Guide to Mobile Application Security Tips for App Developers

Guide to Mobile Application Security Tips for App Developers

The number of mobile apps on the market has reached a new high. The availability of mobile applications for shopping, contacts and personal information, future events, and relevant projects attests to this. Google Play Store is the leading online distributor of mobile apps. Global enterprises and organizations are adopting mobile app development services to improve client communication and increase employee productivity. Even businesses that have never used apps are entering the app market. Mobile apps are now a common part of everyday life for everyone, even when sending sensitive data. There is one question that businesses and users still ignore - Are mobile applications secure? Organizations should, therefore, safeguard their apps and enjoy the benefits they provide. We have created a checklist of mobile application security tips; you can follow to ensure you app remains safe from cyberthreats and hackers.

What is mobile application security?

What is mobile application security? According to the Mobile Security Report 2020, 97% of organizations have been attacked via mobile devices, and 46% of employees have downloaded malicious applications. It has caused many businesses to be concerned about the security of their user data and how they interact with brands. During these interactions, they exchange data on the applications with brands, resulting in malicious exposure without adequate security measures. Mobile device security has become an absolute necessity. You must follow the best mobile application security tips before publishing an app online.

Common Types of Mobile Security Threats

Common Types of Mobile Security Threats Smartphones are less valuable today than the information they can access. Users are usually logged in to their mobile platforms even when the device is turned off or set aside. This includes email clients, social networks, messengers, and shopping or streaming applications. Suppose a thief cracks a password from a stolen device. In that case, they can use this sensitive information to steal an owner's identity, blackmail, damage their reputation, or drain their bank account. When a mobile phone is lost, and the finder decides they want to keep it, this can be a problem.  Engineers classify threats based on their origin and target. One of the most basic classifications is passive and active threats. Passive threat is a term used to describe vulnerabilities in the code for mobile applications or operating systems. These are possible entry points that hackers can use to commit malicious acts. If, for example, an application uses outdated security protocols or sends data unencrypted, this could be a risk. Active Threats is a tool in the hacker's arsenal. Many tools are available to hack mobile security. These include malware, spyware, viruses, and phishing websites. They may masquerade as harmless websites or software or remain hidden and leak data for several months.

Mobile Application Security Tips Developers Must Follow in 2023

Mobile Application Security Tips Developers Must Follow in 2023 Most people must consider security when playing the latest mobile games, shortening, or using their mobile banking application. As an app developer, you should ask yourself the most important question before publishing your app: How can I protect it from malicious intent? Security for mobile applications has become an absolute necessity in recent years. A single mistake can put your personal and professional information at risk. One breach can cost you millions of dollars, and the trust of your customers is irreparable. As a result of this financial and reputational loss, developers must be alert from the moment they start writing the first line. As a developer, you should consider the following mobile application security tips:

Create a Secure Code

Start writing code the day after you learn how to do it. This will help you stay one step ahead of hackers. An attacker is looking for bugs and vulnerabilities within code. The attackers try to obtain the public version of the code and reverse engineer it. A study shows that malicious code on mobiles can make up to 11.6 million devices vulnerable to attack. It is important to minify and obfuscate your code to make it harder to reverse engineer and breakthrough. Testing and bug-fixing are required repeatedly. Agile code is needed to update the code on the end user's side after a breach.

Perform Penetration Tests

The developer can use automated or manual techniques to analyze the app and find loopholes allowing attackers direct access to the application. Conducting penetration testing has as its primary goal to ensure no major defects in the application. Penetration testing is usually part of a more comprehensive mobile app threat assessment process. Developers must test all app parameters, including architecture, design, and network communication. They should also check for privacy issues, misconfigurations, data storage, and security. Developers must fix any problems that arise before the app is released.

Compliance and Integrity

Apps must meet certain security requirements and parameters before they can be launched. App store guidelines may include specific security measures that developers must follow. The app store may have specific security measures for developers to follow. Modern smartphones use app stores to distribute apps that have been signed or software that requires code signing. This ensures that the platform only distributes pre-vetted apps. The store will validate the developer's identity and security requirements. The application can be downloaded if it meets the operating system's guidelines. This may sound like one of the major challenges in mobile app development, but several options for coding signs are available. You can also quickly obtain a cheap code-signing certificate to ensure compliance. This certificate proves the code is original and has never been altered. This certificate allows developers to encrypt information related to their identities, which can then be decrypted by a public key provided to users. The API or Application Programming Interface is another aspect of app security that you should be aware of.

Use High-Level Authentication

Passwords and other identifiers are used for user authentication. Weak authentications have caused some of the largest breaches. App developers should insist that users use unique and strong passwords to access their applications. Most cybersecurity experts have focused on the importance of complex, unique, and strong passwords. A recent survey found that weak passwords caused 53% of breaches. Users of apps should be forced to create long passwords that contain a mixture of characters. Developers should also not allow apps to store passwords, which could compromise the app's security. Developers can use two-factor authentication to increase the security for iOS app development needs. The app user will have to provide additional authentication information in addition to the username and password. Users can access their apps using biometrics, secret codes, or code words. This app security feature can be used in many ways, as unauthorized parties always miss the second authentication factor.

Reduce Sensitive Data Storage

Developers store sensitive data in devices' memory to protect it from users. Due to security concerns, sensitive data is not recommended to be stored. If you can't keep your data in any other way, use encrypted data containers or key chains. Use the auto-delete function to minimize the log. The log will be deleted after a certain period. Developers are concerned about implementing best mobile application security tips because they fear malicious behavior. Users are reluctant to install unreliable applications. The above best practices should help you develop secure mobile apps.

Enforce Software Upgrades

Today's mobile app updates are designed to improve security, not add new features. A vulnerable application could be an outdated one. The developers are responsible for maintaining the app's safety by releasing updates and patches to users' devices as quickly as possible.

Optimise Data Caching

Here are some tips on optimizing data caching for mobile apps to prevent data leakage and protect data.

  1. Select the best caching strategy. This should be based on the data to be cached and the application's requirements. A cache-aside approach may be the best option if the data changes frequently. However, a write-through strategy is more appropriate if it is static and rarely changes.
  2. Select the appropriate cache depending on the type and amount of data to be cached. You can choose from in-memory, file-based, or database-based caching.
  3. Use the cache to store data wisely. Keep the data you use most often in the supply, and delete any other data. This will ensure that your collection is always current and you are not wasting device storage.
  4. Use policies for cache eviction: To manage the size and decide what data to remove if space is limited. It can ensure that your cache is efficient and effective.
  5. Use the cache's appropriate expiration time to avoid serving users stale information. An optimal expiration time will improve user experience and reduce network traffic.
  6. Monitor cache performance and analyze it regularly to identify improvements and optimize the cache with time. This will ensure that your stock is efficient and effective at meeting the needs of both the application and the users.

Use the Latest Cryptography Techniques

Use the most recent security algorithm to protect your app from hackers. Since hackers are known to try to crack older encryption algorithms, the latest version can add a layer of protection to your app. Advanced Encryption Standard is one of the most widely used encryption algorithms. AES is based on a symmetric algorithm. This means the same key can be used to encrypt and decrypt data. AES can be implemented in different versions, including 512-bit, 256-bit, and SHA256 hashing.

Use the Principle of Least Privilege

In cyberspace, the principle of least privilege should be followed. This principle states that a subject should only be granted the benefits necessary to complete a task. The principle states that an app or code should run only with the permissions necessary to perform its function. This principle is also relevant in other IT aspects, such as user systems, processes networks, or applications. It is best only to allow application access to data resources if it does not need to use different data sources or functionalities, such as contacts, sensitive data, photo galleries, location, network connections, or contact information. This principle reduces the impact of breaches in a significant way.

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Security for Backend servers

The majority of mobile apps use a client/server model. Developers must use adequate mobile application security tips to protect backend servers from malicious threats. Most developers believe that only applications programmed to use the application programming language can access it. This is only sometimes the case. The application programming interface (API) and transport mechanisms vary widely from platform to platform.

Create an Effective Backup and Restore Strategy

Technology is rapidly progressing. And there is no doubt that with adoption of new mobile app development trends, new security threats are also emerging.  Criminals have found increasingly clever and sophisticated methods of accessing sensitive user data by exploiting mobile applications. Even after taking these precautions, hackers may still manage to breach your defenses and launch destructive attacks aimed at damaging the name of your app. Backup and restore plans can protect mobile applications against hack attacks by offering continuity protection should something go wrong. Developers should encourage users to regularly backup their data in an alternative location and store it offsite.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication

Combining two methods of authentication is a security standard that has been adopted by many for good reason. Mobile devices are often used with a password and SMS code or biometric scans, like a face or fingerprint scan.

Manage user Sessions Conservatively

Your conservatism may vary depending on your industry or the types of users that your app is designed to serve. Internet banking apps and similar apps that deal with confidential information should have short timeouts - usually minutes. Some apps, which do not handle sensitive data, can run for several hours. New session identifiers must be generated every time the user logs out and then reauthenticates to gain access to the app's sensitive data.

Secure Data in Transit

Attackers can intercept HTTP communications when sending data from mobile devices to server-side ends. Transport Layer Security (TLS),Certificate Pinning, and other methods can be used to secure data during transit. TLS evolved from Secure Socket Layers and allows you to encrypt your data using public key encryption in transit. TLS doesn't secure data on the end system but prevents data access while in digital transit. Certificate Pinning checks if a digital certificate matches the domain name it claims using a set of public keys. Consider the security needs of your app, your data's sensitivity, and any potential issues when choosing a way to protect your data during transit.

Take Care with Third-Party Library Software

Third-party libraries may save you time using code that has already been written, but they also pose serious security threats. The code may have security flaws that attackers can exploit because the user did not write it. For example, Log4j's communication feature had a bug that allowed attackers to inject code into the logs.  This security risk was not discovered for years, from 2013 to 2020. Use code from trusted sources such as controlled repositories and enforce policy controls when acquiring. Attackers can still gain access to code even without third-party libraries. This is where tamper detection comes into play. Also Read: 10 Tips To Hire Remote Mobile App Developers

Deploy Tamper Detection

When someone attempts to inject malicious code or tamper your code, tamper detection alerts the user. You can prevent the code from working if you use active tamper-detection mechanisms. It is more difficult for an attacker to alter your code, and you are kept informed of any attempts. Many ways exist to detect tampering. Some of the most common include digital signatures, check summing, and code obfuscation.

The Key Takeaway

The Key Takeaway Mobile application security has increased in recent years. Application security compromises can have disastrous consequences for users and application developers. To ensure secure application development, several mobile application security tips can be followed. One of the best techniques is to train the team on security. Effective team communication and penetration tests will advance the iOS or Android app development process. Assuring the security of mobile apps is an important task. Assigning this task to engineers with the necessary experience and testing tools is important. JPLoft employs professionals who work in coordinated teams to provide various mobile app services. We ensure the highest quality and security standards are maintained throughout the development cycle. Contact us to have a mobile product built to industry-leading standards for quality and security, such as OWASP and ISO.


Why is mobile application security crucial to app developers? 

Mobile application security is paramount because it protects user data, maintains brand trust, and prevents financial losses due to data breaches. Developers should ensure their apps meet this goal to maintain trust among their user base.

What are the common security vulnerabilities in mobile applications?

Vulnerabilities associated with mobile apps typically include insecure data storage, inadequate encryption levels, weak authentication mechanisms, and inadequate server-side protection measures. Developers should be mindful of such vulnerabilities to minimize risks.

What strategies can developers implement to safeguard data breaches in mobile apps?

Developers can avoid breaches by employing strong mobile application security tips for data at rest and transit, protecting API endpoints with SSL security certificates, and conducting regular security audits or penetration testing of their apps.

Are third-party libraries and SDKs safe to use in mobile apps? 

That depends on their security practices - developers should assess these libraries carefully for potential security flaws before adding them, then keep their versions updated while monitoring for advisories from security services.

What are the best practices for protecting mobile apps against reverse engineering? 

Developers can utilize various mobile application security tips such as code-hardening measures, and binary protection solutions to make it difficult for attackers to reverse engineer them. Regular updates of an app may also lower this risk. Also Read: 10 Biggest Challenges in Mobile App Development

How can developers ensure user authentication in mobile applications? 

Developers should employ safe authentication protocols like OAuth or OpenID Connect, implement multi-factor authentication, and safely store user credentials using salted hashing techniques.

Should developers implement a bug bounty program to identify vulnerabilities?

Yes, bug bounty programs can be an invaluable way of discovering and fixing vulnerabilities before attackers do. Incentivizing ethical hackers to identify security problems creates an incentive for finding and reporting security flaws early.

What should mobile app developers do if there's an identity theft incident with their application?

Developers should create and execute an incident response plan when a security breach is on their site, with specific steps for mitigating it, notifying affected users, and cooperating with authorities as needed.