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Mobile App Security Insights

6 Simple Steps to Make Yourself Hack-Proof

Feb 10, 2017 7:37:19 AM / by Sung Cho

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Clichés exist for a reason. Nowhere is this more true than in the admonition that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Sure, you could do damage control after a hack. But why would you want to? With criminals across the globe doggedly attempting to hack everything from free apps to government bodies, a hack is a near inevitability if you don’t take aggressive security precautions. You can hack-proof your business, thereby avoiding the miseries of a hacking scandal. Here’s what you need to know for a blissfully hack-proof existence.

Hacking: What You Stand to Lose

A single hack can be a reputation destroyer. If it’s bad enough, your name may become synonymous with bad security and costly hacks. So while it may save you a little time now to ignore security holes, it will could ultimately cost you dearly. Save yourself from the misery of a hack.

In one particularly costly settlement, Target had to pay its hacking victims $10 million. Imagine how much more money the retail giant could have saved if they had just practiced better security. Do you have that kind of cash? Probably not. So even if a few extra hours and dollars devoted to sharpening security seems like too much, consider the cost of not investing in good security.

The Business Benefits of a Hack-Proof Existence

Forget about the downsides of hacking. Did you know that a more secure app can actually be a major marketing tool? In a market saturated with apps, consumers are on to the next option as soon as there’s a problem with the latest, greatest app. Make your app more appealing by cornering the market on secure offerings in your niche.

Security-conscious consumers, who comprise an increasingly large share of the market, will flock to your app. And when presented with your app as opposed to a less secure option, almost every consumer will choose your app. Becoming hack-proof is a simple, ethical way to become more competitive.

Make Yourself Hack-proof in Six Simple Steps

Ready to become hack-proof? It’s not as difficult as you might think. These six strategies can put you on the path to app security in no time at all.

1. Master Password Management

Secure passwords -- and clever password management -- are vital to the protection of your customers’ data. Force customers to select secure passwords using a combination of numbers, letters, and capital letters. You might even prompt them to change their password every 30 days or so. Even more important, require them to enter their password each time they use the app, and log them out automatically after 10 or so minutes of inactivity.

This takes a bit more time, and not all customers will love it. Educate them about why it’s important when they first register, and consider allowing them to opt out -- but only with a warning about why doing so compromises their security.

For even more secure access, consider two-factor authentication. This is ideal for banking, finance, and health apps which house highly sensitive data.

2. Regularly Update Your Software

The hacking landscape is constantly changing. So too should your software. Regularly patch security holes with relevant software updates. Don’t leave installation to chance, either. Consumers sometimes need a push to install security updates, so force an install before they use the app, or offer a cool new feature in return for installing an update.

3. Protect Against Behavioral Engineering

Not all hacking involves endless lines of code and an intimate knowledge of app software. Some hackers simply charm consumers into giving away their passwords and other sensitive data. Two timeless strategies can reduce your customers’ vulnerability to behavioral engineering:

  1. Educate customers. Make sure they know you’ll never contact them asking for a password or for other sensitive data. You may even want to put this information into the signature line of every email.
  2. Use only the customer data you absolutely need. Don’t require credit card information on a free app, or a birth date where a birth year will suffice. The more data customers enter into your app, the more opportunities there are for hackers to misuse that information.

4. Train Your Developers

An app development company is only as strong as its weakest developer. Don’t count on developers to magically intuit the finer details of app security. Instead, train each new developer on security issues, and conduct regular training sessions to disseminate updates and other relevant details. Developers are supposed to write excellent code. They may not know how to ensure what they've written is secure.

5. Be Careful With Recycled Code

Hackers aren’t stupid. They’ll gleefully plant malicious code on developer forums, or in open source manuals. So be careful with code lifted from these sites. It may contain subtle issues you don’t notice until it’s too late. Consider also the risks of outsourcing development. Hackers will happily accept payment to develop a product, only to implant malicious code in the product. Some developers are simply not skilled enough to even know they have used malicious code, so hire only developers who are obsessed with security, and always double check their work.

6. Know That Encryption May Be Your Best Friend

Hackers can access data as it travels from device to device, in addition to hacking directly into servers. Encryption is one of the most important all-purpose tools for preventing common hacks. Use updated encryption whenever and wherever possible.

The world of hacking is fast-paced and ever changing. As quickly as security experts develop a new technique to protect users, criminals find a way around it. If you can’t keep up with the changing landscape of app security on your own, then you're already well on the way to a costly hack.

Seventy-five percent of mobile apps will fail even a basic security test. Ninety-five percent of the top 200 free apps on Google Play can be reverse engineered. Don’t be one of them. AppSolid takes care of security for you. We offer the most secure binary protection in the industry, protecting apps of every variety, and app development companies of every size.

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Topics: Mobile App Hacking, Hacking Threats

Sung Cho

Written by Sung Cho

Manager-Marketing & Public Relations at SEWORKS Co., Ltd.