Mobile apps have become a booming industry in the past decade, and their use will only continue to grow. Mobile apps are inherently more convenient for the workforce, as they can do tasks such as check their emails, see updates on projects, and call their co-workers with the tap of a button, all from anywhere at any time.
The boom of mobile apps has led to some familiar tech problems though, in the form of hackers and malware. Since phones often contain very sensitive information, hackers are always looking for ways to gain access to people’s phones. To combat this, your business should start implementing important security practices.
6 Key Practices to Developing Secure Mobile Apps
1. Cybersecurity Training
All technical problems should always be protected at the user level. To do this, make sure that all of your employees are properly trained and informed about proper cybersecurity practices. This should not be done as a single meeting, it should be integrated into your business’ training program. User errors make up a huge percentage of all breaches, so your employees must know the dangers of a breach.
Do regular checkups of employees to see if they are following cybersecurity practices properly. Simple things such as safe passwords, never bringing any confidential information home where it’s not protected by your security software and IT team, and informing higher-ups or the IT team of any breaches immediately. Informed users are the best defence against attacks.
2. Keep Development Confidential
While working on your apps, it’s important that everybody only has access to what they are supposed to have access to. Your Android or iOS devs must also have their workflow obfuscated to prevent corporate espionage. There are tools to prevent such things from happening. In addition, ensure that all your communication lines are encrypted to prevent any security breaches.
The danger of your development process going public is simple. It would be the equivalent of building a fortress, then leaving the blueprints on the front door for anybody to see. Keeping your development cycle confidential and confusing is key to ensuring mobile app security. The most surefire way to prevent leaks is having all your developers sign an NDA.
3. Require Strong Authentication
You have the usual “strong password” practices which are composed of:
At least 15 to 30 characters in length
Uses numerals, symbols, uppercase and lowercase letters
Regularly changed every three to six months (every month for high-risk targets)
But you should also use Two-Factor Authentication (TFA). TFA is basically like having two locks on your app’s door. Whether it’s for the user or the developer, TFA should be the standard as it essentially doubles your password security. For even more extra security, biometric authentication such as fingerprint and retinal scans can be used.
4. Secure Your Code
The code itself should also be difficult to comprehend for hackers, as it will either stop them in their tracks or slow them down enough for your IT team to notice the breach. Obfuscate your code with techniques such as:
Third-Party Protection Tools
Your code is the very essence of your application, so making it hard to break as possible is essential to a safe and secure mobile app.
5. Be Careful with Third-Party Assets
When using third-party tools and libraries, ensure that you’re only using the most trustworthy and reputable ones. The best way to find a good third-party tool would be to ask for recommendations from your IT team or even a business partner. In addition to their input, also check for unbiased reviews of the software or code being used to see if it’s truly safe.
Relying on third-party tools is difficult because it means your developers will never have full control over the asset, especially if it is not an open-source tool. Vulnerabilities might not be spotted for years despite regular use from several developers. When using third-party tools, ensure that the provider is willing to be liable and assist in the event of a vulnerability being discovered.
6. Regular Risk Assessments
It’s important to have good compliance risk management at all stages of development. Prevention is the best cure, and risk assessment is exactly that. Make use of white hat hackers and your QA team to find as many vulnerabilities as possible before release. While there’s likely no way you can catch them all, this minimizes future risks, especially if you intend on regular updates.
Familiarize yourself with the compliance laws in your area, as your location could dictate what security measures you have to have in place. For example, if you are doing regular business in Canada, regulations such as the Privacy Act and Access to Information Act ensure the privacy of user data, and such is a requirement for any business activity in Canada.
There are a lot of cybersecurity practices that can’t be covered by this one article, but these will cover your bases. Make sure to adjust as needed for the scale and location of your business.
Originally written by:
Regi Publico is a full-time writer based in Manila who is also an artist for fun. She takes pride in her towering collection of books and loves reading about anything under the sun. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge through every article that she writes.