A Guide To Secure App Development
With over 2.6 million apps (according to Statista) on the Google Play Store alone, app security has never been more important. Protect your organisation against hackers and compromise by creating secure apps and cultivating development practices that keep security at the forefront.
When hackers strike, it isn’t just the security of your organisation that can take a hit. The public perception of your brand can too. When a hacker steals a user's data they may well place the blame squarely at the feet of the organisation that left their app open to attack.
Apps have long been targeted due to companies not prioritising secure app development. We’ve put this guide together to help you understand why app security is so important, and how to apply it so your app is as secure as possible.
With over 300 applications launched, you can rest assured that we can offer the expert help you need to build a secure app.
What Is App Security?
App security relates to the procedures and best practices your organisation puts in place to protect the data and code inside your app and prevent it from being stolen. It works to protect the app from cyber threats, and should be applied throughout all of the stages of your app’s development, including:
- And beyond.
By applying secure development measures, you can stay a step ahead of the hackers. Ensuring you or the app development team you work with build them directly into your app’s software makes it much more difficult for hackers to gain unauthorised access. This has the added benefit of improving your brand's public perception by making sure your users are not at risk of having their personal information accessed. It also keeps them safe before, during, and after using your app.
Why Is App Security Important?
84% of all cyber attacks happen at the application layer - so app security has never been more important. It isn’t surprising, given that apps are now connected to the cloud and various other networks, which means they’re vulnerable to even more security threats and breaches.
With so many companies not understanding the importance of app security, they’ve become the soft underbelly that hackers can target. As they become more prevalent in both the personal and corporate world, they become highly valuable for many of the same reasons your company might want to build one - they’re extremely rich in data.
Just some of the data hackers are able to find in a non-secure app include: a user's name, age, home address, and sometimes even their current location. It is therefore extremely important that you put in place procedures to counteract this. This could include:
- Application firewalls
- Encryption programmes
- Multi-factor and biometric authentication systems
- Antivirus programmes
It is especially important now that more and more employees (about 67% according to Techjury) are using the same devices for their professional and personal lives.
Application security can help identify weaknesses at any level; preventing hackers from targeting and accessing your users’ data and code. It also allows you to be preemptive rather than reactive, identifying and neutralising attacks before they can do any damage, or even stopping them from happening in the first place.
How To Create a Secure App: Top Things To Consider
So how can you ensure your app is secure? There are many things to consider when looking at ways you can protect your organisation. The top elements you need to think about are:
Secure your code
It may sound obvious, but bugs and vulnerabilities are the launchpad most hackers will use to access your app’s code and compromise your security. They do this by reverse engineering your code, which they’re able to do with the publicly available version of your app.
Ensure your code is impenetrable from the beginning of development, and test it rigorously to combat any bugs as they appear. Ensure that it is easy to update regularly, and hackers will have a harder time gaining access.
A great way to defend against hackers reverse engineering your code is by encrypting it. Encryption is achieved by scrambling the data so that it appears nonsensical to anyone who tries to read it, except by those who have access to the “key”.
If the app is also locked with a password or PIN, then it makes it very difficult for hackers to access anything. This is especially important when sensitive data is involved, because even if it is stolen, it’s almost impossible to read or interpret anything.
Testing your app is an important way to iron out the kinks in your code. Create randomly generated security scenarios and see how well your app holds up. These penetration tests are the best way to simulate what a hacker can access, without the risk of becoming compromised.
It’s important you don’t just do this during development. Continuously test your app and release patches and updates to your users as you identify and combat security concerns.
Credentials and signature-based permissions
If you're sharing data between two different apps owned by your organisation, then signature-based permissions should be used. The user does not have to do anything, but it allows the two apps to communicate that they are using the same signing key. They cannot exchange data if the signature is different. It offers a far more streamlined and secure experience for the user because it all happens in the background.
Credentials should be used alongside this. When a user needs or requests access to sensitive data, they should need to give a PIN, pattern, or password. Alternatively, the user could use fingerprint or facial recognition software. Any form of authentication will do.
Are Apps More Secure Than Websites?
Apps, in general, tend to collect more user data than websites do - be that biometric data or personal user information such as their name and current location. Without secure development they are also more likely to be accessible by hackers. Anyone can download, access, and inspect their code, whereas websites never release theirs publicly.
App users are also essentially the administrators. Where a website is run by an organisation that is able to ensure updates and patches are rolled out when needed, an app user can just ignore them.
Therefore, secure app development is incredibly important. At ADASTRA·ONE we understand this - and with every app we’ve worked on, security has always been a priority.
Reach out to us today, and find out how we can help you cultivate secure development practices.