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Security Issues App Developers Need To Deal With While Developing a Mobile App

With digitization, mobile applications are taking over the world. And with this growth rate, companies are finding it hard to focus on the security aspect of the applications. App security has become a topic of debate these days with reports of popular apps being hacked by hackers surfacing the internet. Well, everything online can be easily hacked and influenced by malicious attackers. And mobile applications are no different. Thus, it is important for mobile app developers to look into the security aspect of the application and provide new features so that the user data and information can remain safe.

When you log into any mobile application, one of the first things you are asked to do is provide your personal information. And the data you provide is vulnerable to security threats if proper security controls and measures are not implemented during the development of the application. If you are a mobile app developer or a business owner, it is your responsibility to look into the threats looming around mobile applications.

Hackers and attackers are constantly targeting mobile applications to gain access to personal details and information of consumers with intent to maliciously use it.

So, you need to be aware of the top security issues while building mobile applications for both Android and iOS platforms.

With that said, we have listed down the top security issues app developers need to deal with while developing a mobile app.

Let’s jump right into it.

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1. Writing code that is not secure

When we talk about a mobile application, code is its most vulnerable feature, which can be easily exploited by hackers and attackers. Therefore, it is important that you write highly secure code for the application. According to reports, over 11 million devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.) are affected by malicious codes. If the code is not secure, hackers can easily reverse engineer it and use it in a corrupt way. Thus, you need to work on developing a hard code that is not easy to break. Moreover, you need to follow agile development strategies so that you can update your code from time to time without any hassle.

Experienced developers use best coding practices like signing in and code hardening for developing the best quality code.

2. Failing to encrypt data

Encryption is the process of converting data transmitting into a form that it is impossible to read or access without decryption. Popular mobile apps use data encryption during development, as it is an efficient way to protect data from being accessed by malicious attackers and used in a bad way. With encryption, even if the hacker steals the data, they cannot decrypt it and therefore, it is of no use to them. Thus, mobile app developers need to develop an application where the data is completely encrypted.

3. Not using libraries carefully

Most often, when developing mobile applications, there might arise the need to use third-party libraries. This is important for code building. However, such libraries cannot be trusted since most of them are not secure. In such a scenario, what a good app developer would do is test the code after using various kinds of libraries. This ensures whether the code is not compromised due to vulnerabilities of the libraries. The vulnerabilities in the libraries can provide hackers access to the code, use malicious code, or crash the system.

Related Article – Tried & Tested Tips on Mobile App Security

4. Using unauthorized APIs

Application Programming Interface or API is a software intermediary that allows two applications to communicate with each other. Using API is a critical part of app development. However, inexperienced developers, without knowing the source of the API, use it in their app code. By doing this, they are welcoming hackers. It is important that you always use authorized API in your app code. Using unauthorized APIs gives attackers the privilege to use your data. For example, if you use unauthorized API, hackers can use your authorization information caches to gain access to the system. Once they have access to your system, they can simply crash your system or use it to do malicious activities.

Expert mobile app developers recommend using a central authorization for the complete Application Programming Interface for gaining optimum security in the app.

5. Not using high-level authentication

One of the major security issues that app developers need to deal with later is when they realize they haven’t used high-level authentication when developing the mobile application. When we talk about mobile application security, the authentication mechanism is the most critical part. Weak authentication can lead to the mobile app facing several vulnerabilities, such as password issues, among others. From a security perspective, user authentication must be considered if you are a mobile app developer. As said earlier, the password is the most common mode of user authentication. Thus, the password policy of the app you create must be strong enough so that it cannot be easily broken or decoded.

On the other hand, multi-factor authentication is another method to keep the mobile app secure. Multi-factor authentication can be achieved through the means of mails, authentication code, or OTP login, and even through biometrics.

Related Article – Vital Skills for Successful Android & iOS Mobile App Developers

In mobile app development, session handling is one of the most important features to include. This aspect should be carefully handled because mobile sessions are longer than the sessions on the desktop. Some developers forget about it and tend to assign desktop sessions on their mobile apps. Session management is done to maintain the security of the application in case the device is lost or stolen. Moreover, experts recommend using tokens instead of identifiers when managing sessions.

7. Not testing properly

Mobile applications developed should be tested repeatedly so that you can find the hidden vulnerabilities and determine other complexities. Since the security trend in mobile application development is changing day by day, you need to keep the app up to date with the latest security measures. Experts suggest using emulators and penetration testing for determining and vulnerabilities in the mobile application.

Final Words:

These are the most common security issues faced by mobile app developers in recent times. It is important to look after them including those that we haven’t mentioned. It is the responsibility of the development team to be aware of all the security threats looming around a mobile application so that maximum efforts can be put to eradicate the issues.

secured app development

Tried & Tested Tips on Mobile App Security

“Caution; this app can steal your data!” – This thought haunts the minds of your prospective customers before they even download your app. For that matter, everyone is careful of apps which are a security threat. So, an app that you thought was your best product can also stop selling, if you have not worked on securing it against the possible hazards.

What is mobile app security?

The most common security issues on mobile apps are data leakage, broken encryption, mal-handling of sessions, and faulty authorization management. These are some of the crucial areas in mobile app development, and every developer must have to know how to deal with them before the app reaches the users.

Fine, so you understand that mobile app security is essential. Now read on to find out what you should do, to ensure that you deliver a secured mobile app.

  1. Obfuscation & Minification

Obfuscation & Minification

Obfuscation and minification are familiar terms for any developer, but the importance of these is often underestimated.

As you are aware, obfuscation is done to confuse hackers. Code comments, extra formatting, and unnecessary coding can also make your app vulnerable. Anything that helps make the code readability better can make it easy for hackers too, to decode and manipulate.

Obfuscation makes your code difficult to read. So, despite code vulnerabilities, your obfuscated code won’t be any how easy for hackers to reach.

Minification involves removing useless code, comments, and formatting without affecting the functionality of the mobile app. So, minification is a popular obfuscation technique.

Another way of obfuscation is to prevent tampering with anti-tamper injections. In any event of tampering, the application shuts down automatically and prevents hacking operations.

There are tools which help you with code obfuscation such as ProGuard Java Optimizer, Javaguard, DashO Android, and Java Obfuscator.

  1. Protect API

protect api

Securing APIs with the key is very important for the health of your apps. Although many have started using API keys, they must observe simple caution procedures too. You must avoid placing the server key in client code.

Moreover, if you are using the Google Developer Console to create a key, do apply the required restrictions to prevent data theft.

Use of tokens and two-factor authentication is another right way of authorizing apps to collect and post data, on your behalf. Needless to say, authorization and authentication are inevitable for a secure API.

  1. Containerization

Containerization

Network security is a significant concern of app developers. Using containerization ecosystems such as Docker and Kubernetes, you can completely secure the cloud servers and servers accessed by APIs.

Through containerization, an app is bundled with its libraries, configuration files, and dependencies, to safeguard it against any external threats.

Similarly, for securing your databases, it is wise to use encryption using SSL, TLS, or a virtual private network.

  1. Encrypt Local data

encryption

Data stored locally on the device is automatically prone to attacks and security threats.

Many apps collect personal information and financial information of the user. The most sensitive of these are the credit card details and passwords.

Let’s admit, at times apps must store information which is necessary, and sensitive on the other. So, the final solution is to store such data with proper encryption.

  1. App Security Testing

mobile app security testing

Mobile app security testing is not just a strategy for ensuring app security; it is however a collection of activities and processes.

Broadly, mobile application security testing includes checking for vulnerabilities in authentication, authorization, data security, and session management, etc. Protection against hacking is a crucial objective of mobile app testing. Comprehensive app testing exposes the potential security problems persisting with the app.

Various problems can be identified through effective app testing. It can reveal if there is any inappropriate use of the platform such as, giving app permissions to access unnecessary features like contacts, gallery, etc.

An app stores loads of data. But, app testing should be used to find out if it is even necessary for the app to store all of it! Eliminate the non-essentials, and keep your app clutter-free.

Apps exchange data over the internet. This data must be encrypted for security. So, mobile app testing helps you identify, if your app is using the right data encryption.

Similarly, identify and remove unnecessary third-party code.

Faults in user identification and failing to maintain the user session is a serious security glitch observed in apps. However, security testing can help you detect these.

It is never a good idea to launch your app without thorough testing. Developers who risk taking security testing lightly, lose the trust of their clients.

To Summarize

Recent research by GoodFirms suggests that users give importance to app security. And so they are hesitant to give app permissions to access their device storage, contact list, and location. So, to sell your app, you must build trust among your prospective customers.

I have listed some easy ways to increase your mobile app security. I am sure there are many more ideas for building that perfectly secured app. However, you must do thorough research and select and implement only those which are suitable for your app development project.

secured app development

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