Hackernoon logoHow to Ensure Mobile App Security - Checklist for Developers by@usmankhalid86

How to Ensure Mobile App Security - Checklist for Developers

Usman Khalid Hacker Noon profile picture

@usmankhalid86Usman Khalid

Research Analyst with a thirst for Technology.

“If you spend more time on coffee than on IT security, you will be hacked. What’s more, you deserve to be hacked.” - Richard Clarke, Former White House Cybersecurity Advisor

Technological advancements have equipped us with powerful tools and revolutionized the way we communicate, do business, and make transactions. However, with great power comes great responsibility, and providing users with a safe & secure mobile application is one aspect of mobile app development that still needs big improvement. Ever since the Facebook Cambridge Analytica controversy, people are now even more concerned about their data security. 

The benefits of mobile applications are quite evident but sometimes it comes at a cost of compromising user data. In the pursuit of developing an exceptional look & feel, application creators often overlook the importance of mobile app security. This can prove to be rather damaging for both the user and the business in the long-run. 

If you are on your way to making an app for iOS or Android, you need to take foolproof measures in this department. Here are some ways you can incorporate these measures into mobile app development.

The Mobile App Security Checklist

Secure the Source Code

Imagine installing a million-dollar home security system and then leaving the main gate open. No matter how much time and money you invest in an application, a weak code can ruin it all. So what do you do? Make the app’s source code secure by reducing its chances of being reverse engineered.

One way to achieve mobile app security is Obfuscation. This is a method that turns the source code into incomprehensible symbols and letters, making it almost impossible for hackers to decode it. This security measure is available in Android’s Pro-Guard and also for iOS mobile applications.

Secure the Database

In the tech world, data is king. Be it Google, Facebook, or Amazon, they all rely on using big data to run their business using Artificial Intelligence (AI). They use user information like age, gender, location, preferences, and payment details to predict their behavior and act accordingly. Chances are, your app will run on this data too. 

Make this valuable information hack-proof by using technologies like end-to-end encryption when developing an application.

Check Third-party Code’s safety

Why bother writing new code, when it’s already available? 

It’s common practice to use pre-written code available online for free or even purchase it. This, however, is not always the right thing to do. According to a survey, only 16% of developers fully trust outsourced codes. 

Refrain from using third-party codes and if they are required, make sure it’s not compromising mobile app security.

Choose APIs Wisely

It is one of the backbones of mobile app development but it can also be a security-nightmare. Go for APIs that are compatible with the application’s platform and use an API Gateway to make the app more secure.

Get into the Hacker’s shoes

It’s good to think from a user’s perspective when developing an application but it’s equally important to think like a hacker. Look for weaknesses & loopholes in your code, try to reverse engineer it, and imitate a cyber-criminal. 

Repeat this process until you are satisfied with the code and confident that it will not risk mobile app security.

Test, Test and Test again

It’s never perfect. 

Studies suggest that over 60% of developers think their code is vulnerable to cyber-attacks. One major reason is that programmers don’t perform enough tests.

They often leave it to the QA team to look for security loopholes, which is not a healthy practice. App security should be a priority and checks should be performed repeatedly at every step.

Why Should you Care about Mobile App Security?

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and few minutes of cyber-incident to ruin it.” – Stephane Nappo

Firstly, its the moral responsibility of the business owner to protect user data. Besides harming the consumer-seller trust, an information leak can cause financial and mental damage to a user too.

Secondly, the regulatory authorities are now taking cyber-security seriously too. Ever since the Facebook Cambridge Analytica fiasco, there are harsh penalties for tech businesses that are not GDPR compliant.  

The security measures mentioned above are part of the bigger plan. Technology is changing at a fast pace and cyber-criminals are constantly evolving too. Mobile app developers need to stay up-to-date with the latest skills & tools. To develop an app that outsmarts any sort of security breach, you need to up the ante & stay one step ahead of the hackers.

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