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11 Jan 2023 • 5 min read

Good Practices To Boost The Security of Your Mobile App

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The prevalence of mobile applications has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years to the point where the industry is generating billions of dollars in revenue. According to the Business of Apps data report for 2022, the app industry reached $133 billion in revenue and 143 billion downloads in 2021 (<https://www.businessofapps.com/data/report-app-data/>). This should come as no surprise as mobile phones have become powerful enough to rival personal computers in many areas.

Many people can and do manage their work and life through mobile apps. However, because there are so many mobile applications available, it is essential to safeguard the security and privacy of users. Because it is such a lucrative industry, there's no shortage of criminals seeking to take advantage of any flaws or security loopholes that they can find in popular mobile apps. To prevent the breach of trust and loss of users that can result from cybercriminals, be sure to use the following good practices to boost the security of your mobile app.

Make Use of A Secure Code Base

A secure code base is the foundation of any app; without it, any additional security measures will be much less effective. It is common for developers to keep their code obfuscated and minified for security reasons. Many developers also make use of tampering checks to warn users if the app has been modified in any way. Users are urged to contact the developer if this type of message is then displayed.

Use Libraries With Caution

Third-party libraries can save a lot of time and effort but should be used with caution. For example, a Google engineer noticed an issue with the SSH client while using the GNU C Library (glibc) only to discover that it was a vulnerability in glibc (https://security.googleblog.com/2016/02/cve-2015-7547-glibc-getaddrinfo-stack.html). Therefore, make sure that all libraries, SDKs, and other dependencies used by your app are fully updated before deployment.

Use An SSL Certificate

Because most people use their mobile phones in public, it is important to safeguard against security risks that are associated with untrusted communication. For example, it's not uncommon for criminals to set up fake Wi-Fi access points in an attempt to perform man-in-the-middle attacks on users. Using an SSL Certificate can help safeguard users against these types of attacks and keep their data secure, which will boost their trust. 

Eliminate All Loopholes

Before releasing a mobile application, thorough testing is essential to find and eliminate all loopholes. Criminals will try and find any flaws, common endpoints, or files and directories that are unprotected in an attempt to gain unauthorized access. Make sure that all security settings are correctly configured too to prevent any vulnerabilities. Failure to do so could lead to sensitive user data being exposed or servers being in danger of compromise.  

Stay Up To Date On Open-Source Vulnerabilities

There are a lot of advantages to using open-source tools, but doing so is not without risk either. Make sure to monitor your open-source software for any vulnerabilities and patch these as soon as they are detected.

Keep Access To A Minimum

Applications that request access to everything on a user's phone are not only annoying but also not very safe. Try to keep the access that your app requires to the bare minimum and only let it make access requests if necessary. Unnecessary permissions could make it easier for criminals to find loopholes and require additional security measures to monitor from your side. The same goes for any data users are required to enter into the app. Do not ask for or store any data that is not needed for the app to function. 

Encrypt The Data

Encrypt any data that is transmitted to and from a user's phone. Doing so ensures that even if criminals are able to intercept or get their hands on the data, they will not easily be able to use it for nefarious purposes. 

Perform Frequent Testing

Thorough testing is vital before releasing your mobile app, but it continues after release too. It is virtually impossible for any app to be completely secure, so be sure to continue testing to uncover any flaws or vulnerabilities. Also, pay attention to user feedback and release timely updates to address any issues discovered. 

Do Risk Assessments

Risk assessments can enhance the security of your app and discover any vulnerabilities you might have overlooked. It can be done by listing all your assets that need protection, identifying possible threats, looking into potential attack vectors, and then ensuring that all measures are in place to detect and prevent attacks. If the budget allows for it, using experienced pentesters to measure the security of your app can also be invaluable. 

What Are The Biggest Mobile Security Issues?

Data leakage is one of the most significant security issues in the mobile application space. This is when information is transferred from a user's device to an unauthorized receiver. Cybercriminals can then use this data for other malicious activities. In research performed by Cybernews, it was found that 14 top Android apps with 142.5 million installs were leaving their data exposed to unauthorized parties due to misconfigured installs. They also found that nine out of 14 popular Android alls could be leaking the data of more than 30.5 million users (https://cybernews.com/security/research-popular-android-apps-with-142-5-million-collective-downloads-are-leaking-user-data/). 

Conclusion

The mobile application industry is here to stay, and more businesses are using apps to bridge the gap with their clients. When used correctly, mobile applications can bring in a lot of revenue. Still, customer faith lost due to security issues can be hard to recover and detrimental to business. Incorporating good security practices as an integral part of development can minimize risks and prevent your apps from becoming an easy target for cybercriminals.

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