14 Best Practices for Your Mobile App Security
Whenever it comes to the mobile app security, it still remains the #1 concern for all the business owners and the mobile app development companies.
Any data leakage can cost you a bomb and most importantly, the loss of business, high-valued customers, and the brand reputation.
But, the security concerns remain right from the operating system and development platform that you chose to how you implement the security codes in the mobile app.
So, everybody including you wants to know what can be done to secure the mobile app for long. And, that is the reason we most often receive the following queries:
What are the hacks to secure our mobile app completely?
What are the best practices I should follow to ensure my mobile app security?
Are there any quick fixes that can help me to instantly secure my app?
So, to answer all of your queries, we bring the 14 unavoidable best practices that tighten the security of your mobile apps:
1. Begin with the source code security
Nowadays, each and every programming language has become easy-to-read and easy-to-code. Almost each programming language is open-source, making it open for all and free to use.
And, the hackers are the experts at coding. They work day in and day out on codes on how to get within the code and open all doors to fetch the data that they want. So, it’s pretty quick for them to crack the code and inject the malware.
And, that’s the reason, the mobile app security should begin with securing the source code.
So, how to secure the source code of the mobile app?
- You can use OWASP methodology while coding but don’t just stay limited to it
- You can minify the code
- You can add obfuscation
These source code security best practices for your mobile app makes it difficult for the hackers to understand the language. And, that’s how you make your mobile app safe.
2. Secure all your servers and network connections
Now, the next best practice is to secure your servers and the network connections.
- Servers have all your mobile app files stored
- You have your own, as well as the 3rd party APIs to communicate with the server
- Servers help your mobile app to process and deliver the app pages on the client-side
Also, network security remains among the top three concerns for the IT, telecom, and network decision makers as per an Oracle survey.
And, if your server gets affected with malware attacks, you are likely to lose your app data, your users’ trust, and your brand reputation.
So, now how to protect your mobile app server from all such malware attacks?
- Install firewalls
- Use SSL to secure the servers
- Use passwords to protect the servers from unauthorized access
- Securing MySQL database
- Protect your CMS
- Ensure monitoring for your server
- Use containerization to securely store your data
- Use federation security to allow secured collaboration between systems, networks, and organizations
3. Work on Platform-Specific limitations
Not all businesses go for developing mobile applications on both- iOS and Android. Some of them choose either iOS or Android, based on the various considerations and app requirements.
But, in both the cases, both of the platforms have their own specific limitations that affect the security of your mobile apps.
You would be surprised to know that the most common way on how the Android and iOS devices get hacked is through the operating system and hardware vulnerabilities that take over the entire control of the devices.
So, how to ensure the platform-specific mobile app security measures are up-to-date?
- Protect the app against the communication taking place between the mobile app and the device’s functionalities such as geolocation
- Understand the user scenarios where platform-specific limitations can be a hindrance to the mobile app security and work upon the same in advance
- Setup password and encryption security measures to avoid any malware attacks to the operating systems
Even the platforms you choose need app security best practices to be followed.
4. Secure APIs
In a survey that took place at the beginning of the year 2018 that showcased the concern for the cybersecurity risk related to APIs. In that survey, 63% of IT professionals are most worried about DDoS threats, bot attacks, and authentication enforcements for APIs.
How to secure APIs for your mobile app?
- Tampering the input parameter of the APIs with the help of profiling the APIs
- Combine API profiling with anti-scraping policies as that can detect the DDoS attacks
- Include API identification, authentication, and authorization for the API-related security risks
- Keep a close eye on the communication taking place between the APIs and the app users
- Setup OAuth, HTTPs, SeaCat standardized protocols
- Use JSON web tokens to improve the mobile security
Nowadays, most of the tasks take place with the help of APIs and taking it lightly could cause you serious security threats.
So, make sure you secure APIs used within your mobile apps.
5. Improve your data security
Another mobile app security best practice is to work upon the data security.
Recently, Facebook was criticised for data security breach that revealed the personal details of 50m of its users.
To ensure that this does not happen with your organization, it is important to make sure there are provisions already made for the data security of your mobile app users.
And, how can you do that?
- Set up a data security strategy and even a policy that works around gathering up each and every possibility of the data breaches
- Consider leading brands whose data security was affected and how they have made the new precautions and work upon the same for your mobile app as well
- There is a provision to secure the data in the sandbox with the help of SQLite Database Encryption modules
- Work upon decentralized user-controlled security system to strengthen the cybersecurity
So, that was to make provisions for the data security of your mobile apps.
6. Encrypt the data-in-transit
The most critical part while securing the mobile app is to secure the data that is on-the-way while communication taking place between the app users and the back-end.
So, the mobile app security is not limited to securing source codes, back-ends, and the APIs. It needs more attention to the data-in-transit.
What are the best practices to secure the data-in-transit?
- Avoid reactive security measures and use proactive security measures
- Develop the security policies that appropriately categorize and classify the app users’ data to ensure data security measures are implied
- Enable user prompting, blocking and even encrypting the sensitive data automatically ensures the security of the data-in-transit
- Set up WPA2 Enterprise to encrypt all data that is being transferred between the servers and the app users
- Use SSL/TLS certificates to secure the data-in-transit
So, the data-in-transit needs extra carefulness towards mobile app security.
7. Avoid Data Leakage
Almost every mobile application asks for the permissions to access a certain amount of data from the app users.
And, the users have no choice but to accept it to allow the mobile app to be downloaded and installed.
This is just one instance where the data leakage is most likely to happen. But, if your mobile app is going to compromise on the data breaches, your reputation is all set to be ruined.
So, what are the best practices to prevent data leakage?
- Restrict the data resources with the help of access controls as they are more likely to prevent the data leakage
- Dynamic data masking (DDM) restricts the sensitive data exposure to the non-privileged users by masking the same
- Set up the alerts whenever there are hints of data being leaked
- Utilize Tokenization which replaces the critical data with the unique identification system that prevents the data leakage
8. Utilize Cryptography encryption
One of the most advanced data security approaches is to encrypt the data using the strong encryption algorithm, Cryptography.
In Cryptography, there are various algorithms that work upon the encrypting the data for the data security purposes.
Check out the types of Cryptography algorithms:
The ones that are mentioned above are currently the best and the strongest of all the other Crypto encryption algorithms.
And, it is highly recommended to use them for your mobile security.
9. Avoid storing critical data
Almost all of the mobile users store their personal as well as sensitive data such as credit card details, passwords, and much more on their mobile devices.
And, you cannot ask the users to not do the same.
Rather, here are the things that you can think of doing-
- Encrypt the data before they are stored on the mobile devices using containers or key chains.
- Implement the cookies to secure the highly confidential data as we mentioned above.
- Most of the apps have log files that are unnecessary or unimportant for the mobile app users. So, a mechanism needs to be placed that deletes all the log files automatically at the regular intervals. After all, you cannot ask your app users to do so.
10. Secure BYOD
Nowadays, most of the enterprises have started encouraging Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).
If you are one of them, then you need to work on the data security harshly as it is considered as the most crucial thing for your organization.
Now, looking at these statistics and concerns, you need to follow the below best practices to ensure data security:
- Develop security policies for all the devices and those policies should include every what, when, why, where, and how of the devices and data being used by the employees
- Install a VPN (Virtual Private Network) on the employees mobile devices to remain strict against any data breaches
- Keep all the mobile devices secured with the help of high-quality antivirus software that protects the devices from getting into the trap of any malware activities
- Password management software needs to be a part of the security policies in order to secure the passwords at the organization level
- Security precautions need to be placed in order to secure the device against any sensitive transaction taking place
- There are some features need to be added in the mobile devices in order to control the access of the company’s email, social media, etc.
- Also, as I said above that the logs need to be deleted automatically at the regular intervals to avoid data leakage
11. Ensure Tight Password Security
If your mobile app has to access and store critical data of the app users, you need to enforce the toughest password security to ensure that the critical data is not exposed.
What type of password you want to enable is up to you. But, the password should not be complex that the user gets frustrated to generate, remember, and even use.
This is one of the best practices to ensure your mobile app is secure.
12. Update Operating System
Every time, there is an update to the operating system, there are new security patches and fixes to existing ones.
That means the new updated operating system is the improved version from the earlier. So, you need to ensure you develop your mobile app which is updated regularly based on the upcoming OS updates.
This helps even your mobile app to have the improved security patches.
13. Perform security testing regularly
Almost all the business owners want their mobile apps to be developed faster. And, in a fear to lose a customer, the mobile app developers agree to the point to develop the apps even before their estimated time period.
That is why we discussed in detail about how much time it takes to develop a mobile app.
But, in a hurry to deliver faster, the developers skip to test the app for security issues and release it.
And, what is the result of it?
- There are apps that are prone to vulnerabilities
- There are apps that are likely to get into the trap of malware activities
- And, whatnot
So, what can be the best practices need to be followed to avoid this?
- Rigorously conduct penetration testing to test the security performance of the mobile app
- Use manual as well as automated testing tools to check for the unattended bugs
- Conduct usability testing at regular intervals
- Don’t compromise on testing as it is equally important as the development
- Encourage the use of Emulators to test the app on various devices, operating systems, and browsers
14. Bring hackers to QA
Surprised to see this as a best practice to secure your mobile apps and even devices?
There are various companies including Google who do this on a regular basis. Before launching, they bring up the hackers to find out the security issues within their products.
So, it is one of the most important things for the mobile app developers to bring hackers to check for the quality of the mobile apps and see if anybody can break the app and get into the same.
Well, not all the organizations can afford the same, but if you have the budget, you should do it.
The mobile app security is and will remain the top concern among the business owners and even the mobile app development companies. But, the most important thing is to bring up-to-date solutions to the same.
Hence, it is imperative to follow all these best practices to avoid any data breaches, keep your mobile app safe, and your customers’ trust intact for your brand.