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A blog about software development best practices, how-tos, and tips from practitioners.

Top 8 Best Practices to Develop Secure Mobile Apps

Top 8 Best Practices to Develop Secure Mobile Apps

In this glittering world of technologies and computers, you can establish trust via many methods like password sharing, zero knowledge proof, asymmetric keys, end-to-end encryption, etc.

Besides, there are some widely accepted best practices to build secure mobile apps.

The number of mobile applications in the market has touched the new height. The availability of mobile apps for shopping, contacts, personal information, relevant projects, and future events attest to this. Google Play Store, Apple App Store, and Windows Store are leading online mobile app distributors.

With this accelerating rise in the mobile app economy, global enterprises and organizations are embracing this technology to enhance their communications with the client and to increase employee productivity. Today, even businesses that never used apps in the past are entering this domain. Mobile apps now become a mandatory solution for every company. Most importantly mobile apps have become a part and parcel of the life of all individuals where they are used even to transmit sensitive data.

However, there is one critical question that many businesses and users continue to overlook – Are mobile applications secure?

Mobile apps remain the prime target for malicious activity. Hence, organizations should safeguard their apps while enjoying the tremendous benefits that these apps provide. Here we describe a mobile app security checklist to refer while building your mobile apps.

8 Things to Ensure Security of Your Mobile Apps

The mobile app security issues are more critical in the age of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) where employees often merge their professional and personal interests into a single device. Here are the eight mobile app security best practices to develop hack-free applications:

1. Source Code Encryption

As most of the code in a native mobile app are on the client side, mobile malware can easily track the bugs and vulnerabilities within the source code and design. Attackers generally repack the renowned apps into the rogue app using reverse-engineering technique. Then they upload those apps into third-party app stores with the intent to attract the unsuspecting users.

Threats like these can take your organization’s reputation downhill. Developers should be careful while building an app and include tools to detect as well as address security vulnerabilities. Developers should ensure that their applications are robust enough to prevent any tampering and reverse engineering attacks. Encrypting the source code can be an ideal way to defend your application from these attacks as it ensures unreadable.

2. Penetration Tests - Perform a Thorough QA & Security Check

It has been a consistently good practice to test your application against randomly generated security scenarios before every deployment. Especially, pen testing can avoid security risk and vulnerabilities against your mobile apps. Detecting loopholes in the system is an absolute necessity. Since these loopholes could grow to become potential threats that give access to mobile data and features.

3. Secure the Data-in-transit

The sensitive information that is transmitted from the client to server needs to be protected against privacy leaks and data theft. It is highly recommended to use either an SSL or VPN tunnel, which ensures that user data is protected with strict security measures.

4. File-Level & Database Encryption - Make Provisions for Data Security

When it comes to accessing confidential data, the mobile apps are designed in a way that the unstructured data is stored in the local file system and/or database within the device storage. However, the data in the sandbox are not effectively encrypted; hence, there is a major loophole for potential vulnerabilities.

To ensure security in the sandbox environment, you should implement mobile app data encryption using SQLite Database Encryption Modules or practice file-level encryption across multiple platforms.

5. Use the Latest Cryptography Techniques

Even the most popular cryptography algorithms like MD5 and SHA1 often become insufficient to meet the ever-increasing security requirements. Therefore, it is vital to remain updated with the latest security algorithm, and whenever possible, use modern encryption methods like AES with 512-bit encryption, 256-bit encryption & SHA-256 for hashing. In addition, you should perform manual penetration testing and threat modeling on your applications before it goes live to ensure foolproof security.

6. High-level Authentication

The lack of high-level authentication leads to security breaches. Developers should design the apps in such a way that it only accepts strong alphanumeric passwords. On top of that, it is better to make it mandatory for the users to change their passwords periodically. For extremely sensitive apps, you can strengthen the security with biometric authentication using fingerprints or retina scan. Encouraging the users to ensure authentication would be the recommended way to avoid security breaches.

7. Secure the Backend

Majority of mobile applications have a client-server mechanism. It is essential to have security measures in place to safeguard against malicious attacks at backend servers. Most of the developers assume that only the app that has been programmed to access APIs can access it. However, you should verify all your APIs in accordance with the mobile platform you aim to code for because API authentication and transport mechanisms can deviate from one platform to another.

8. Minimize Storage of Sensitive Data

To protect sensitive data from the users, developers prefer to store the data in the device local memory. However, it is best practice to avoid storing sensitive data as it might increase the security risk. If you have no other option other than storing the data, better use encrypted data containers or key chain. Additionally, make sure to minimize the log by adding the auto-delete feature, which automatically deletes data after a certain time.

Undoubtedly, mobile app security issues become a priority concern for developers with the increasing risk of malicious activities. It results in users wary of installing unreliable apps. Hope the above best practices satisfy your concern about how to develop a secure mobile application for your customers.

At Clarion, we follow industry-standard mobile app security best practices along with a stringent security testing strategy to ensure the reliability and integrity of our applications. We firmly believe that mobile app development is about innovation and creativity with safe user experience. Our extensive testing practice and Proficient mobile development specialists strive to provide you the most secure and reliable mobile applications.

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