Ensuring security of mobile apps is now of vital importance to every business. Every industry on the planet is recognising the growing trend of their customers conducting transactions and reviewing products as well as services via their mobile device; with some markets predicting their mobile business to grow almost 20% by 2021.
Customers have to be the number one priority and making sure their personal data is safe whilst using your app is crucial. If your app is hacked or is infiltrated by a virus it can result in the data of your users being stolen and manipulated, as well as potentially damaging your business.
Users of apps rarely think about their own personal security when using an app and just presume that this is something the app developer will have dealt with, especially if it is an app from a well-known company. Apps and mobile devices are big targets now for malicious activity.
It is worrying that 50% of business don‘t actually allocate any kind of budget to mobile app security, given that it is so important. This definitely goes some way towards explaining why many large household names have had to deal with PR disasters in regards to having their apps targeted by hackers, such as Snapchat, Yahoo, Starbucks and Home Depot.
It is so important that businesses and app developers alike are proactive not reactive; with regards to mobile application security and there are several issues that need to be watched out for.
Insecure storage of data
As a developer, it is important to focus on designing apps in a way that means critical information, mainly in regards to user data, such as credit card information and passwords are stored securely. In order to make sure this is the case data must be stored in an encrypted data section that should be marked to ensure it can‘t be backed up.
In 2015 it was reported that hackers stole hundreds of dollars from Starbucks app users, resulting in millions of people deleting the app as well as untold negative publicity and loss of trust attributed to the brand.
Weak server-side controls
When businesses are creating their first app they will often expose systems. It is vital that the servers from where the mobile app is accessing have security measures set in place to make sure that no unauthorised users can possibly access any of the data.
Back-end servers have to be protected against possible attacks, meaning that all possible APIS need to be verified and have proper security methods, ensuring only the appropriate people have access.
There are several ways in which businesses can take steps to secure their mobile apps including:
- Securing the app’s code from the bottom and using encryption wherever possible
- Securing network connections at the back end, ensuring cloud servers are secure
- Putting identification, authentication and authorisation measure into place
- Considering how to store customer data and ensure that a sufficient mobile encryption policy is implemented
- Ensure the app is tested rigorously
- Make sure a solid API security measure is in place
As users of apps, it is also important to do all you can to protect yourself by taking measures such as not using jailbroken devices and also only downloading apps from trusted sources.