5 Steps to Improve Mobile Application Security

Rapid advancements in technology have led us into a new realm of communication, information sharing and business networking. At the same time, such increased dependence on technology have made business organizations vulnerable to cyber attacks. Cyber crimes are rising dramatically and the scale and complexity of these attacks is wide ranging. As cyber attacks evolve and become more sophisticated, businesses are faced with an expanding threat landscape.

According to Ninth Annual Cost of Cybercrime Study conducted by Accenture and Ponemon Institute, a 67% increase has been reported in security breaches in the last five years and the average cost of cybercrime for an organization increased from US$1.4 million to US$13.0 million. Moreover, the study also reported that cyberthieves are rapidly adapting to exploit, scam, and extort victims in both corporate and private environments. Increasing rate of mobile frauds at an alarming pace is a case in point. As the world has gone mobile, so have the cybercrimes. Growing popularity of mobile as a banking and ecommerce channel have made it vulnerable to cybercriminals. In fact, over 60% of online fraud is accomplished through mobiles. Fraud carried out through mobile apps have increased by 600% since 2015 (RSA). Business organizations need to upgrade the security and build resilience in their mobile platforms to safeguard their consumers from fraud.

With mobile internet usage growing quickly, businesses and customers are exposed to an increasing variety of cyber threats. Therefore, the security of any mobile application is a critical concern. If you are planning to launch an application, then it is crucial to integrate advanced security processes right from the earliest stages of app development. So, here are a few tips to help you develop a secure mobile application.

1. Research the subject


Mobile security is a rapidly advanced sector and it is essential to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and tools. Spend ample amount of time to research the latest aspects of mobile security. Developers can either browse through online forums and websites or speak with the security specialists to gain a sound knowledge of the subject. Following specific blogs and community discussions will be a huge plus. Learning about the security breaches and vulnerabilities will help you implement the best preventive measures. Identify and make the best use of security tools to detect the possible vulnerabilities in your mobile application.

2. Build safe architecture to protect source code


Native mobile applications are extremely vulnerable to breaches and attacks, as the app code resides on the device after app downloading. App’s source code stored in device is always at a high risk of theft and leakage. When phones are jailbroken, a hacker can access the source code and modify the whole mobile application thus compromising the safety of customer data.
Hence, your mobile application should be designed and developed to prohibit the storage of critical user information on the device directly. Protect the source code with algorithms and API (Application Programming Interface) encryption. Always scan and test the source code to detect vulnerabilities. However, make sure to pay heed to runtime memory, performance, data usage, battery consumption and file size of your mobile application to ensure a seamless user experience and performance.

3. Secure backend connections


Mobile applications with connections to cloud services should have stringent security measures in place to avoid eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle attacks. Download libraries from trusted sources only and validate all the server connections in detail. Database encryption, HTTPS connection between the app and the server, and encrypted connections with a VPN (Virtual Private Network) are a few methods to ensure secure network connections.

4. Pay heed to encryption and privacy policy


While developing a mobile application, key management should be of prime concern as it ensures regulatory compliance and secures data from risks posed by privileged users. Store the private keys within a secure, well-managed infrastructure in order to avoid breaches and theft. Make it a point to employ the highest level of cryptographic technique for key management. Furthermore, implement the best encryption policy to store critical user information and app’s source code. It is recommended to use AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) with a 256-bit key for encryption and SHA-256 for hashing, whenever possible. Avoid storing sensitive customer data to device directly. If the mobile application is designed to handle critical information frequently, then make sure it is stored in encrypted format.

5. Test the application


Testing and Quality Assurance (QA) is a crucial part of mobile application development. Yet, many developers overlook its importance. Have an experienced testing and QA team to test your application regularly. Putting the mobile through rigorous testing helps to uncover security vulnerabilities in every part of application architecture. A penetration test is an ideal security test to determine whether unauthorized access or other malicious activity is possible. Focusing on client-side security, file systems, hardware and network security, penetration testing addresses the risks identified throughout the environment.

With mobile app frauds on the rise, it is a must to integrate multi-layer security to your mobile applications. Most vulnerabilities and malicious attacks can be avoided, if security measures are implemented effectively.




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