Tips that help in developing highly secure apps that match users’ expectations
Smartphone and tablet users all over the world downloaded over 70 billion apps in total. The process of enterprise app development starts with an innovative idea and a stroke of inspiration. After that follows a lot of planning, designing and coding. Throughout this process, what generally gets ignored is the security factor.
Last year, smartphone and tablet users all over the world downloaded over 70 billion apps in total. This clearly states how effective mobile apps can be for an enterprise. The process of enterprise app development starts with an innovative idea and a stroke of inspiration. After that follows a lot of planning, designing and coding. Throughout this process, what generally gets ignored is the security factor.
It has been observed that more than half of the businesses getting a mobile app developed do not have a separate budget for enterprise mobile security solutions. This is because they are unaware of the thousands of apps are being targeted daily by hackers, and a lot of personal user data is constantly being stolen.
After the recent Cambridge Analytica incident where the data of over 87 million Facebook user accounts was leaked and used for swaying public opinion, the world has awakened with a harsh jolt and has started taking mobile app security a lot more seriously.
So, with a majority of smartphone users on high alert about data security, any enterprise cannot afford to let its app get launched without ensuring the optimum data security levels of the app.
Mobile development experts say that every successful application that they analyse has at least 2 security risks. To avoid this from happening to your own app, one needs to understand the intent of hackers for hacking into your application.
Hackers can do the following through an app with compromised security:
- Inject malware into the device through the app and steal private data and passwords.
- Gain access to debit/credit card details that the user used to carry out purchases on the app.
- Steal user data for identity theft or fraud purposes.
- Login to users’ personal email accounts for committing frauds anonymously.
- Access intellectual private business assets or intellectual property and use it for personal gain.
All these intentions of hackers pose major threats to app users and if an enterprise app does not provide security against these threats, the app is bound to lose users.
So, here, I have listed down simple tips and tricks which, when followed, will help you get a secure mobile application development which will make the users feel secure while installing and using the app.
Strengthen the server side controls:
Every time the user communicates with the server through the app, the communication takes place outside the mobile phone. Thus, as the server becomes a weak link that is a primary target for hackers to exploit for data. The developers need to have an in-depth knowledge of the languages and frameworks being used for app development to be able to take into account all the traditional server-side security considerations completely.
Do not rely completely on the platform for data protection:
App development platforms offer various features to make app security easier. But, these features are available to everyone, including hackers. This means that if you use the default features, it becomes easier for the hackers to get past the security barriers as they already know what they are dealing with. That is why it is recommended that a developer understands those features and modifies it to create a unique security barrier.
This may be a tip that has been recommended very frequently for app security as it is highly significant. Users may be accessing the app services through unsecured public WiFi networks. This leaves their data vulnerable to hackers. So, if there is end-to-end encryption between the device and the server, the data transmission becomes secure and even while being transmitted over unsafe networks.
Prevent unintended data leakage:
Whenever an application is installed on a mobile, it stores some data in the device memory. This data can be anything from passwords, images to anything that an app requires to function smoothly. So, when this data is stored on the phone, it has to be stored in a secure location from where no other app would be able to access it. If this is not done, it may result in some unauthorised apps gaining access to that data, thereby causing a breach of user privacy or unauthorized use of user data.
Secure data storage on the server:
The user communicates with the server through the app and accesses data that is stored on the server. For a completely secure app, not only the communication chain but also the database where the data is stored has to be completely secured. All the other app security measures would be completely in vain if the app database itself is prone to hacking.
Improvise user authentication:
There is always a chance that the user may lose his or her phone or leave it unlocked. This may lead to unauthorised access to the apps installed on the phone. To prevent any data theft during the occurrence of such an event, the app itself needs to have user authentication features to ensure that no stranger can gain access to the application.
Appoint a security lead:
While getting a mobile application developed, ensure the development team has a security lead who is in charge of overseeing the app security measures at every stage of your app development. By doing this, one can be assured of having taken into account every mobile app security threat and thereby launch a completely secure app on the market.
All the resources and money put into enterprise mobile application development would be futile if the users are not assured that their personal data would remain safe. There are several steps that need to be taken to ensure app security, all of which have been mentioned above. Also, if the users are required to enter their bank or card detail within the app, the need for security increases. No user would make any transactions through the app unless he or she is assured of the secure payment gateway. In short, the app may die a slow and lonely death if the users do not find it secure enough.