According to a recent security report, over 46% of companies have had at least one employee download a mobile application with some security issues.
App security isn’t a feature or a benefit, it is a bare necessity. One breach could cost your company substantial financial damage and can ruin its reputation. That is why security should be a priority from the moment developers start writing the first line of code.
With this in mind, we’ve decided to have a look at the most common mobile app security threats, and show you the best practices when it comes to developing your own mobile application.
Misusing the development platform
Both iOS and Android come with developer features and tools that provide standard security controls. One of the biggest vulnerabilities and threats in mobile applications comes from these tools being misused or being completely ignored.
If a developer creates an app without fully understanding the platform, their app is like to have some security issues. By knowing the development suite, tools, and security controls, developers can be set up to follow mobile app security guidelines.
Both iOS and Android development platforms offer ways for developers to implement permission checks properly, not doing so can leave the app and all of the devices it’s downloaded on vulnerable to attacks, causing major security issues.
iOS devices use a keychain to store sensitive information, which can be easily exploited if not implemented properly.
The same happens on Android, if some components of the application are not compatible with the device/Android version they can lead to security issues. That’s why developers should use the Compatibility Test Suite to ensure compatibility among all of the components.
Data storage in Offline Apps
There are quite a few types of mobile apps: native apps, web applications, hybrids (that are a little bit of both), and newer ones that are called progressive web apps.
Most mobile apps are designed to work offline as well – especially progressive ones and native apps. There are a lot of mobile apps that allow this as it lets people continue their work offline and then reconnect at a later time to save or upload their work.
The problem for a developer is that they need to provide everything for the app to work, without a constant online connection. Generally, on a client-server architecture, the user makes a few requests in the app, and then those go back to the main server, which then processes the data and turns back the result. Apps that work offline have to do all of this processing within the app – this can lead to several vulnerabilities because the possible attackers have the full codebase at their disposal, rather than the most security-critical code (that covers things like authentication tokens and authorization) being on the server-side.
There are various solutions that work as well for offline and online apps. Common issues are to do with data storage on the app. For example, if an app user doesn’t have a password on their phone and they lose their phone, an attacker can easily get into the app database. There could be some built-in authentication, but if the data is not stored correctly, there can be other ways around it. This is why it is essential to store login credentials and other sensitive information in an encrypted database.
Insecure communication between the app and the server
One of the most basic best practices covers encrypting communications between the app and the server. This creates a secure channel that ensures that no sensitive data is tampered with or intercepted in transit.
One major vulnerability can come from a developer overlooking this aspect of data encryption, considering it unimportant, and ignoring the dangers that can come without it.
Ideally, all information sent between the app and the server should be encrypted using proper algorithms and strong ciphers to ensure that the encryption cannot be broken.
One solution for this would be to implement industry-standard controls. One example would be not relying on symmetric cryptography with hardcoded keys as the only method of encryption.
These industry standards are always changing, and staying up to date with them is no small feat! This is one of the main reasons you should consider working with a specialized software company like JustApplications.
We design and build secure apps around your needs!
We at Justapplications give our best to follow all of the mobile app security best practices, including observing industry-standard security guidelines for writing secure code. Our mobile app development team has the tendency to overachieve and write quality code that is in line with the latest industry standards, eliminating most vulnerabilities that would make it easy for attackers to access parts of the app they shouldn’t be able to.
If you need a mobile app that is up to date when it comes to security standards and is specifically designed for your business, visit our App development page, or just simply contact us to talk through your needs.