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Mobile App Security Insights

Securing The Mobile Workforce Starts With Secure Applications

Jun 7, 2017 2:00:00 PM / by Sung Cho

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As mobile applications have continued to grow in popularity, developing innovative ways to provide much-needed security has become more and more vital to the long-term success of any app. After all, a data leak often has disastrous effects on your business, leading to mistrust with customers and a general lack of faith in the quality of your service.

Developers simply cannot afford the price that neglecting to instill effective security measures would cost them. Hackers are a tenacious bunch, and it takes constant vigilance to ensure that your app and the sensitive user data it engages with remain out of the wrong hands.

Yet, despite the importance rightfully placed on mobile application security, many developers fail to build security into their apps, opting instead for what they can do after an app is already live. For best results, consider designing your apps with security in mind from day one. Early integration can help prevent many security risks, since the precautionary measures are already included within the design of your app. Here are a few ways you can greatly enhance the security of your application.

  • Email verification: Most apps allow users the convenience of logging in with a simple email address. From a marketing and usability standpoint, this is a smart move. However, don’t let this be just one more way for hackers to infiltrate your app. Make sure that your users are asked to confirm their email account. Otherwise, you might be rolling out the red carpet for an impostor or other malicious user. It’s not worth that risk to simply not include an email verification step from the beginning.
  • Code protection: Because malware is one of hackers’ most reliable means of attack, one of your security priorities should be fortifying your code. Malware, of course, implants damaging bits of code within the framework of your own system. So don’t wait for vulnerabilities to show up within your own code. Tampering and reverse-engineering can give hackers full control of your mobile app, negating all your hard work. So harden your code now.
  • Usability: How your users engage with your app should certainly be a guiding hand in how you tackle security. Not only does this make it easier to connect with your target demographic, but it also gives you the opportunity to do some testing with your app upfront. Gauge from a test audience or other relevant sources how the app would be useful, and incorporate this way of thinking into how you emphasize the security measures you build within. You’ll find that anticipating this will help identify potential issues long before they cause any trouble.
  • Content security policy: No strategy is complete without some framework designed to keep your policies organized and ensure that they are thorough. Developing a content security policy therefore is a must, as such a standardized, browser-based approach will more effectively eliminate the vulnerability posed by cross-site scripting. However, to do so, be sure to embed all JavaScript coding in a separate and external file. Relying on HTML is too dangerous and should not be in accordance with your content security policy.
  • Application security audit: No matter how closely you keep a watchful eye on the latest security threats, your team is bound to miss something with an objective point of view reviewing your app. That’s why you need to bring an independent audit team -- often outfitted by professionals with specific experience in application security -- in to assess whether your coding has any glaring vulnerabilities that need to be addressed. Such analysis may very well save your app from a great deal of heartache and can offer peace of mind regarding the possibility that human error could yield significant damage.
  • Data protection: Because your app is constantly transmitting data back and forth with your users’ devices, you need to ensure that this sensitive information is effectively protected. Though this may seem like an easy thing to consider, many apps actually go live without implanting the precautions needed to keep hackers off of the back-end servers. We recommend using either an SSL or a VPN tunnel to keep data secure. This is by far one of the most important elements of any mobile app security plan. Don’t overlook it.

Protect What’s Yours

If you’ve already gone live with your app, don’t worry. Many of the above steps can still be added to your arsenal after the fact. Nevertheless, we hope that our discussion has helped provide you with some guidance regarding what you should do with your next project. Too many developers fall prey to the same old mistakes when establishing a security strategy for their mobile app. Let your days of under-securing your mobile apps be officially behind you.

Mobile technology is one of the most rapidly evolving innovations of recent years. As you build out your security system (hopefully, during the development process), bear in mind that security concerns are constantly shifting. What you need to do now to safeguard against potential threats may not be sufficient a few months from now. Stay plugged into the latest trends to ensure that your mobile application security -- whether built-in or added after the fact -- is ready to keep malicious users at bay and continue performing optimally for you and your users.

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Topics: Mobile App Security

Sung Cho

Written by Sung Cho

Head of Marketing at SEWORKS Co., Ltd.