During the times of COVID-19, maintaining app security while using it is similar to withdrawing your hands unhurt from a crocodiles’ mouth.

Pandemic and growing mobile usage are directly proportional to each other. Designing and updating apps based on the current situational requirement has become essential for every business’s survival. There are an ‘n’ number of users dependent on mobile apps for banking, shopping, or other day-to-day transactions. Companies need to design applications to give user-friendly experience to keep their potential customers intact. Thus, developers need to work in a more exuberant way to deliver an engaging and error-free experience.

Gone are the days when “features first, security later” formula worked for developers while building any new app for business models hinged on mobile. Implementing application security for mobiles is a steep path. It is time-consuming as well as an expensive task. Building an excellent iOS and Android security apps require intelligent engineers who are in high demand and scarce in number.

Post COVID-19, the usage of apps has increased to a great extent. Cybercriminals and hackers are finding this as the best time to start exploiting known mobile app security flaws. Nobody is unaware of the fact that many mobile apps lack the necessary encryption. Similar to this, many of the applications are illegally made available on non-official app stores.

Fighting the new normal in terms of mobile app security

According to the development team, the best way to implement security within the organization is with the appropriate skill set.

The other way that development teams can take up is security software development kits (SDKs) that can be imbibed in the apps to provide security. Such a method will help in reducing the scope of coding but will demand developers’ extensive security experience. But it is challenging to set SDKs before implementing them because rogue and vulnerable SDKs are considered as a serious problem in the mobile app industry.

And the last option could be securing automation through artificial intelligence (AI). Compared to manual coding, implementing artificial intelligence can help to save time as it can be done without using coding as well as it will turn out to be an inexpensive affair.

Another critical factor that should be taken care of while outsourcing security is to make sure the platform is actually able to protect the app without introducing additional vulnerabilities.

The new normal has increased the value of mobile apps as it is the primary way of interaction between users and businesses, and cybercriminals are trying to take advantage of it. Thus, in the processes of providing an engaging, intuitive experience to the users, the protection of the apps should not be ignored.

Intending to achieve better features and functionality at the expense of security may pay-off in the short-term, but long-term consequences could be grave. Implementing security without prolonging and identifying the correct security development model that will work best for the organization should be done at the earliest.

Best practices to build app security applications

1. Performing network communications using HTTPS

Every different task needs a particular application. These apps gather and share highly confidential data, so all requests must be performed over HTTPS rather than HTTP. Also, certain validation to ensure the authenticity of the server and certificate should be used.

Exploring network communications security controls, such as Android’s NetworkSecurityConfig and Apple’s NSAppTransport Security, where both state a procedure of applying HTTPS use across the app, should also be taken into consideration.

2. Anonymous tracking

Apps use emails and passwords that can prove helpful to track users without using any direct standard authentication. API such as Firebase is one of the methods that can be used to set up an anonymous authentication scheme. If the app authentication depends on a device token, avoiding to use a non-resettable device value can cause a major violation of privacy.

3. Sensitive API request needs protection

Users depend on COVID-19 tracking apps to give API-driven relevant notifications to assist with situational awareness. The catch here will be to differentiate between original users and fake ones. Setting up an enrollment bot that can be used to fill tracker details can be designed depending on the level of control built into the API. This creates a false alarm which affects the alert system’s value in the eyes of the users.

SafetyNet reCAPTCHA by Google is another API that can act as a bot detection for any app. reCAPTCHA, in general, forces app enrollees to demonstrate that they are human, thus making it more difficult for cyber attackers.

4. Controlling third-party dependencies

Even though apps do not contain any coding issues that need security compromisation, third-party components may. Problems ranging from data storage to potential man-in-the-middle attack vulnerabilities can occur due to outdated libraries. OWASP Dependency-Check tool can help to identify potentially vulnerable components. This helps to keep up with the NIST Vulnerability Database and makes use of an abundance of plug-ins for different build processes.

5. Avoiding extraneous functionality

Extraneous apps will trigger other privacy and security problems down the road, so restricting the app’s capabilities can be a good step. Adopting in-app browsing rather than sending users to a browser adds a whole new layer of more easily avoidable security requirements.

Final extraction

Automation will help to yield proper results in the form of pass and fail, but at the same time, the development team needs to be more knowledgeable about the security risks raised. To address this, a document must be made in such a manner that it will include identified security risk, actions to be taken, and best practices. Developers need to discover different useful resources that will help to know app security and privacy requirements better.

To accomplish the demand for the development process, multiple mobile automation testing tools are easily available in the market that can help teams to evaluate different parameters of the application. Automation testing can be termed as the most relevant way to increase efficiency, effectiveness, test coverage, and productivity.

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