A mobile app provides immense potential for development, efficiency, improved revenue and more benefits to the enterprises. But, the application must be executed correctly to attain the desired output; otherwise, wrong execution would waste all the efforts. All kinds of the application development should consider security as their top priority and citizen developers are concerned more about these securities while building an app. Some of the developers have an inadequate understanding of the procedure to protect the users’ information.
This security issue could have a severe impact on ones’ commercial and personal life. If the confidential data of any business leaked out, then there would be a heavy loss in their finance. Until now, the effects of these security flaws are not understood by the people. Even though, if an app has a security fault, the users are not willing to uninstall the app.
Users are not aware of the security is the major problem and the user should know about the privacy and security policies of the apps they have been used already. The user has to assess the mobile app to find whether the app fulfills all the needs to provide a protection to the transmitted data.
Recent surveys revealed that the notable increase in the cyber attacks focusing more on mobile devices. In the year 2014, the software-based attacks have attained about 500 percent of the growth in the mobile devices. Cyber crimes are performed by the knowledgeable computer user, generally called as a hacker who steals an individuals’ private data or a company’s confidential information in an illegal manner.
Preventive actions to protect data from the attackers
There is a launch of many new apps in the market for every day and meanwhile, many hackers are also trying to crack these apps to fetch the information transmitted by the user. To prevent this problem, the app developers have to consider some criteria and those criteria are listed below.
• Avoid using other developers idea
Building an app from the scratch takes more time, but the developer should avoid using the existing free code to build their apps. Some attackers create the code and make it available as an open source and hopes that code would be used by any other app developers. When that program was used by any other app developer, then the hacker can easily access to the app after its release in the market.
The app developer can use the ideas of other developers, but they must aware about the security issues. The designer should not trust any third- party until they confirmed about the codes. App developers are highly recommended to use the code from any trusted and verified source.
• Adopting strong encryption algorithm
Encryption algorithms are the basic provider of security for the data transmitted over the internet. In recent times, encryption becomes out of date because of the advancement in technology. If the app does not have any encryption or using a weak encryption can threat the user information. Many of the apps ask users to provide sensitive information like credit or debit card numbers, personal identification number and more. This information can be hacked when the app does not implement any strong algorithm. So, the developer must choose strong encryption algorithms to make their app as the best application.
• Data caching susceptibility
The fundamentals of mobile devices are entirely different from traditional desktops and laptops where in phones short-term data stored as long as possible to improve the speed. This feature makes the hackers to access this cached information and cause security issues. The app developer can set a password to the app, but it reduces the popularity of an app. So, the developer must develop an app that removes all the cache immediately.
• Protected transmission to the servers
Most of the mobile apps that manipulate confidential information of user link back to the server. So, the transmission medium should be very secure and this kind of security is obtained through SSL and encryption certificates. To protect the user information, the developer must use the appropriate SSL libraries.
• Using local session timeout
App developers cannot do anything to prevent the smartphones from being lost or stolen, but they can implement a session timeout code to prevent the data from the mobile devices. Generally, a user must enter the password periodically to access an app. But now, most of the software has the ability to save passwords that can be misused when the mobile was lost. This can be prevented by using local session timeout to the application.
• Perform security testing
An app developer is the final level of defense, so they must assure that app is protecting the users’ data in an efficient manner. The designer should test the app for all possibilities of security issues, which includes GPS, camera, sensors, and some more platforms. There is no any app that entirely safe from the viruses and malware attacks.
Mostly hackers look for the debug and crash logs to attack an app, so develop must prevent the crash and debug logs from the view of users. The app developer can deactivate the NSLog statements present on iOS that also boost up the speed of an app. In Android, these debug log are cleared when the mobile device is rebooted.
• Updating the app regularly
App designers must visit their app regularly to update the security level; otherwise, hackers will try to attack the app. These corrections can take more time to get acceptance by the users. Mobile apps that used the information of customer personal details, credit or debit card numbers, should update their app’s security policies to protect the consumers’ data.
Typical security threats
Mobile apps have gone through various security threats and some of the common security attacks are given below.
• Unintended information disclosure
Most of the mobile apps collect some personal information of the user and this personalization feature appreciated by the consumers. If gathering personal data are essential to the business, then the app must provide a policy to protect the information.
• Unsafe data storage
In mobile apps, users have to access it with the help of email addresses, usernames, and passwords. Some of the apps are providing the facility of storing the passwords and other credentials in the software. It may be convenient to the user to use the app, but the security was at a great risk. It allows any other unintended person to access the app through the intended users’ mobile devices. So, the app must be designed in a way that no any critical data such as bank details, passwords and other confidential information.
• Broken cryptography
Some of the most commonly used cryptographic protocols and algorithms such as SHA1 and MD5 was proven to be inadequate for advanced security requirements. To provide a powerful security, the developer must use the stronger algorithm while designing an app.
Every app developer should think about these considerations while developing an app. Since security is the major priority for all the users in both personal and business life, a designer must build an app that meets all the privacy requirements of a user. Using strong encryption algorithm, thorough security testing, secure transmission and eliminating data cache in a regular interval can provide higher security to the users. By providing highly secure mobile apps, the company can gain more popularity and increase their potential customers.