8 Mobile app security best practices you must follow

How safe are your mobile apps?

This is one question you should be asking more often to yourself.

Software developers often fail to create apps that protect business and user data, as illustrated by recent statistics. A study, for example, found that one-half of all organizations fail to include security for mobile apps in their budgets. Consequently, more than half of businesses expect that hackers will compromise their mobile apps within half a year. Meanwhile, approximately 80-percent of consumers using mobile healthcare apps say they would change providers if they knew that their mobile apps were insecure.

If you think that mobile apps are getting safer over time, industry data suggests that you are wrong. Trend Micro reports that increased malware production in China means that the world will soon face more than 20 million identifiable threats to mobile apps. Meanwhile, ransomware has now become a major threat to Android-powered devices and hackers are increasingly targeting Apple devices, though many believe them to be safer.

Mobile device users spend more than half their time using mobile apps, suggesting that the prevalence of workplace bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies will make businesses more vulnerable than ever to mobile app security risks. Companies have lost control over many endpoints that access their networks, making the consideration of security in mobile applications an important part of every project.

What is mobile app security?

Mobile app security describes the tactics and technologies used to prevent malicious users from exploiting weaknesses in devices and applications.

Developers should integrate security into their software at every level, rather than either ignoring it or including it as an afterthought at the end of a project.


Ways to ensure your mobile app is secure

If you are set for your next project, ensure that you implement the following 8 mobile app security best practices during the mobile app development process to ensure hackers don’t compromise with your business and end user data:

1. Write secure code

Developers can build mobile app security essentials into every project at the code level. For example; simple tactics can prevent the injection of scripts though your apps’ data entry forms and can substantially strengthen your apps. Use methods such as content controls to limit copy-and-paste actions, and using “open in” restrictions to prevent your apps from opening dangerous content. Such options can significantly harden your apps against most common security attacks. Some of the tactics listed below such as enhanced authentication, data encryption and jailbreak protection can also help your apps resist attack.

2. Test your code

Implement mobile app security essentials right from the beginning every project e.g. start a project with a security review. Simple tactics such as integrating your software developers and testers in the same business unit can speed bug identification and improve communication. Always test your code in the real world by verifying the download and installation processes used by your app. Penetration testing, network security testing and data security testing can be some of the testing techniques you can adopt.

3. Improve user authentication

Creating mobile app security standards for your organization should require the use of strong passwords via secure authentication methods for your apps. You should also consider requiring the use of two-factor authentication (2FA) that requires more than one authentication channel. Third-party tools such as Authy can simplify the implementation of 2FA. Although it adds to the cost of app development but that investment is worth it.

4. Secure data storage

The mobile app security essentials used in your organization should include secure data storage. You should design your apps to use secure online storage and encrypt data stored on devices to minimize the danger associated with lost and stolen devices. Adding remote device wiping capabilities to your mobile apps give your company another way to secure sensitive data.


5. Secure payment gateways

One of the most important steps to protect mobile apps from attacks requires you to implement risk-aware transactions. For example, you can add code that measures data access parameters such as user location and IP velocity to prioritize the security of payments and database transactions managed by your apps. You can also build your apps to encrypt data at rest using tools such as FIPS 140-2. You add additional transaction security by embedding app-level VPN support into your software.

6. Implement jailbreak protection

Jailbreaking a phone lets users bypass operating system safeguards to install unapproved software. As a result, jailbroken phones pose a higher threat to business and enterprise BYOD environments. Jailbreak protection scans host devices and blocks your app from running on compromised units.

7. Secure server communication

Use secure server connections to prevent hackers from intercepting data streams between your mobile apps and your servers. Implementing VPN connectivity at the application level, for example, can substantially improve the security of data transmissions, especially when users connect to an unsecured public wireless access point.

8. Regular updates

As you learn how to protect mobile apps, push regular software updates to your users to improve the security of your app and your business data. Your mobile app security best practices should include a procedure to fix bugs as they are discovered. Doing so will increase security by limiting the time hackers have available to exploit known security issues.

Now that you know how to secure mobile apps, put your knowledge to use for your business. Schedule regular reviews of your mobile app security best practices to create and maintain a security-aware culture that will help your company enjoy the benefits of a mobile solution.