In the first half of 2020 mobile app revenue reached $50 billion.

Mobile app installs are climbing at a rapid rate, despite the global situation. Mobile apps allow you to access a diverse range of services anywhere, at any time.

Businesses choose to build mobile apps because they want to reach more customers, and increase their revenue. In their rush to create a working app, some businesses forget about the most important factor in the development process: application security.

App security is important for protecting your customer’s data and ensuring a top-notch user experience. Developing an app with weaknesses could ruin your reputation and lose your businesses a lot of clients.

Keep read reading to find out the best ways to secure your mobile app.

Importance of Mobile Application Security

Let’s face it, these days you can do almost anything through your mobile phone. From banking to ordering pizza, there’s an app for everything! More and more businesses are investing money in building mobile apps.

When developing a mobile app, security should be a top priority. When a user downloads your app, they expect it to be secure. But as technology evolves, so do hackers.

That’s why app developers need to keep up with the latest trends in development to stay ahead of the game. There are many aspects to mobile app security, and overlooking just one of them could mean disaster.

Mobile App Security Threats

Hackers can exploit a number of tricks to break into your app and steal important data. That’s why mobile app security needs to be taken seriously.

Here are the six main application security threats to be aware of:

  1. Obtaining sensitive information: e.g. unauthorised access to private messages
  2. Gaining access to admin functions: e.g. unauthorised use of certain application functions
  3. DoS (denial of service attack): overloading the system and crashing the application
  4. Unauthorised access to application servers: remotely accessing application servers through an unauthorised remote access control attack
  5. Data leakage: when unauthorised persons gain access to private data
  6. Malware injection: installing malicious software on user devices.

Mobile applications, if not built according to correct standards, can harbour vulnerabilities. If your app stores sensitive data, security is even more important.

Tips for Securing Your Mobile App

Chances are you’re reading this article because you’re developing an app and need to understand how to make it secure.

Mobile apps are complex. There are a lot of components that need to be connected up to make it work. This includes the following:

  • Software code
  • Databases
  • Backend network
  • APIs
  • Device type
  • Operating system
  • User

Each of these components plays a role in the overall security of your app. Here are some important tips for helping you keep your app secure.

Write Secure Code

Right from the first line of code, security should be the number one priority. Hiring experienced developers that can write secure code is crucial.

When it comes to the security of your code, native apps are often more vulnerable than web apps.

With web apps, the software code and app data are hosted on a secure server. The user accesses the app through their browser, which acts as an interface. In other words, nothing is stored locally on their device.

Native apps, however, are different. Native apps must be downloaded onto a user’s device and therefore all the code resides there. This makes them more vulnerable to malicious attacks.

During the development process, you should constantly test your code for weak points and vulnerabilities. Protect your code with encryption to ensure it’s safe from hackers.

Write code based on well-supported algorithms and plugins. Code should also be obfuscated and minified. And remember to engineer your code for agility so that’s it’s easy to update, should you find a weak point.

Authentication and Authorisation

Integrating authentication and authorisation into your app is crucial for security. These technologies help users prove who they are, ensuring that the wrong user doesn’t gain entry to your app.

If your app calls third-party APIs, remember to exercise caution. Ensure these APIs only provide access to the necessary parts of your application. This will help reduce risk.

Only use third-party APIs that are safe and secure.

When it comes to managing secure user connections, OAuth2 has become the gold standard. You can implement the OAuth2 framework into your app by installing it onto your authorisation server. OAuth2 authenticated users by issuing one-time tokens and ensures maximum security.

When it comes to exchanging data via your mobile app, JSON web tokens are an ideal solution.

Network Security

Smartphone apps access APIs hosted on cloud servers. Ensure that these servers have security measures to prevent hackers from gaining access.

During development, test APIs and verify they are secure. No unauthorised users should be able to access your backend network connections.

Make use of containerisation to securely store necessary data and documents. Also, think about encrypting your databases and connections with a VPN and/or SSL layer for added protection.

Finally, you may want to hire a network security consultant to test your backend security. They will be able to ensure your data is protected in the right ways.

Encrypt User Data

Native mobile apps store data on a user’s device. The data on their device, the more vulnerable the app is (even if it’s temporary). Some apps can “leak” customer data without them knowing. This includes location, device type, etc.

To mitigate data breaches and leaks, it’s important to encrypt all user data. File-level encryption is a method for protected individual files so they cannot be intercepted.

There are also several ways of encrypting mobile databases. The encrypted SQLite module that comes with Appcelerator is one way to do this.

When you’re building your app, it’s important you design it such that important data is not stored locally. This includes user passwords, credit card information, and location data. Ensure all sensitive information is secure and encrypted.

Secure Your APIs

Mobile apps rely on APIs. That’s why API security is such a big part of mobile application protection.

APIs allow data to flow to and from your app, the cloud, and various end-users. APIs are how mobile apps deliver content and functionality. Implementing a solid API security strategy is key when developing an app.

When it comes to securing your APIs, the main security measures you need to have in place are identification, authorisation, and authentication.

Understand Platform Limitations

Different users have different devices and operating systems. This needs to be taken into account when securing and building your app.

Platform-specific features and limitations influence the development process. Understand how different platforms operate will allow you to create the most secure mobile app.

The way you code your app should reflect the various platforms you plan to host it on. Ensure your code and APIs are compatible with different operating systems to enhance security.

That’s why testing is so important.

Test, Test, Test

Having a proper testing/QA process in place is crucial for mobile app security. After all, how do you know if your app is secure if you haven’t yet tested it?

Many developers/companies overlook the importance of this step. And while it can take time to complete, it’s worth it to avoid a cyberattack.

Testing is important no matter what kind of app you’re building. Native apps, web apps, and hybrid progressive web apps should all be thoroughly tested.

During the QA process conduct penetration testing to identify weaknesses on your network. Check for any issues with authentication, authorisation, or data leakage.

You can test apps on different devices and operating systems by using emulators. An emulator provides you with a simulated environment in which to install and access your application.

Educate Your Users on Mobile Device Security

One part of mobile app security that developers have little control over is the user’s device. Users with compromised devices may encounter app security problems. Educating users about device security benefits both the user and your business.

For example, a jailbroken or rooted device is more vulnerable to breaches. Why? Because it lacks built-in security measures.

Another useful tip is to only download apps from verified sources such as verified app stored.

Choose EB Pearls For Secure Mobile App Development

You should now understand the basics of mobile application security.

When building a secure mobile app, writing secure code should be your top priority. However, it’s also important to consider other components such as the backend network, APIs, databases, etc.

Here at EB Pearls, we offer mobile application development for innovative businesses. In fact, we’ve worked with some of Australia’s leading startups.

Are you ready to improve your business with an intuitive, stunning and successful mobile app? Contact us today to get started.

Akash Shakya

Coming from distributed computing background, Akash manages the Sydney operations. He is highly technical yet very business focused and is always driven to create successful business products for our clients.

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