Securing iOS and Android Mobile Application Development
Thousand new Android and iOS mobile applications hit App Stores every week. According to AppBrain, the growth rate of Google PlayStore is more than 1,300 apps every day and Statista reported in 2015 that Apple App Store was growing by nearly 1,000 apps every day. These staggering numbers show how far mobile application development has reached, despite being newly incepted. However, this raises another concern. With so much on the developmental front, how many of these apps are secure enough to be trusted with sensitive and personal information?
Take a look at some of the unnerving statistics published in the Mobile Security Report by NowSecure in 2016:
- An average of 53,309 mobile apps were released every month on App Store in 2015.
- The average smartphone connects to nearly 160 unique IP Addresses every day.
- 7% mobile apps have a high-risk security flaw.
- 35% communications sent via mobile phones are unencrypted.
- Gaming apps are 1.5% more probable of carrying high-risk vulnerabilities.
- Business apps are thrice as more likely to leak login credentials than your average apps.
Scary, right? We focus so much on making apps impeccable in design and user experience that we forget the most important aspect of customer retention – secure online transactions via mobile applications.
Just how important is Mobile App Security?
NowSecure, for its report, tested 400,000 apps for vulnerabilities. The results were quite surprising. Nearly 10.8% of all mobile applications leaked sensitive data over a network.
- There was at least one high-risk vulnerability in one out of four mobile apps.
- Out of 5,104 business mobile applications, 27.6% had one high-risk vulnerability.
- 5,201 finance mobile applications were tested, out of which 16.9% had a high-risk vulnerability.
- In testing 56,964 mobile gaming applications, 32.8% apps leaked sensitive data.
- 8% of 2,947 shopping mobile apps possessed system file issues.
The question here is not about how many, the question here is "How come, so many?" the rate at which apps are being developed irrespective of meeting mobile app security standards, a major security catastrophe is right around the corner.
I am concerned. What should I do? Should I not build an app for my business?
No. Build an app for your business. Just don't build a weak one!
Regardless of whether you are a developer or a business owner, you need to be mindful of security issues that affect mobile applications. These need to be addressed during the developmental phase or during mobile application testing phase. Being vigilant about security on your mobile app will protect your information from notorious hackers and malware and give your users a safe user experience.
I'm game, tell me about these loopholes!
There are 8 parameters which compromise on your app's security. These are:
- Flaws in every Operating System
For a long time, iOS platform by Apple was considered the most secure. All the apps undergo a screening process before being released to users on Apple AppStore. Sadly, the process cannot guarantee the security of all apps. Android, on the other hand, takes the approach from user's perspective. Good and bad reviews sort out apps likewise. The truth, however, is, you cannot trust an operating system for your app's security. It is better to put proper safeguards in place.
- Weak or lack of encryption
The encryption algorithms, with the advent of technology, become obsolete and easy to crack. Needless to say, your app needs a constant upgrade to tighten security issues. You put sensitive customer information at risk if the app has weak encryption.
- Vulnerabilities in Data Caching
Mobile devices store short-term information for quick retrieval. This is called Caching. Although caching increased app speed, it also makes mobile devices vulnerable for hackers to access cached information. You can introduce passwords for using apps but most users find apps inconvenient. Another solution is the cached data is automatically wiped every time smartphone reboots.
- Using outsourced Code
Who needs to build code from scratch when there is so much free code available on the net? This may sound fitting at the spur of the moment but might cost you and your company in the long run. Hackers often create codes which give them access to any and all information. Simple solution – do your research before picking up any stray code randomly. Be on the lookout for minute loopholes hidden in between lines of codes. As always, go for verified and trusted sources for a code.
- Neglecting physical security breaches
There is pretty much nothing you can do if the device gets stolen or lost. You can, nevertheless, implement a local session timeout mechanism. This asks users for a password after periodic time intervals and in case the password is lost, access to the app is lost as well. Though the phone was stolen, you can still prevent theft of sensitive information from apps.
- Securing server communication
Most mobile applications handling sensitive user information connect back to the server. Ensuring safe transit in such cases should be the utmost priority for developers. You do not want any information leaks over insecure Wi-Fi connections. Use the right SSL Certificates and right encryption so that user information is not compromised.
- Rolling out timely security updates and quick patching
Hackers and phishers are always on the lookout for apps which do not release security updates frequently. Keep releasing security updates frequently and urge your users to download and update their apps with the patch. There is no room for ignorance or sluggishness if your app deals with transactions, payments and personal information. Stay one ahead of hackers with frequent security releases.
- Mobile app security testing
As an app developer, you are the last line of defence against security breaches. The insecure app puts the company as well as user information at risk. Never rush to release an app which has not been tested for application security standards. Test all possible combinations for security evasion including hardware components such as camera, sensors and native software such as GPS and Operating System.
At BluEnt, we believe in developing iOS application and Android mobile applications which are in sync with the mobile industry security standards. Our versatile and experienced mobile app development team creates custom applications which give your customers safe user experience. Get in touch today to see how we can help you out in mobile application development.
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