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Mobile App Security Insights

What is App Wrapping?

Oct 5, 2017 11:00:00 AM / by AppSolid Team

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The mobile app economy is growing rapidly. The convenience of using apps has made it so everyone is trying to come up with the best new functional app for society. Yet, many developers are being faced with the awakening of what an insecure app can cost them.Some app developers simply choose to ignore the issue of mobile app security, but they quickly regret it.

  • 33% of organizations secure the mobile applications they develop and the others simply aren’t protecting the customers they’re developing for.
  • 95% of mobile applications are vulnerable.

Because of this, of course, solutions are being created. Not only can developers assist their clients by encrypting their sensitive data, they can also wrap (or shield) the app in order to provide extra security from the get go. With companies asking their employees to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and use apps for their business on the regular, such measures as these are extremely important.

Read more to learn about the secure development of mobile apps and the protection that app wrapping can provide.

To BYOD or Not To BYOD

To better understand why taking such measures as app wrapping are important, let’s address the insecurities that exist for a company and its employees that are using mobile apps. It is becoming so common for businesses to have their employee’s bring their own devices to work that they are actually exposing themselves to more threats.

Doing so can threaten IT security and put a company’s sensitive data at risk. Sure, it does provide a major convenience, but it also opens up an entire can of worms in terms of all of the data employees are accessing on their devices and how accessible this is making personal data that can be extremely damaging to hackers.

This forces app developers to ask themselves:

  • What data must employees have access to?
  • What security measures are in place if an employee’s device is lost, stolen, or compensated?

This is where the necessity of pre-securing the app and it’s detail comes into play.

App Wrapping

paper-tear-showing-apps.jpgApp wrapping is the process of implementing a security policy to a mobile application (which could be an email or custom built business app) without changing the way it functions or how it appears. Once this technology is set up, administrators are able to set policies so that employees with corporate-owned or personal mobile devices can safely download an app.

App wrapping is usually done by use of:

  • an SDK for an app
  • an EMM vendor that makes it so a developer can deploy an API that enables management policies to be set up

For instance, an app wrapping API would make it so an administrator could facilitate who can download a mobile app and if sensitive data retrievable by this app can be copied, pasted, and used. When wrapping an app, certain policies should be set in place.

Examples of these policies are:

  • Security Policies: These policies will create self-defending apps so that they are able to protect themselves no matter what device they are running on. Security policies include FIDS 140-2 encryption, copy/paste protection, corporate authentication, jailbreak detection, data wipe, app integrity and runtime integrity check.
  • Management Policies: These policies help developers protect users and keep the apps updated with their many numbers of users. Depending on the role of each user, the app can be made visible in different capacities and administrators can disable the app at any time.
  • Analytic Policies: These policies give insight on how the app is being used, for what, why, and by whom.

How App Wrapping Works

App Wrapping will make no modifications to the function or appearance of the app. The point of wrapping an app is to limit and/or control the actions one might take to create a security breach. This tool can serve many purposes or functions.

Furthermore, app wrapping will:

  • save the client’s money
  • only require a few minor tweaks to adhere to the client’s needs
  • provide pre-existing software and provide additional needed elements for the user
  • allow the option to pick and choose which elements that the user can use or control
  • allow the limitation of capabilities a device has, such as the camera or microphone accessibility

With app wrapping, the app developer is in complete control of the app. It resolves many of the failings that come with enterprise mobility. It gives a solution for how to protect data while delivering the user an experience relatable to consumer devices.

When using techniques like app wrapping, enterprise mobility and BYOB are able to function the way that they are supposed to, as indispensable platforms for productivity. Such a tool is one of the best options out there for mobile application management and development when it comes to the protection needed by users.

How To Wrap An App

In order to wrap an app, you have to apply a management layer to it. In order to do so, there are different softwares that can assist, depending on the type of app you’re working with. An example of the steps you will go through in order to wrap is:

  • Reviewing the app wrapping prerequisites
  • reviewing compatibility
  • installing the tool or software
  • backing up the version of your app
  • uploading the app and applying the policies
  • fixing the errors and retesting
  • making sure the app works on all devices

App Wrapping Vs Containerizing

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There is more than one way to secure an enterprise’s mobile app - the most popular options today are using a container or using app wrapping. These two methods are very different and should not be confused with one another. Containerizing enterprise apps and data means that the business’s apps and it’s data lives in separate encrypted zones on the user’s mobile device.

With containerization, the vendor’s software development kit will have to be used and a number of versions of code will have to be maintained. Containerization gives the brief feeling of security, yet it is not comparable to wrapping because:

  • it is not easy to extend containers to 3rd party app users
  • the number of app’s that a company’s employees can use will be limited
  • there are only one set of policies possible for a container, so if it is breached, all of the company’s apps will be at risk

Mobile App Management Software

In order to secure an app fully, companies are investing in mobile application management software. To qualify as an apt MAM product, the software must:

  • be compatible with all commonly used mobile devices and support necessary operating systems
  • function with multiple providers
  • be customizable to company policy and requirements
  • be integratable with existing, administrative and app systems
  • enable configuration, locking, wiping, detection, encryption, and wrapping
  • report on device activity

What To Consider

Securing mobile data and devices is an ongoing process. Mobile security policies always should be continuously updated to meet the new technology and BYOD practices.

Developers should always be keeping in mind:

  • the different security protocols that are necessary
  • the responsibility they have taken on as the developer to the companies that will be using the app
  • device specific security needs and requirements

The requirements for each app’s security will be ever evolving as technology become a more integral part of business life. Set up your product so that it is secure and customizable. Tackling foreseeable issues now and finding the right content control solutions is the best way to avoid any problems now and heading into the future.

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Topics: App Wrapping

Written by AppSolid Team