Security in mobile application development: the 5 biggest risks

A survey by Nokia revealed that we look at our cell phone about 150 times a day, which indicates how far the mobile apps development sector has come. However, the development of applications for Android and iOS goes much further than creating an attractive interface or solving a simple user problem.

Protecting secure data should be the most important element of professionals seeking long-term growth and consolidation of their work in this industry.  While the mobile world currently experiencing spectacular growth, it is extremely competitive and exposed to security issues. Find out the 5 worst security dangers in the development of mobile apps.

  1. Insecure data storage

Developers are responsible for protecting the data of people who use their applications. It is recommended that data not be stored for a long time and be anonymous when possible, otherwise they may be a problem.

If your data storage is not secure, sensitive data such as passwords and credit card numbers may be vulnerable to hacks due to lack of knowledge of device behaviour, unprotected synchronization of sensitive data in the Cloud or data stored in unsafe places, such as on the SD Card.

Develop your application in such a way that no critical information is stored directly on the device. If some information must be stored on the device, it should be done safely.

To protect passwords on iOS, they should be stored within a section of encrypted data on the iOS key chain. For Android, they must reside in the encrypted storage in the data directory of the internal application and the application must be marked to not allow backup.

  1. Weak server-side controls

You cannot rely solely on the device to enforce security controls. Mobile applications are also exposed to attacks by other applications or through mobile internet usage. Do not trust user input, neither on the application nor on the server. It is important to validate input data to avoid various types of attacks.

Server-side controls vulnerabilities include these factors:

  • Rush to market.
  • Lack of security knowledge because of the new languages.
  • Easy access to structures that do not prioritize security.
  • Lower security budgets for mobile applications.
  • Assumption that the mobile operating system takes full responsibility for security.
  • Weakness due to cross-platform development and compilation.
  1. Unintended data leakage

When sensitive information is placed by mistake in an easily accessible location on the mobile device by malicious apps. In this situation the data is in serious risk of being leaked.

Mobile internet usage has surpassed desktop internet usage, which make mobile devices even more attractive to scammers and cybercriminals.  For this reason, developers have to protect mobile apps even more, the most effective way to achieve this is by validating the following points:

  • Validate all inputs, type, syntax, before data is displayed, or stored.
  • Reject invalid entry rather than attempting to check potentially hostile data.
  • Be careful with error messages, they may also include invalid data.
  • Use strongly typed query APIs with placeholder substituents.
  • Pay attention when connecting to the database or other support systems.
  • Avoid detailed error messages that are useful to hackers.
  • Use stored procedures since they are generally safe against SQL injection.
  • Do not use dynamic query interfaces.
  • Do not use simple escape functions, they are weak and have been hacked.
  • Make sure your app does not decode the same input twice.
  1. Broken encryption

The biggest technology giants have paid special attention to cryptography. Apple, for example, uses Hardware Encryption (concept that uses the AES256 Algorithm) in the development of all its smartphones and iPads with iOS Version 5 or higher, ensuring robust protection against any attempts to intercept data stored on the device.

Do you want your app to rank among the most prestigious in the market? Then do not forget that encryption algorithms become obsolete relatively quickly. In addition, most of the apps require the insertion of personal data to purchase features. If your app does not use an encryption algorithm or uses weak keys, millions of users of your product may become victims of hackers.

  1. Unknown source codes

Developing a mobile app from scratch can be extremely time consuming so developers often attempt to make use of the huge amount of code on the web. However, be very careful, taking this shortcut can be expensive: many criminals create code and make it available hoping it will be used by some developer. This will give the hacker free access to all the information he needs after launching the app. Make sure you check the sources of the code that you are using.

Just remember that the main task of developers is to protect mobile applications!



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