Every week, thousands of new apps are seen hitting the mobile market. Unfortunately, the number of hackers working assiduously to tap into these apps to implant malware or phish for user information has also been on the increase. By implication, there is every need to take the security of mobile users very seriously particularly when it comes to app development.
Apart from being highly vigilant about security, app developers need to be able to identify these security issues and know how to avoid them, so as to be able to provide users with the security they need to keep their information and other data safe. Security issues can be experienced in various forms during any mobile application development process; some of which are explained below.
Failure to implement secure communications to servers
Most apps are designed to connect back to a server particularly those applications that control sensitive user information. Therefore, as a critical area of concern, mobile app developers must ensure safe transit between the app and the server. Nothing has to be interrupted on an insecure WiFi connection. Basically, this type of security is achievable through SSL certificates and encryption. User information can be compromised particularly if developers fail to employ the right SSL libraries.
Inability to plan for physical security breaches
Nothing much can be done to prevent theft or loss of mobile devices. In fact, mobile app developers have a very little role to play in this. However, they can greatly help to minimize the problem by executing a local session timeout code. Usually, users are obligated to enter a password from time to time to access an app. Rather than making this a daily occurrence, password requirement from devices can be observed once a week or at the fifth time the app is used. Local session timeout can also prevent the use of software that helps users remember passwords.
The use of weak encryption or an entire lack of encryption
Obviously, improves constantly which helps to make algorithms become obsolete and very easy to crack. Failing to use encryption or using weak encryption in an app can put sensitive user information at risk of getting exposed. In the course of using certain apps, users are obligated to input sensitive data like personal identification information or credit card numbers. It is sad to know that this information can be hacked particularly with the absence of good encryption. An app is more likely to be hacked when it becomes more popular. So, if you are looking to push your app to the top, there is every need to invest in good encryption.
Bypassing systematic security testing
Most importantly, Indian app developers need to consider themselves as the last line of defense. You stand to put your app users at risk when you fail to ensure a secure app. In every development process, testing is very important and as such, there is no need to rush in releasing an app. Ensure to test every common inlet for security issues, such as sensors, GPS, camera, and even the development platform. Viruses and malware are no respecters of apps – every app is vulnerable to an attack from them.
Developers should try as much as possible to avoid the eruption of a crash and debug logs during testing. These are often common places hackers often take advantage of for app vulnerabilities. Apart from increasing the speed of an app, NSLog statements on iOS can be effectively disabled during iPhone app development to avoid vulnerabilities. Also, an Android app remains vulnerable until the Android debug log is typically cleared.
Lack of proper planning for data caching vulnerabilities
Unlike standard laptops and desktops, mobile devices are well-known for their ability to store short-term information for longer periods. This caching method generally helps to increase speed. However, since hackers can easily access cached information, there is every possible for mobile devices to be susceptible to security breaches. A major way of avoiding the problem is by demanding for a password to use an app. However, this can affect the popularity of your app, as most app users often find the use of passwords to be quite inconvenient. Alternatively, you can program the cache to be automatically erased every time users reboot their mobile device. This is another meaningful solution to data caching vulnerabilities.
Adopting other developers’ code
Developing an app from the start can be very time-consuming but with the availability of numerous free codes, this process has been extremely simplified. Interestingly, some hackers create codes for unsuspecting developers. In the hopes that application developers would pick up their codes, some hackers have ventured into creating anonymous codes. Through this, they tend to gain easy and free access to any information of their choice after the app has been designed and released.
Although it is never a bad thing to build upon people’s ideas, however, it is highly essential to carry out relevant research before doing so. In order to avoid experiencing security issues, it is well advisable that you make use of code from reliable sources. So, if you’re looking to build upon the ideas of a third-party, ensure to use sources you can trust. As a matter of fact, always use verified and trusted sources for code and ensure to be on the lookout for phishing scams by reading the code line by line.
Slow patching of app
Just because your app has been launched does not mean that you are done with the development process. Hackers are always on the move, they do not relent in their efforts to break through an app and so, they always work very fast. Most times, they search for apps with irregular security updates. Then they exploit these security breaches to bring down the app. Just to let you know, it is good to perform regular security updates by revisiting the app often.
However, users on their own part may be unable to get these patches on time. This is because they have to accept and download them. Additionally, the approval process of a patch on an iOS platform can typically take up to a week. Obviously, patches can take a while to reach users. To this end, you can put user information at risk if you fail to stay right on top of new security updates.
When it comes to creating apps that deal with confidential matters such as personal information and customer credit cards, there is always no room for error. To any app developer, the repercussions of the smallest security breach can be highly catastrophic. As a matter of fact, it is your duty to protect both your app and its users. So, ensure to take all necessary precautions so as not to get caught unawares.