If we have to talk about one of the most important pieces of technology that is shaping the future as we speak then that piece of technology has to be the smartphone.

And when it comes to smartphones, we cannot ignore the contribution of the humble mobile application.

That is why today we are going to talk about mobile app security and specifically how to secure your mobile apps. We will bring you a few important mobile app security best practices to follow.

These practices will be in the form of secure mobile application development. If you can implement these practices then you will ensure not only the best mobile app authentication for your users but better mobile app data protection as well.

We will be talking about a few simple ways of doing that in the form of secure coding for mobile apps and even secure app design principles. There will be points about secure app communication and following app store security guidelines.

We are also going to be talking about mobile app security tips and most importantly mobile app security checklists. So, let us start this blog by understanding what is mobile application security.

What Exactly Is Mobile Application Security?

Mobile Application Security

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Mobile application security is exactly what it sounds like and it is understanding the safety situation of a mobile app.

Mobile app security is everything about predicting attacks on mobile applications and preventing of security lapses in the form of malware attacks and key logger attacks and any other kind of manipulation.

Companies spend millions of dollars in trying to ensure mobile app security for their users and one of the ways they do it is by creating a mobile app security strategy.

This strategy comprises of different variables such as authentication techniques but it also involves helping the users understand better security practices.

Mobile app security is very important in this day and age where you can hear of database leaks and user data being sold on dark web portals.

That is why this blog will help you understand the best practices regarding mobile app security.

Here Are the Most Common Mobile App Security Risks

User Data Leaks

This is one of the most common types of leaks and it can take place from the server but it can also take place from individual users and usually happens if the data is not encrypted.

Authentication Vulnerability

One of the most common ways attackers try to get into secure servers is when you do not have proper authentication protocols in place. This attack might take place from the side of the user as well. This is when there is no system-wide two-factor authentication(2FA) or any biometric authentication protocols.

Server-Side Issues

Weaknesses and vulnerabilities can also arise from the side of the server when the code can be reached and servers can fail. This usually happens when tests and security audits are not conducted.

Device Malware Issues

Mobile apps can face security issues if the device is already infected with malware and that malware can spread from any infected app or any other device to another device depending on account migration.

Here Are the Security Practices to Follow for Mobile App Security

Best Level Authentication

One of the biggest issues facing mobile apps is authentication issues. This might not be very malicious and sometimes it might just be other users trying to log into other accounts for different services.

However, sometimes it can be very malicious as hackers might be trying to get user data and that is only possible when there are no strong authentication protocols in place.

That is why companies need to ensure that they are able to authenticate users through various means. Strong account authentication can be done in multiple ways.

You can enable mandatory mobile number authentication whenever the user creates their account and if you are dealing with a banking app then you can even ask for a government ID.

Furthermore, if you want to improve the level of authentication then you can even ask for a video call for video verification of the user. This is not very practical and not really something users would want for a low-level app.

You can try out other forms of authentication such as email verification but you must make sure that the user does not use any temporary email clients.

Then there is the fantastic two-factor authentication(2FA) and biometric authentication. They are sort of becoming the norm in every industry.

Data Encryption

You can have the best level of authentication possible but it is of no use if the data that you have on your server is not secure.

The problem with the data is that it is not in one place and can’t be locked down. It has to move from the server to the users multiple times every day.

When the data is in movement that is when the data becomes the most vulnerable and that is when you have to think of protecting that data.

You can do that with the help of encryption through security keys. These are keys that will help the data to be deciphered only when the user’s mobile is authenticated with security keys.

You must always make sure to test out your encryption strength through manual penetration testing because that is the best way to understand the strength of your encryption.

When it comes to data encryption you can do it two ways and it all depends on how much you want to spend on data encryption.

You can go with the simple protocol of symmetric encryption that uses the same key for encrypting the data as well as decrypting the data.

Or you can go with an additional level of safety with asymmetric encryption. This is when the encryption and decryption of the data are done with different security keys.

You can utilise anything from AES with 512-bit encryption or even SHA-256 if you have hashing requirements.

This should be a permanent stay in your mobile app security checklist.

Guidelines Compliance

One of the simplest ways to make sure that your mobile application is secure is to simply follow the guidelines provided by the platforms.

Sometimes the platforms are simply too preoccupied to check every guideline and see if the apps follow it.

That is when the apps have to self-enforce all the guidelines. That is why it is very important that you keep all the guidelines in mind.

These guidelines are not just there for regulatory reasons but it is also there to ensure app security.

In order to stay in compliance and offer better encryption options you can get hold of different signing certificates that will make your app pass different compliance requirements.

It’s all about following the rules and getting validated so that your apps are much more secure and trusted by the platform.

If you do everything by the books and even after that your app faces attacks then the platform might support you as well.

You should never compromise the security of your mobile app for the benefit of the mobile app development timeline.

Good APIs

Every app needs third-party services and integration in today’s day and age and that might also be the case with your mobile application.

This is because if you do not utilise APIs then you are going to sacrifice functionality and that is never a good thing.

That is why you must make sure to only get the most reputed API from the best sources. This is because if you get APIs from shady sources then things can go sideways very fast for your sensitive data.

Speaking of data, you must also make sure to always keep data access authorisations in mind because that is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal to protect your app.

The general reasoning behind security best practices is to simply have the best quality services and you are already halfway there to provide a good level of app security.

Data Storage

Data storage is a nightmare for security analysts that have to deal with mobile app security and there is a saying in the industry that is very relevant.

The best way to avoid data leaks is to not have data in the first place and that is right the first course of action companies need to take is to avoid storing sensitive data if possible.

If you really have to store that sensitive data then you can do it two ways and one would be to have that data encrypted and stored locally in the mobile phones of your users.

If this is not possible then you should implement encrypted security containers or keychains. You can even implement blockchain but if you do not have the technical know-how then encrypted data containers are enough.

The key thing to understand here is that you should implement encryption at every step of the way and while that might lead to performance issues.

But it is always good to have an app that is a little bit slower than a high-performance app that is a security risk. Data storage can be made secure for both hybrid and native apps.

Source Code Security

If the source code is faulty and has bugs that have been ignored then it becomes the first line of failure in case of an attack.

You can test out manual penetration attacks to find out the vulnerabilities or you can do something even better. You can hire ethical hackers to crack the system and find bugs.

You can then reverse engineer the attack to find out which walls that are down and crumbling. If you need to stop an attack, you need to think from the perspective of the hacker and that is why ethical hackers can be an amazing benefit to your apps.

This might not be the case if you have a harmless calculator app that does not need a lot of permissions and cannot access the user’s file storage or something like that.

But if you have something remotely more complex like an eCommerce app then that app has to have a lot of access to the user’s data, you definitely need to keep checking your source code for bugs.

Tamper Alerts and Protection

You can go two ways about testing the security of your app and one is to do manual penetration testing and the other is to get ethical hackers to crack the app and look for vulnerabilities.

However, there is a third way and it is to have tamper detection systems in place. These are already very advanced for the market and you might not get a proper system for an affordable rate and might increase your mobile app development costs a little.

But if you manage to deploy an active tamper detection mechanism then that will be active all the time not only to give you notifications when the app is being tempered but also to check the security of the app itself.

These detection systems utilise checksumming and code obfuscation and much more to always do what they are designed to do.

Apart from all these things, all you need to do is simply keep on testing the app for vulnerabilities and make sure the app is secure.

You can outsource the security of your app but it will still not be as good as hiring experts who understand app security and asking them to build the app from the ground up.

That is exactly what we do, we not only modify existing apps and improve their security levels but we also create new apps that are bulletproof from the get-go.

We are Think To Share IT Solutions and we are one of the most renowned mobile app developers in India and we have one of the finest levels of experience when it comes to creating security apps for every industry.

We have ample experience in creating enterprise-grade surveillance solutions and data storage solutions as well as eCommerce and banking apps and much more.

We would love to create the best air-tight secure mobile applications for you and we welcome you to visit our website and check out exactly what we do.

Common Mobile App Security FAQs

How do I protect my phone apps?

If you are talking about it from the point of you of the end user then the best thing you can do is not download apps from unknown sources and only get them from the Apple App Store or the Play Store.

You must also keep in mind what kind of permissions you are allowing because if a calculator app asks for camera, contacts or location permission then that should make you think twice about that app.

And if you are talking about it from the perspective of the app developer then all you need to do is to implement encryption. You need to keep on testing the app for vulnerabilities.

You must also avoid storing sensitive data as much as you can but if you do then you need to store it in secure containers.

You must also make sure that the source code is excellent and try out manual penetration testing to find bugs.

What is the best security for a mobile app?

You can implement different kinds of security for a mobile app and it all starts with data encryption because if you have an asymmetrical encryption then that is the best thing to do.

You must also make sure user authentication is always multi-factor which means biometrics and token-based authentication.

Along with that you should definitely conduct regular testing and carry out security audits to make sure the mobile app is secure.

How do I protect my apps privacy?

The best way to protect app data is to have limited app data and it means not collecting data whenever you can.

You must also implement methods by which users can delete their account and their data. You must also have privacy controls which means users will be able to select and consent to the data that they provide.

Additionally, you must also implement data encryption wherever possible and store sensitive data securely.

While you know this already, you must definitely utilize safe communication protocols for data transmission.

How do I secure my Android apps?

The best thing to do is to follow the guidelines laid down in the Google Play Store and if you follow these guidelines then you are already halfway there.

You must also be very transparent about data collection and let the users know when the data is being collected.

You must also make sure to utilize secure network communication.

The thing about protecting Android apps is that users follow all these steps and you must follow the industry leaders when it comes to Android apps and how they protect that app.