The COVID-19 pandemic has brought an increased amount of attention to the subject of cyber security in general and mobile apps specifically. Forced to remain at home and in search of profitable opportunities, enterprising cyber criminals have honed their skills to exploit weaknesses and security flaws in mobile app platforms — and not just those related to health care or COVID-19. Interpol has reported an “alarming” increase in the number of cyber crimes that have occurred since the start of the pandemic.
Cyber criminals have even started injecting spyware into seemingly legitimate mobile apps, leading to the so-called PhoneSpy Spywear crime wave. Hackers and other cyber criminals have gotten creative to be certain.
To say that mobile app security should be a key consideration is a vast understatement. But what are the most common risks to mobile app security and how can you be certain that your app is secure? Consider the following and set off down the path toward a more secure mobile app.
Mobile App Security Risks of Authentication and Authorization
A cybercriminal can do a lot of damage if they have the ability to bypass logins, whether it’s as a user or as an administrator. Authentication has and will always present a security threat to your mobile app platform, so it’s an area that should receive special attention with features such as:
- Sophisticated encryption;
- Limited login attempts;
- Multi-factor authentication;
- Biometric authentication;
- Token-based authentication;
- Certificate-based authentication; and
Generally, it’s wise to use multiple forms of authentication and authorization. This forces a would-be hacker to pass through several layers of protection, making a breach more difficult to achieve and easier to detect.
Poor Server-Side Controls and Mobile Security
Server-related vulnerabilities were among the most significant threats to mobile app security circa 2012, when OWASP Mobile Top 10 ranked server-side controls as the number two mobile app security threat.
While server security has improved dramatically since then, it’s still an area that should be addressed during the mobile app development process. A 2021 study revealed that approximately 35 percent of server components had “extremely dangerous” vulnerabilities. These included:
- Code vulnerabilities;
- Configuration errors; and
- Flaw in the implementation of various protection mechanisms.
A majority of the risks surrounding API and server-side mobile app security risks are rooted in proper development, implementation and configuration practices. This means that a large segment of these potential security threats can be remedied with expertise and best practices. That underscores the importance of trusting your mobile app development project to an experienced team, such as the one here at 7T.
The Mobile App Security Risks in Failing to Update
Mobile operating systems are continually updated and improved in response to the ever-changing security threats that exist. These changes can range from very minor to significant — even to a degree that renders a mobile app inoperable.
It is essential that your mobile app is updated regularly and promptly following the release of a new operating system version. This will ensure a positive user experience and it will minimize any security threats to your users and to the app itself.
Data Transfer and Storage Security Threats
A company’s data is among its most valuable assets, but despite this, many businesses fail to secure their data. This is even more pronounced for data that’s connected to a mobile app platform because the app creates a channel through which a cyber criminal can access those data stores.
Depending who you ask, anywhere from 75 to 85 percent of mobile apps fall short in the realm of data transmission and storage security. Encryption is really the key to mitigating this risk.
Data is in a vulnerable position when it is being transmitted, so end-to-end encryption can be used to protect the information as it travels between the server and the mobile app that’s running on a user’s device.
The other area of vulnerability surrounds data storage. Many of today’s cloud-based data storage solutions tend to be extremely secure, with sophisticated encryption technology in place. But these protections are not always the default. Therefore, it’s important to verify that the most powerful encryption and security measures are implemented on your mobile app’s data storage platform.
Data leakage is yet another consideration. A mobile app may be developed in a way that unintentionally leaks data that could be useful to a cybercriminal. This underscores the importance of working with an experienced development team that is aware of this risk and will take active measures to avoid data leakage.
Other Mobile App Security Tips
There are lots of additional ways to improve mobile app security and maintain the trust of your users. Consider these security tips.
Implement Hack Detection Features – A fairly simple hack detection algorithm can go a long way toward staving off hacking attempts by identifying attempts and issuing a notification so an administrator can take immediate action.
Beware of Open Source Tools and Services – Open source technology has brought some wonderful things to the world. But the very nature of open source technology means its accessible to anyone, which brings a slightly greater risk since it’s easier to engineer a hack when you have all of the keys to the kingdom. For this reason, it’s wise to use caution when using an open source service or solution as part of a mobile app development project.
Use API Keys Properly – API keys play an important role in mobile app security since they authenticate user connections. Therefore, the API keys need to be stored securely, in a non-public manner so as to protect the integrity of the connection. It sounds perfectly logical and straightforward, but it’s not a given because a surprising number of developers inexplicably store their API keys publicly.
Innovative Dallas Mobile App Development Services
Much of a mobile app’s security is rooted in its development, underscoring the importance of working with an experienced, security-conscious mobile development firm. At 7T, our development team works with company leaders who are seeking to solve problems and drive ROI through digital transformation. Much of this innovation involves mobile apps, often used as a companion to desktop software platforms.
As an innovative Dallas software and mobile app development company, as 7T integrates cutting-edge solutions into virtually every project. We’re here to deliver collaborative, multi-phased software development services to clients in all business sectors.
7T maintains offices in Dallas, Houston, Chicago, and Austin, but our clientele spans the globe. If you’re ready to learn more about an enterprise messaging mobile app or a SayHey Messenger integration for your enterprise platform, contact 7T today.