Best Practices for Mobile Application Security
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Let’s Understand Mobile Application Security Best Practices

The penetration of smartphones and fast internet connectivity has made mobile applications an indispensable part of our life.

Whether it’s shopping, learning, watching movies, hailing cabs, or working on-the-go– everything is possible with the help of mobile applications.

Today, there are almost 8.93 million mobile apps in both the app stores.

These numbers will only increase significantly every year.

While this is good news for app developers, there is also an increasing concern about mobile application security.
According to a recent survey, 85% of public mobile apps showed security vulnerabilities.

This is a serious concern because users enter their personal details such as account number, email id, and other credentials in the app. Hence, app developers have to take initiatives to safeguard the user’s interest.

A single security breach can make or break a brand’s reputation. It can result in losses amounting to an average of $3.86 million.

The only way to safeguard the sensitive information of users is by prioritizing mobile applications’ security.
Mobile application security safeguards the applications from security attacks of all forms. It involves studying the database, cache files, etc. to identify areas of threats and find ways to protect the device from vulnerabilities.
Companies can take preemptive measures of safeguarding mobile applications by following certain best practices.

Best Practices for Mobile Application Security

Audit the Current Security Level

Here are a few things that developers must do to audit the security level:

  • Do a thorough analysis of third-party or open-source codes to check if they are vulnerable to attacks.
  • Ensure that the application code accepts only valid security certifications and blocks the suspicious ones.
  • The application should not store any sensitive data in the local storage.
  • If the developer has built a native app, they must take extra precautions to ensure that it complies with the security measures laid down by the operating system.

Perform audits regularly and monitor the activities in the app frequently to avert major security issues.

Perform Risk Analysis

A mobile app is susceptible to various types of risks such as – technical risks, risk of data theft, malware, ransomware, etc. A complete risk assessment enables mobile app companies to safeguard it from future threats.

Here are a few ways in which developers can assess the application for risks –

  • Design the scope of assessment after a careful analysis of different usage scenarios.
  • Build a threat model to anticipate potential attacks and develop mitigation strategies to prevent them.
  • Evaluate each threat and prioritize it based on its severity. The most critical threats must be addressed first.
  • Put a control strategy in place to reduce the likelihood of each risk in the future.

Encrypt Data

Encryption is one way to safeguard the data. Encryption converts the data into a format that cannot be read by anyone else. This secures the data and ensures that hackers who get access to it cannot decrypt it unless they have an encryption key. This makes the data useless for them.

There are various ways to do encryption depending upon the platform. Android, for example, enables developers to use either file-based encryption or full-disk encryption. File-based encryption uses different keys to protect different files. They have to be unlocked independently. Full-disk encryption uses a single key to protect the entire device’s user data partition. The user has to provide their credentials before they can access any part of the disk.

Validate the APIs

Using unauthorized API is like digging the grave for the mobile application. It is like giving the hackers an open invitation to hack. Unauthorized APIs may be loosely coded. While they make the work simple for developers, they give hackers a loophole to exploit and gain authentication of the entire system. The only solution is to use validated APIs.

There are two main types of API validations.

Client-side validation: It highlights to the user that they have entered something incorrect such as invalid email id, so they can correct it immediately. In such cases, the user’s input can be validated at the user’s level itself. It need not be sent to the server for validation.
Server-side validation: Here, the user’s entry is sent to the server for validation, and feedback is sent back to the user. This helps in safeguarding the app from malicious users who might attack the app by entering malicious inputs.

Test Continuously for Security Lapses

Mobile app testers must constantly test the apps for security and reverse engineering. They must plan a complete testing strategy to keep the application secure all the time.
The strategy must include:

  • Determining the scope for testing – such as the functionality of the app, its usability, compatibility, etc.
  • Preparing test cases and deciding the right method of testing. If the tester is performing an automated test, they must create test scripts.
  • Executing the test cases and test scripts regularly to identify bugs or other issues. Determine a specific frequency to execute the tests to maintain consistency.
  • Reviewing the bugs and fix them to strengthen the application’s security.

Choose the Right Security Providers

The key to safeguarding the mobile application is to select a security provider who can be trusted. Industry-recognized bodies must certify the security provider. They should have a deep understanding of various mobile app threats and must possess the right tools, experience, and capabilities to analyze, detect, and stop the threats at an early stage. The chosen security partner will be responsible for the overall safety of the app. Hence, select them after a thorough evaluation.

Conclusion
A company’s growth is dependent on its trustworthiness, and for a mobile-first company, a secure mobile application is a sign of a healthy business. Developers and security experts must pay attention to mobile application safety. Partnering with the right security providers and frequent risk assessments can help the company to nip the security incidents in the bud itself.

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