While innovation and exceptional building experiences are the cruces of mobile app development, security should also be a main priority. The vulnerabilities of apps, such as the leaking of log-in credentials and damage caused by threat actors, have been well documented, showing that security still has a long way to go.
CTOs seeking improved app development approaches and returns should focus more on compliance, data security, encryption, and other key security elements that optimize mobile app performance. Here are five best practices for mobile app security to consider, spanning multiple industries.
A mobile app security application needs to be fully compliant for optimal functionality and to facilitate widespread adoption. A failure to fulfill compliance standards leads to data breaches triggering devastating financial losses and lost business opportunities. Plus, customers won’t use an app if it’s not compliant, with 84% of people factoring in security when deciding to install an app.
In the financial services industry, PCI DSS compliance is crucial when developing mobile apps. This includes the securing of stored cardholder data, encryption, and key management. Cardholder data should not be stored until it’s fully necessary to meet business objectives, while sensitive authentication data should not be stored after authorization, even after being encrypted. Additionally, financial services apps should be compliant with SOC and SOC 2, setting up mobile apps equipped with a basic app monitoring system, centralized logging from a secure spot, and the identity of vulnerabilities.
Alternatively, there is the important matter of achieving HIPAA compliance for healthcare apps, including for telemedicine apps to provide fool-proof patient security and condition-based apps preserving key medical information. HIPAA-compliant mobile apps like mobile scanning apps should adhere to confidentiality standards and the avoidance of fraud or discrimination, effectively preserving patient health information (PHI).
Source Code Encryption
Because the code in many mobile apps, particularly native apps, is based on the client side, malware can easily track any source code and design vulnerabilities. For enhanced mobile app security, developers can include detection tools and ensure apps are robust enough to combat reverse engineering and prevent tampering. Encrypting source code makes it unreadable to cybercriminals and helps defend mobile apps against infiltration, while making your apps work harder for you.
Security breaches typically occur due to a lack of high-level authentication practices. Standard password approval simply isn’t good enough in a digital world where hackers are becoming increasingly savvy when stealing information.
As a result, developers should focus on improving mobile app security applications by creating apps that make use of strong alphanumeric passwords, two-factor authentication, or biometrics. Alternatively, businesses can mandate that clients and end-users change passwords frequently to keep potential attackers guessing. For highly sensitive apps, such as healthcare apps and financial apps that deal with a customer’s sensitive information, developers should explore passwordless solutions like biometric authentication, which require retina or fingerprint recognition to validate identity.
Improving Backend Security
Another major aspect of mobile app security is protecting the backend. For apps with client-server mechanisms, having security measures to safeguard against attacks on backend servers is vital to ensure premium functionality.
A lot of developers make misleading assumptions that only an app that’s programmed to access application programming interfaces (APIs) can access the backend. Instead, developers should verify both the APIs and the individuals who access the servers. By doing so, you can secure the client-to-server data transfer.
Minimizing The Storage of Sensitive Data
Many developers prefer storing sensitive data in a device’s local memory. However, storing sensitive data for long periods increases security risks such as accidental deletion or unauthorized access. If developers have no choice but to do so, it’s best advised to use key chains or encrypted data containers that protect sensitive data against accidental or unauthorized access.
Security is one of the most important and difficult aspects, especially for apps–they’re literally in our pockets at all times. Mobile app development, therefore, needs to be at the forefront of security, not something to be tacked on as an afterthought. So, build exceptional experiences not just through great design and functionality but by building trust in the security of the apps you’re developing.