The mobile app market is burgeoning, with more users downloading apps than ever before. However, this proliferation has also resulted in a surge in the vulnerabilities that “backdoor” cyber-crooks exploit to gain access to unauthorized information.
According to a WhiteHat Security survey, about 50% of the applications exhibit security vulnerabilities. So, it doesn’t come as a surprise that mobile app security remains a topic of discussion.
To that end, this blog will examine current issues with mobile app security and what can be done to increase user privacy.
1. Insecure Data Storage
Mobile apps store sensitive data, including personal information and financial details. If there are loopholes in mobile app-data storage, then there is a serious threat to the application’s security. Suppose an app stores payment card numbers in plain text instead of encrypted form. In that case, hackers could easily make malicious moves and use them to facilitate fraudulent transactions.
2. Unintended Data Leakage
When the app is connected to a server, the server can accidentally send too much information back to the app. This can include things like the user’s name and password, which can be used to compromise different accounts. Such stolen information can put the entire mobile application network at risk, as hackers could use it to find other vulnerabilities.
3. Weak Server-Side Controls
Server-side controls are the first line of defense against malicious code and hackers. They act as gatekeepers to the app, blocking users from accessing unauthorized content and preventing unwanted access to personal data. If server-side controls are not in place, hackers can access sensitive information such as credit card numbers, account passwords, addresses, and more.
4. Client-Side Injection
A client-side injection is when the app inserts data into the server the way it wants it rather than the way the server wants it. The result is that an attacker could modify code on their machine and send data to the server that appears to be coming from your app but is actually emanating from the attacker’s machine/devices. As such, attackers can access sensitive information and perform alterations.
5. Broken Cryptography
Cryptography is the science of encrypting data. It is used in many applications, such as banking, email, and internet communication. As the name suggests, broken cryptography refers to breaking or cracking the encryption process in a mobile app. This can be done by analyzing the code and finding out the algorithm used by it. Once this is accomplished, hackers can easily break into the target system and access its data.
6. Improper Session Handling
Session hijacking is a common method of stealing data from mobile apps. An attacker can access the session ID or cookies, which are used to identify a user’s login session.
As per one report, more than 30% of iOS apps use insecure HTTP (compared to HTTPS). Attackers can exploit this loophole to take over the active session and log into the app as if they were the victim.
To prevent this issue, developers should implement secure authentication mechanisms that prevent session hijacking attacks. These include using HTTPS connections, employing two-factor authentication, and enforcing a robust password policy.
7. Security Decisions Via Untrusted Inputs/Lack of Input Validation
This is a serious problem in mobile app security, and it’s likely the most common. It involves the use of an application that has been designed to make security decisions based on data received from an untrusted source.
This means that any user input is trusted by default, regardless of where it came from. Unsurprisingly, this accrues dangerous consequences if the user input contains malicious code, which could then be used to steal data or cause other problems.
Best Practices to Keep Mobile Apps Secure
- Use multifactor authentication
- Encrypt all data in transit and at rest
- Update the systems and apps frequently to prevent being vulnerable to known vulnerabilities
- Ensure that apps are patched and secure, including the operating system and any third-party libraries or frameworks you use (including those provided by App Engine).
- Use strong passwords, especially for admin accounts that can access sensitive data like credit card numbers or social security numbers
- Use Google Cloud Platform’s built-in sandboxing capabilities for Android devices to isolate apps from each other — so that if one app is compromised, it can’t affect others on the device or gain access to sensitive information stored in other apps’ databases or caches
- Keep up with industry best practices for developing secure mobile applications, such as following OWASP principles
Mobile app security has become a common concern among users. This is because of the number of app vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to access sensitive information. Therefore, app developers should stay on top of industry best practices and keep their applications patched and secure.
Want to build and design an app that’s secure by design? Heptagon can help. Get in touch with our experts today.