#Asia Building a mobile app? Here’s how to address security threats


Before you deploy your mobile app, do take some time to think about the potential security consequences

The popularity of mobile apps has scaled unbelievable heights, with the number of smartphone users growing steadily. both Apple and Google app stores are flooded with an impressive array of apps that deliver impeccable value to users.

Also, organisations large and small are following the enterprise mobility trends and are embracing the popularity of mobile apps to enhance productivity of their employees. In addition, startups left and right have long since considered the mobile-first approach to be vital to their business models. With mobile fast surpassing desktop usage, after all, here is where a big chunk of the market can be found and tapped.

Also Read: 4 ways mobile apps are transforming healthcare

Unfortunately, mobile apps are also vulnerable to cyber threats, such as malware, which can pose a big risk to personal and business data. In such a scenario, app security has become one of the challenging aspects of app development regardless of platform. Whether these apps are used for personal or professional purposes, they need to be secure. Therefore, there is a need to identify these risks and eliminate them for good.

Here are the best practices for an app developer to handle app security threats:

Secure coding for secure apps

Any vulnerability in the coding of a mobile app makes it an open target for malware threats. Hackers create a fake version of an app by obtaining its public copy and placing malicious code into it. The fake app is then made available for download. When users install these apps and use them, they unknowingly provide their personal information as well as corporate data to unscrupulous hackers. In this way, the app becomes insecure as hackers can misuse personal or enterprise data.

A large number of apps are insecure by design, because developers compromise with coding. This issue can be tackled by applying best security practices such as using scanning tools for source code and also analyzing code from third parties. It is equally important to scan the code of other apps which are installed on the user’s phone. Also, the app developer should check as well as secure any vulnerabilities in to safeguard apps from being tampered with or reverse-engineered.

Also Read: Failing 8th grade did not deter this entrepreneur from founding a highly sought-after web security startup

Device security is important, too

Device security is as important as app security. A device becomes unsecured if it allows an unauthorised app to bypass the operating system security. It will install any app from any source, which exposes it to high risk of being attacked by malware.

This means people using enterprise apps should avoid jailbroken or rooted devices. Additionally, downloading apps from unofficial app stores and untrusted third parties can also risk the device security. Users should avoid doing so. They should not give excessive permissions to mobile apps, as these help malware to access the basic services. In the case of enterprise apps, the app should be structured in such a manner that device security risk is incorporated in it. For instance, if a sensitive transaction is to be executed by the app and it detects that the device is jailbroken, the app should not execute the task.

High-risk mobile transactions should be secured

Another major risk factor that plagues mobile app users is that most of these apps are built to integrate with third parties. Users of banking apps, for instance, can make third party payments with it. Businesses need to prioritise these transactions according to their risk level and control their execution accordingly.

The factors such as device security attributes, network connection security, and location/timing of the transaction are to be considered as the key parameters for controlling the transactions. In other words, a suspicious looking access or transaction should not be allowed.

Also Read: As 2017 walks in, get yourself ready to face these cyber security threats

Data theft and leakage should Be checked

Enterprise data leakage is the biggest risk for companies that follow BYOD or bring-your-own-device policies. The critical data, information, and documents of the enterprise are at risk if the employee shares these with non-enterprise apps or loses his device. Mobile app development teams can provide various measures to meet this challenge. They use mobile data encryption for securing data against unauthorised access. Selective remote wipe capability is another measure that is used to erase all the sensitive data from a compromised mobile device. Employees should not be allowed to share the company data on non-enterprise apps.

Most developers need to focus on the functionality of mobile apps. But at the same time, developers should realise how important security is. Adopting all these above mentioned secondary practices can be a great way to ensure that that mobile apps are well-guarded.


The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, submit your post here.

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