Thanks to the advancement in mobile app technology, mobile devices can allow us to do almost everything with the touch of a finger. From internet banking, tracking our fitness levels, shopping and even working from remote locations- life seems almost impossible without a mobile phone today. According to a report by Flurry, mobile phone users spend nearly 86% of their time using apps, which equals almost two hours every day.
This need for mobile productivity has shown an immense rise in the creation of a spam free app. Mobile applications are software that connect APIs and servers all around the world to deliver various forms of data, services, and convenience to its users.
But the rising popularity of mobile apps has also made it a big target for all sorts of malicious activities by hackers. According to research by Arxan Technology’s 2016 State of App Security, more than 90% of apps show at least 2/10 risks mentioned in OWASP’s major security risks. The same report highlighted the fact that more than 50% of organizations don’t allocate enough funds for mobile app security.
An insecure mobile app is a massive risk as most of them contain private and confidential data like photos, social security, and credit card details. So, how do we secure mobile apps from hackers in this day and age? Here are some simple yet effective ways in which developers can enhance the security of their apps:
1- Secure the code
Hackers target the vulnerabilities and bugs in the coding of mobile apps. According to research by Infosecurity, malicious code is infecting around 11.6 mobile devices at any given time. Hackers often lure unsuspecting users into downloading malicious apps, by copying the code and icons of popular apps.
This is why developers should work vigilantly in detecting security vulnerabilities. Apps should be hardened to minimize chances of hacking. Apps should repeatedly be tested, and bugs should be fixed immediately to keeps hackers at bay. Make sure that you opt for agile coding methods so that they can be updated continuously.
2- Encrypt data
Whenever a mobile app is accessed, the enterprise’s data and other information are stored on the device. Sensitive information such as the user’s location, personal details, and other data is stored within it. If the device is misplaced or misused, there is a great chance of data loss and theft. This is why it is essential to use mobile data encryption methods to secure the data stored in the app. Encryption secures sensitive information against all forms of criminal access.
Encryption is a process in which plaintext is scrambled into a vague chain of alphabets and numbers so that they have no meaning for anyone else apart from those who have the control. Even if the data or device is stolen, hackers will not be able to misuse the information as it won’t make sense to them.
3- App authentication
Ideally, all apps that contain sensitive user information should ask for authentication upon log in request. Any unauthenticated requests should be reported immediately.
It is a great way to spot genuine users and their patterns of use so that you know that the application is not under attack. Try introducing a double layer authentication process for all your users. Give them an enhanced layer of security by sending them an OTP (one-time password) every time they log in. 2-step authentication process reduces chances of the app being hacked to a great extent.
4- Inform the user
Many times, an application’s security is breached from an external device at a remote location. This can also occur if a user changes their device or borrows another phone/laptop from their friends or family.
If you want to impress your users with top-notch security measures in your app, then always inform them if their login details have changed. Google, Dropbox, and Facebook do an excellent job of notifying the user immediately in this scenario.
5- Secure transactions
Many people use mobile applications to shop online. Online transactions should be made completely secure by observing certain risk factors such as user location, network security, device security and IP velocity. This approach hardens the app security and advanced protection against hackers.
6- Handle security threats immediately
Even if your app faces a security breach, it is important to be prepared to minimize damage. Once you have dealt with the hacking incident, understand how the intrusion occurred in the first place. Take it as a learning opportunity to prevent another incident.
IBM Security QRadar Incident Forensics is a great security system that retraces security breaches step-by-step. It is done within a few hours and helps organizations to develop a strong response to future attacks.
7- Test repeatedly
Securing your mobile app is a continuous process. Hackers are developing new ways to penetrate your firewalls. This is why you should always be on your toes, as a developer. Test your apps repeatedly to find vulnerabilities before they are spotted by hackers. Make sure to fix any loopholes immediately with each update.
2017 saw iconic data breaches in reputable organizations like WannaCry and NotPetya. These occurrences have made app owners, and developers realize the importance of cybersecurity.
According to research by IDC, almost 69% of most smartphones used for business purposes are owned by employees rather than the organization. The BYOD trend has made it much easier for hackers to sneak in.
This is why it has become critical to maintain mobile app security. Follow a simple framework that verifies the device and internet connection to minimize the security risk. An efficient mobile security framework will not only increase productivity but will also increase user satisfaction.
Users are equally concerned about security as much as aesthetic appeal. Security can be a big contributor towards the success of a well-designed app. These guidelines will help you keep your app security up to date and as tight as an oyster.
Are you concerned about the security of your mobile app yet? If yes, share some of your tried and tested app hardening techniques with us in the comments below: