Ten Security Safety Tips for App Developers
In the recent past, mobile internet took over the fixed internet usage. This move was considered to be a massive landmark in the world’s digital history. According to the most recent statistics, 75.1% of the population that owns mobile phones in North America access their internet via their mobile phones. However, this figure to increase to 85.6% as of last year. Besides, the mobile application app market is expected to grow to USD 189 billion by 2021.
There are lot thinking and planning that is required when developing a mobile application. However, this task is not as sophisticated as integrating security into your newly built app. Mobile application security is essential in this world where hacking and data leaks, as well as cybercrime, is the order of the day.
The usage of mobile app increases every single day across the world so is its vulnerabilities. Without proper app security in place, the personal data that found within some mobile apps can be used by hackers for malicious intentions. Therefore, app developers should be extra careful when building these apps.
Despite the looming cases of hacking and cybercrime, still, some app developers do not take app security seriously. A report released most recently show that 33% of organizations and 40% of enterprises that use or develop mobile apps do not test them. Nonetheless, more than 11.6 million devices are at risk of being hacked (latest Ponemon study on the State of Mobile Application Insecurity). In spite of all the hard tasks that come with app security, following these ten security safety tips for app developers will see to it that your app hits the ground securely.
Write a secure code
Developing a mobile app requires the use of coded information. However, such codes are the most vulnerable features of a mobile application which is usually targeted by hackers. Therefore, it is critical to writing secure and robust codes that are free from backdoors to protect your app from hackers with malicious intentions. The most current report indicates that more than 11.6 million devices get affected by suspicious codes.
If your code is not secure enough, hackers can easily reverse engineer it and use it to their advantage. It is essential that you come up with a very secure code as an app developer and follow agile development to be in a better position to update your app from time to time. Alternatively, you can carry out code hardening and signing to develop the best quality of codes. App developers must be up to par with the mobile app security standards and implement them while ensuring that their apps not only utilize but also transmit and store minimum data. App security must be high at all times from designing the app to development as well as testing and deployment.
Data encryption is the best way amongst the ten security safety tips for app developers to protect your app from hackers. Encryption is the process of converting your data in such a way that nobody else can be able to decipher and read it without having the decryption key. It protects data from being used maliciously. Having encryption in place ensure that hackers cannot use any data even if they manage to steal it. As an app developer, try creating an app with encrypted data in it. It is the best practice to protect your app.
Be cautious while using Libraries
Mobile app developers usually integrate and use third-party libraries in the process of app design and development. Mostly, they use the codes found in these third-party libraries. Unfortunately, these codes are usually not safe to use for threats might lurk in them. Therefore, it is critical for an app developer to test the security of all the codes outsourced from third-party libraries before incorporating them with their app codes. A slight flaw in these library codes can be the start of a devastating experience for attackers can use it to crash the whole system. Do not trust any third-party library for your project.
Use authorized API
The use of authorized API is also critical security tip, and that’s why it features in the ten security safety tips for app developers. APIs are essential when it comes to app design and development since they are a part of the backend programming. However, an API can also be disastrous since they always need to face the outside world. The use of unauthorized API is known to give hackers the opportunity to steal and use your information. For example, hackers can take advantage of the authorization information caches to get access to your system. It is critical to use an authorized API always in your app code lest you want to compromise your app’s security.
Use of high-level authentication
As an app developer, you can talk about app security without talking about authentication. Authentication is a critical part of mobile application security. The use of passwords forms the most common mechanism of authentication. Therefore, the password you use should be strong enough to the point that no one cracks it. It is advisable that you use the multi-factor authentication that uses either one time pin (OTP) of login or sending an authentication code on email. If you do not embrace the use of authentication or use a weak authentication, then you are giving hackers a free pass to your app.
Implement tamper protection
Implementing the tamper protection is another critical security tip that app developers must keep in mind. This method will enable you to get an alert when your app code is either being modified or changed. Essentially, implementing tamper protection means that you put a log of code changes of your app so that an attacker does not put his malware into your application.
Tamper protection is a must-have for Android apps for they get decompiled easily. Many users have been victims of the presence of many copycat apps on Google Play. And as an app developer, you wouldn’t want a hacker or a malicious person to copy your app at all.
There are so many ways to tamper-protect your Android app. Therefore, it is essential to implement at least one of to protect not only our users but also your reputation as a trustworthy app developer. Some of the tamper-protection mechanisms include verifying the signature of the app at runtime and identifying the app installer as well as performing environment checks among others.
Provide least privileges
As an app developer, you should not trust and give privileges to everyone to access your project. Only provide access to the code to those individuals that are to receive them, and deny access to the rest. The provision of least privileges which can also be referred to as zero-trust security is one of the most growing security tips that app developers must use to protect their apps. The zero-trust security is gaining popularity among app developers because it assumes that no one and nothing is safe and secure on the network. For this reason, only grant access when it is indispensable.
Nonetheless, you should also design your app with the zero-trust security. If the app does not need access to either the camera or your contacts, do not program it or ask for it. An addition of connections to your app is an increase in the risk of attack by hackers. When building your app, keep in mind that the best-fortified castles only have a single entrance and eliminate all the exits and passageways from your app to reduce the risk of attack to none.
Also, mobile app developers can make their devices more secure by putting in place security measures at the application layer. Having such security measures will allow the user to select their level of security depending on their preferences. Such security will help the owners to keep their devices from malicious applications thus minimize the risk of attack from attackers with malicious intentions.
One of the ten security safety tips for app developers is to test the app thoroughly. A vigorous testing exercise must be done on the app since the application goes through a lot of hands as well as a different version throughout the development process and post-production. Nonetheless, you should do app testing at every stage of development-it should be made a priority. Besides, when developing your app, ensure that it follows all the security guidelines put in place by the credit card industry and GPS as well as the device manufacturers. The primary reason for carrying out app testing is to ensure that your app updated regularly.
App testing is a simple solution to app security yet very critical. You are to opt for both penetration testing and emulators to get to know the vulnerabilities in your app. Having this in mind will help you minimize the risks. More so, try using the security patches in your app with the most recent updates and released security versions.
The report released last year by TechRepublic indicated that 60% of mobile application developers do not trust the security of their codes yet they do not take any step to remedy this problem. And this problem, as cited by NodeSoure and Sqreen is somewhat due to testing, and many of the app developers are not doing it.
Quality assurance is a critical part when it comes to building secure code. Security is a general yet a complicated concept, it should not be handled at the end of the app development process. As an app developer, you have to review the code occasionally and identify every single security flaw that threatens the whole development process and fix it before making the app available for use. However, the report also indicated that app developer’s biggest concern is not lack of testing but third-party dependencies.
The use of good cryptography tools and techniques
The use of cryptographic tools and techniques has also proven to be a sufficient way of ensuring app security for app developers. Key management is a critical point when it comes to encrypting your data. Therefore, ensure that you do not hardcore your encryption keys. However, concerning the recent security standards, the commonly used cryptographic protocols and algorithms such as MD5 are not enough to offer sufficient security. Therefore, it is advisable to use the 256-bit AES encryption that is combined with SHA-256 for hashing since they are state-of-the-art encryption APIs. Also, you should consider using threat modeling and penetration testing.
Implement proper session management
Session management is another way of making your app secure from hackers. Mobile apps need extra precaution because they usually have more extended sessions when compared to desktop versions. As such, session management should be carried out to maintain security in the rare cases that the holding device is stolen or lost. Managing such sessions should be done with the use of tokens rather than identifiers.
When you are building your app, make provisions to wipe off and log off remotely to protect the data in the stolen device. Tokens are the best when it comes to handling user logins in the current apps. Tokens are preferred to identifiers because they can easily be revoked to ensure security and they are user-friendly. Some of the tokens include OAuth2, JSON Web Tokens, and OpenID Connect. They are excellent methods for securing and simplifying, user logins.
The ten security safety tips for app developers discussed above are some of the best initiatives that mobile app developers must keep in mind and follow to have not only a secure but also an impossible-to-crack mobile application. In recent years, cybersecurity has threatened many, and it has proved its importance and most people want applications that are very secure.
In future, app developers will be using the security measures they have put in place for completion and clients will be going for those mobile applications with up to date security measures since they will be sure that their information is safe.