Application security is neither a feature nor a benefit – it is a bare necessity. Since the count of mobile devices in the world is greater than that of humans, there are seldom a few who don’t have access to it. It is the mobile apps in the US alone that account for 86% of the internet usage. Therefore, with an ample amount of data available on these applications, security shouldn’t be just the choice but a priority. The reason is one breach could cost your company not just millions of dollars but a lifetime of trust.
The mobile apps have a fixed set of junctions from where it can be installed—Google Play Store, Apple App Store, and Windows Store. Users from organizations and mobile enterprises have embraced mobile applications for improving employee productivity while aligning themselves with the younger and better connected workforce.
Why is app security important?
The large industry groups such as Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) are dedicated to the security of the applications; they exist to create or exploit app vulnerabilities. There are myriad reasons why application security is vital. Any sort of compromise can lead to exposure of personal information, login credentials, APIs (application programming interfaces), private encryption keys, and more leading to billions of dollars in losses, government penalties, and other consequences.
Not only is organizational information vulnerable, but individual users of application can also be hit. Criminals could know the name, age, home address, account numbers, and even the current location.
Ways to ensure mobile application security
As an application developer, the primary thing you should do is search for the answer to – How do I secure my application against any malicious intent?
The answer is securing them by providing tips to address the security challenges during the creation and deployment of a mobile app. These tips are compiled by mobile app developers, hackers, testers, and research teams of development, as it will help in securing mobile apps for improved user experience.
1. Source code encryption
Mobile malware taps on bugs and vulnerabilities within the design and source code of the mobile application. It tries to reverse engineer the code and tamper with it, and it just needs a public copy of your app for it. So, it is required that you keep the security of code in mind and make it tough enough to breakthrough. Make sure to keep the code agile so that it can be updated on the user’s end post breach.
2. Understand platform-specific limitations
If you are developing for multiple operating systems, it is better to understand security features as well as the limitations of the platform. Add to it, consider various case scenarios such as encryption support, password support, and geo-location support for the operating system. This helps in appropriately controlling and distributing the app on your chosen platforms.
3. Only use authorized APIs
The APIs that aren’t authorized are coded loosely and can allow hackers to attack. For example, caching authorization information locally helps programmers to reuse information while they make API calls easily. Add to it, they make it easier for coders by utilizing APIs. As per the experts, APIs are authorized centrally for maximum security.
4. Secure the data-in-transit and backend
It is required that the information which is sent from the client to the backend servers gets protected to ensure zero privacy leaks and no amount of data theft. There should be strict employment of SSL or VPN for the protection of data. Not only the data in transit but also the backend servers should be protected against malicious attacks.
5. Make use of latest cryptography techniques
Hard coding of keys makes it easy for attackers to steal. Store keys in secure containers and do not ever store them locally on the device. Some of the popularly accepted cryptographic protocols like MD5 and SHA1 were proven as insufficient by several modern security standards. Instead, stick to the most latest and trusted APIs such as 256-bit AES with SHA – 256 for hashing.
6. Test again and again
Securing an application is a process that never ends. New threats are discovered, and new solutions are needed every now and then. Make repeated investments in penetration testing, threat modeling, and emulators to make continuous testing for app vulnerabilities. Fix them with each update and give solutions patches whenever and wherever it is required.
Where are we headed?
In the next five years, we will see systems that are smarter, sophisticated, able to handle a large population and a large amount of data. There will be systems that can update themselves rapidly. Take decisions in real-time and connect to shared-intelligence that will keep information safe. These smarter things won’t come automatically to the business; they will need to start investing in time and resources to ensure the security world is doing enough to come up with innovation.
Over the years, we have made it a habit to close the doors at night, put on seatbelts while driving, and wear a helmet while driving a vehicle. Thus, awareness only seems to be growing over the years. It goes without saying that five years from now, we will see ourselves becoming digitally secure. To know more about Application Security, you can download our latest whitepapers on Security.