that occurs between the app and the server. Phishing, on the other hand, is the act of tricking people into providing personal information, like login credentials.
A token is used to authorize the requests that users perform on a mobile app, from the app to the server. Tokens are unique keys that user identifiers return during authorization. To ensure further reliability and security, tokens often have a specific lifetime of validity. When this period is over, users are asked to re-authenticate on the application. Access tokens are most commonly used in digital banking so that a user’s financial or payment information are not revealed and so that they are also protected against potential fraudulent financial operations. Information is safely transmitted when tokens are used to safely connect third-party APIs with the app.
KeyChain, internal encrypted storage is provided by Apple for its users to ensure the secure storage of authorization data like password, login, and token. However, the problem with this feature is that even after the app has been removed or deleted, the data remains stored. This can be beneficial if you decide to relaunch or reinstall the app because the user will be able to use the reauthorization data again. The only way to completely delete this data is by resetting the phone. KeyChain storage is mainly protective against the leakage of a user’s authorization credentials, which usually contain personal information.
Sometimes, the creation of custom encryption methods that are based on existing algorithms, like RSA and MD5, can be extremely beneficial. Custom encryptions help encrypt messages between parties by an enhanced data security level. Custom encryptions are compiled and created for specific purposes. They are unique and one of a kind, making them impossible to be hacked.
Access Before Use
To be launched on Apple’s application store, all apps must meet Apple’s security fundamentals. One of these fundamentals or requirements is requesting to access certain data right before using it. For instance, an app has to request microphone access when the user tries to record a video or use a voice feature and not when the user first launches the app. This way, the user is in control of the information that they protect. This also applies to the camera, photos, videos, calendars, contact lists, location, music library, and other information. An app will not have access to this information unless the user authorizes access to it.
The file system On iOS devices is closed from outside access by default. Only one folder of these files can be accessed through a file called documents. This is to implement further protection for the files that are stored on your iOS device. This greatly reduces the risk or even prevents possible data leaks.
SSL pinning is a method that is used to protect users against numerous insecure wireless networks. It prevents servers, except for the allocated one, from inspecting traffic. This happens when a server delivers a certificate that the client checks during the SSL ping. SSL pinnings are mainly protective against MITM attacks attempting to interrupt the connection between the app and the server. SSL pinning works by making sure that the app communicates with the server itself.
Security Android Apps
Although Android has a large user base, Android-based apps are the most susceptible to hacker attacks and threats. This is why it is vital for app developers to implement innovative and effective security approaches in the app development stages. If you are an Android user, search for the following security features to ensure protection.
Source Code Obfuscation
To achieve source code obfuscation, app developers need to rename parameters with meaningless labels in a code, encrypt certain parts or all parts of the code, and add unused parts of a code. This approach makes it very hard for hackers to debug and examine the code because the code, along with its functionality, would be impossible to understand. This approach can protect sensitive information and intellectual property and serves as a cover-up to prevent the discovery of vulnerabilities and bypassing licensing.
Developers can encrypt data tables when sensitive pieces of information are at risk. This can be achieved by using data encryption services to protect data. Data encryption is mostly used for data leak prevention, as well as securely storing extremely important data.
The use of encrypted files is very advantageous because they are hard to be recognized by attackers. This method can be used to safely store sensitive and confidential information. It is ultimately beneficial for securing data stored in a device’s internal storage. Encrypted files aren’t likely to be prone to accidental security breaches.
Protecting Your Computer System
Your computer system can be subject to countless threats by both web attackers and hackers that gained access to your information through apps. Either way, cyber-attacks are very harmful to your device and can put your personal well-being at risk. Since it is an awfully frightening experience, you should always enforce protective measures on your device. The following are approaches that you can use for protection.
Penetration Testing and Bug Bounty
Penetration testing and bug bounty are very effective methods that can help you discover vulnerabilities in your device to fix them. Many people want to know more about penetration testing vs bug bounty so that they can determine the better candidate. Penetration testing is basically a simulated cyber attack on your device or computer system to determine whether your computer is at actual risk. It is mainly used to amplify web application firewall. Meanwhile, bug bounty programs use independent security research to report bugs to users and then receive compensation for their service afterward. This method is mainly used by organizations and businesses.
Anti-virus software is specifically designed to protect your device from potential risks and malware, as it will scan your device to detect any threats, prevent attackers, and delete viruses from your computer. Most of the software runs automatically to immediately eliminate risks and mitigate harm. They constantly work to prevent your computer system from spyware, worms, trojan horses, and other malware and offer additional features like blocking suspicious websites and adding customizable firewalls.
Web Apps Security
Web users should be aware that software vulnerabilities, viruses, and threats are always present. Unfortunately, if you don’t watch out for these risks, you can put your personal information in danger, and your device will also be highly susceptible to damage. To eliminate or reduce the risks imposed by such threats, it is important to act wisely and implement protective and defensive measures. The following are approaches that you can take to safely browse the web.
Block Pop-ups and Ads
You can easily switch off or block pop-ups in your web browser. Pop-ups are not just extremely annoying, but some of them also contain inappropriate content or dangerous links. You can download a web browser that filters or blocks pop-ups automatically, or you can easily switch them off from the settings. If you want to receive pop-ups from a trusted site, you can give permission to enable pop-ups. Ad blockers can also be used to prevent receiving annoying and possibly malicious ads. However, the only disadvantage is that content creators and publishers usually make profits from these advertisements. So while you protect yourself from possible harm, the revenues that keep the site going will be affected.
Websites Cache and Cookies
Websites often track browsing data, which is a violation of one’s privacy. If you want to limit such action, you can easily clear your browser’s cache and delete cookies regularly. This way ads won’t keep popping up. Always make sure that the latest version of the web page that you are browsing is loaded. While this can be easily done manually, some software is designed to automate this process.
The evolving technology makes it impossible to avoid risking the violation of our privacy. Many apps and social media platforms have access to almost every aspect of our lives. Besides, even if they won’t use the information maliciously, malware that tracks you from the web can easily access this information, so make sure to apply these tips to minimize if not eliminate the risk of your device being hacked.