A large portion of our professional lives revolve around mobile devices, which are now equipped with functionalities that allow us to work on-the-go. When dealing with business on a mobile phone, it’s normal that sensitive information will be passed from device to device. As such, mobile app security features are one of the most important elements to consider when developing an app.
It’s quite risky to develop an app with security flaws. From harming your reputation to lawsuits to a market share loss, failing to consider iron-clad security features from day one can be problematic. Additionally, the development timeframe can be extended considerably if security isn’t a priority from the beginning, costing companies additional time and resources. So, what are the essential mobile app security features you should include?
Prioritize Security from the Start
Simply put, companies should make security a top priority from the beginning. Failing to consider security early on can result in additional debugging and a costly reverse engineering plan later in the game.
Every phase of development should include security considerations, with at least one person overseeing the app’s security checklist. Attempting to add security features retroactively can harm the other main elements of the app, such as the interface and the app’s overall performance, so be proactive. And when putting together a checklist of key security features, encryption should be at the top of the list.
Must-Have Mobile App Feature: SSL Encryption
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is the best form of encryption for mobile devices that share data, and ensuring your app’s SSL is up to date with the latest encryption techniques will go a long way in guaranteeing the quality of your app. This is especially true if your users are accessing public networks, which are often unsecured. SSL can mean the difference between protecting the data of your customers and getting hit with a data breach.
SSL protects data as it is being transferred from clients to servers in order to avoid privacy breaches. If properly executed, the technology will limit the functionalities from the client side, thereby steering clear of common security risks. In fact, SevenTablets developed a platform called Brigade which uses 4096-bit SSL encryption, the highest level of SSL encryption currently on the market.
Essential App Feature: Source Code Encryption
In addition to encrypting the data that gets transferred from device to device, encryption should also be used to protect an app’s source code. Malware is becoming more sophisticated and successful at prying open vulnerabilities in the code and design of the mobile applications they target. This means attackers can retrieve a public copy of an app and reverse-engineer it.
Hackers can then use this data to ransack and re-publish your app as a “rogue app” with malicious code. These rogue apps then pop up on third-party app stores to steal the data of users who download the fake apps. It’s a major security concern, so work with your developer to create tools to ensure your app cannot be reverse engineered by third parties.
Ensure Your App Secures the Mobile Device
Mobile apps can have all the best security features in place to protect them from hackers, but a jailbroken phone may have weaker security functionalities, giving hackers a way to access these devices and the data within the app. Therefore, talk with your developer about establishing security measures to ensure your app can’t be used on jailbroken phones.
It’s also wise to ensure that none of your users’ data from the app is stored on their devices. Instead, users’ data should be encrypted in either a main database or a series of databases to avoid data breaches. Implementing blockchain technology can go a long way in preventing such incidents.
When sensitive data is revealed, mask the data as needed, showing only the last four digits of a credit card or Social Security number. With Brigade, you can set your messages to expire after a certain time to protect data, while allowing users to read images for a limited period of time and only in secure locations. Blocking images and messages in public places can also protect users from phishing scams in the form of malicious links.
Integrating Multi-Factor Authentication in a Mobile App
Strong authentication measures are essential to ensuring an app’s security. Consider a variety of factors when selecting authentication methods, including privacy, managing the length of a session before logging someone out, identity management and device security features.
With the sophisticated security threats currently out there, multi-factor authentication is necessary. Multi-factor authentication adds a second, third and sometimes fourth layer of authentication by sending a numerical code to an account owner’s phone or email, requiring the user to answer security questions or calling their personal device to confirm their identity. Biometric authentication is another high-tech option which greatly improves login security.
Brigade has security features to ensure proper authentication is used whenever logging into devices. The platform takes a secret photo if someone is attempting to access an account multiple times. It then emails the photo to the account owner, letting the user know that someone other than themselves is trying to enter their account. Consider such extra layers of security to protect users while also enhancing the reputation of your app.
Debugging Code for Mobile Applications
Last but not least, establish a strong code debugging strategy, as platforms such as Android user interface frameworks can be difficult to debug without the right tools. Instead of debugging during the production stage, take care of your app’s debugging needs throughout development.
Tools such as the Mobile System Information Collector (SIC) are useful for debugging Android platforms since it collects system logs and other device information. This data can help developers identify the root causes of issues and come up with the right solution.
Ensuring that an app has all the necessary security measures in place is no easy task, but it is a necessary step when developing an app. By keeping an app’s security in mind throughout the process, you can develop secure apps that protect both your users and your company. With features such as encryption and authentication, you can ensure an app’s security without sacrificing functionality or user experience.
If you’re hoping to develop a new mobile app, you will need a developer with the talent to help you achieve your goals. The team at SevenTablets is equipped to develop custom mobile apps with the latest cutting-edge security features. We are also well-versed in a score of emerging technologies, including augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, blockchain and natural language processing.