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Mobile App Security Insights

5 Secrets to Source Code Protection You Need To Know

Aug 4, 2017 9:00:00 AM / by Sung Cho

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It’s the most important ingredient in your app’s infrastructure, and yet, many developers fail to effectively keep it safe. Source code is, of course, the fundamental bit of coding that is intended to be accessed at the programming level before being converted into the machine code that sets up your app’s functionality. Although many easy-to-implement methods exist to institute at least a modicum of protection for your source code, it remains largely a mystery in the eyes of some.

That ends now. Source code protection is too important for developers to sit idly by and assume that the steps they’ve taken to safeguard their source code will be enough. Instead, let’s demystify the nature of source code protection by unraveling some truths behind its function, its significance and the opportunities you have to bolster its role in your app’s security. Only then will you be better equipped to fully take advantage of what source code protection can do.

Source code protection is not as complicated as you may think.

The idea of protecting your source code might seem like a difficult and even intimidating task. After all, your source code is an invaluable part of your app. But thankfully, protecting it can start with simple actions like data encryption, access restrictions and a renewed focus on redundancy. With even these straightforward methods in place, you’re that much closer to reaching a new level of safety and security for your app. In fact, in many cases, these easy steps may collectively prove more effective than more elaborate safeguards for your source code.

Protecting your source code is the most important element of your app’s security.

Truth be told, this one really shouldn’t be too surprising. Since the source code is the base for your app, its components -- such as programmed code, scripts and APIs -- are considered among its most essential parts. So protecting them should always remain a consistent priority, no matter what.

Any updates or changes are reflected here, making your source code a prime target for hackers looking to take control of your app or to exploit its infrastructure or customer base for their own ends. Don’t give them the chance to commandeer your app.

Your source code is far more vulnerable than your realize.

One might imagine that, since the source code is such a vital part of your app, it would be accompanied by built-in safeguards to keep its contents away from prying eyes and malicious hands. Yet, unlike web applications, the coding for native mobile apps often resides within the client that provides the user interface and local business logic.

The source code can technically be accessible on a smartphone, although it's not commonly practiced as hackers usually use computers to access source code. Source code can be viewable to anyone who has a decompiler -- which is very easy to use and accessible.

Tools are available to scan and monitor your source code.

In addition to the simple steps we mentioned earlier to protect your source code, you can use any number of scanning and monitoring tools to keep a close eye on your source code. Why leave your app open to attack from malware if you can prevent dangerous efforts from ever making contact with your app in the first place?

Action is the enemy of hackers, who prey on developers’ complacency with their coding to provide them with the ideal opportunity to strike. Take advantage of the ample resources at your disposal.

Watch out for license and copyright issues.

Copyrighting your app may be one easy way to protect your source code, but copyright and licensing problems can often result in problems, especially if developers use open-source code that cannot be registered with the appropriate copyright office.

Before you assume your own ownership of your code, be mindful of how copyrights and licenses can affect your standing with your app store. Understand your license agreement upfront, and don’t necessarily count on your copyright to save you from the wrath of hackers.

In this case, a simple mistake could jeopardize everything.

Where It All Begins

We’ve already mentioned about how integral your source code is to the whole of your app. After all, it largely serves as the foundation upon which the rest of your coding is built. As such, its protection should go without saying, and we hope that the points we’ve raised above have helped solidify that notion and pointed you in the right direction toward a more secure future for your app.

The importance of source code protection -- while certainly key to a comprehensive approach to mobile app security -- really underscores the need to take a more preemptive, proactive course toward keeping your app safe from hackers. Certainly, the most secure apps are the ones that are designed with security measures early in their development.

Though it may be too late to apply this method to your current app, be sure to thoroughly secure your app and, of course, your source code to set the tone for your mobile app security.

The-Developers-Guide-To-Mobile-App-Security

Topics: Source Code

Sung Cho

Written by Sung Cho

Head of Marketing at SEWORKS Co., Ltd.