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Mobile App Security Insights

Security Challenges in a Mobile Fueled World

Jun 29, 2017 5:44:38 PM / by Sung Cho

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Chances are, you’d have a hard time coming up with a popular business or website that hasn’t carefully cultivated a mobile presence. Even if they don’t have their own mobile app (a percentage that is rising significantly with each passing year), they almost certainly have a mobile-optimized version of their site to offer customers. The internet, after all, has greatly changed how we consume information, and in keeping with the fast pace and short attention span of modern consumers, businesses have arisen to meet those needs with a streamlined version of their sites customized for a smoother, more efficient customer experience.

Yet, just as mobile has steadily taken over the marketplace, hackers have continued to develop more innovative ways to attack the coding infrastructure and the protected customer data businesses aim to keep secure. Thankfully, such mobile security challenges can largely be evaded with the right security applications in place. However, regardless of what measures you use to keep customers safe while using your app, it’s imperative to be aware of some of the key vulnerabilities that could be contributing to your overall mobile security. Here’s a few of the most prominent ones.

  • Storage issues: When you don’t have enough storage space for your data, the security of your entire infrastructure can often be compromised. So it’s important to invest in enough data storage to fulfill your needs. Since this can lead to mounting expenses, one smart way to curtail this is to avoid storing any data unless it is required for your app’s operation. Even encrypted data (more on that in a moment) can fall prey to an attack. So the best way to keep sensitive information safe to not to store it within your app or on the mobile device itself in the first place, especially when it comes to login credentials.
  • Unencrypted data: Of course, encryption is one of the fundamental elements of a secure mobile app, but some developers fail to take even this precaution into account when designing their security protocol. In addition, the steps that once may have been enough to protect your app against attack are likely now obsolete. For instance, HTTP has since been replaced by its far more sophisticated brother, HTTPS. In today’s day and age, you have so many tools at your disposal that there is no excuse for why your app and its data transmissions shouldn’t be tightly encrypted.
  • Malware threats: What makes malware such a dangerous tactic is both its prevalence among hackers and also the level of deception it uses to gain access. Normally, malware tricks consumers into downloading it by posing as a security alert, game or some other enticing prospect. Encryption is, of course, the first line of defense, but it certainly doesn’t guarantee protection. Instead, design your security with malware in mind -- especially since hackers may be targeting your app so that they can transform it into malware itself -- and educate your customers about how to stave off hackers.
  • Outdated software: In order for your security to stand a chance against current threats, the software you use must naturally reflect the latest updates. To use outdated software on your app is essentially to leave your entire operation vulnerable to attack. Your customers should be required to install updates to your app when necessary, and you should do whatever measures you need to -- including disabling features -- to compel them to ensure that their mobile device reflects the latest version of your app. After all, it’s definitely better than facing whatever consequences will occur after an attack.
  • Loose access restrictions: Unauthorized access is ultimately the goal that hackers are aiming for whenever they attempt to break into your app, and if you already have weak restrictions in place for who gains access, you’re making it that much easier for an attack to take place. Nowadays, it’s frighteningly simple to gain access to user data. Consider using separate user accounts, two-factor authentication and other tools to keep hackers out of your app. You may also want to allow users the ability to remotely wipe data.
  • Vulnerable source code: We’ve already talked about how critical encryption is in establishing a firm security system for your app. Well, your source code is at the root of your entire operation. So you can imagine that source code protection is paramount to preventing hackers from twisting your code to serve their own ends. If they were to gain access, it could mean irreparable damage to your business, your reputation and your standing within the industry. Hackers who crack your source code are liable to exploit its weaknesses to make changes or even to hijack your app entirely. Beware.

Rise to the Challenge

The above issues may be among the most common and troublesome affecting the mobile space, but they are by no means the only culprits. As is the nature of technology, mobile application security changes and evolves in ways that few can truly foresee, and you must be ready to act whenever any suspicious activity does occur. For this very reason, it’s imperative that you remain constantly updated on the latest trends within the industry.

One of the best ways to do just that is to keep a close eye on the top security standards for mobile apps. These resources will alert you to the latest vulnerabilities out there and equip you with the knowledge you need to adjust your operation accordingly to safeguard your code and your data from those who wish to gain unauthorized access to both. Although security is bound to be an ongoing headache, your mobile app and its customers are certainly worth the extra challenge of defending it against the hacker community. Be sure to take the necessary steps to ensure their safety.

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

Topics: Mobile App Security, Security Threats

Sung Cho

Written by Sung Cho

Head of Marketing at SEWORKS Co., Ltd.