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8 Tips for Making User Security Your Number One Priority During Development

Image by Vlada Karpovich

You have a concept for your app, but that is just the beginning. Now you have to do the hard work to develop the app and bring that concept to reality. While it is important to focus on things like including useful features and developing a good app UI, it can’t be at the expense of mobile app security.

The average mobile phone has all sorts of sensitive information on it and one breach could cause a lot of damage.

With so much on the line, mobile app developers need to make security a priority when they take on Android or iPhone app development projects. With the following tips, you can build a more secure app to protect your customers and clients.

Mobile app developers need to make security a priority.

1. Integrate Encryption

All user data should be encrypted. Whether it is data that is stored on the device, data in transit or data that is being used by the application, it needs to be protected. With encryption, the data gets scrambled to make it unusable by any person or device that does not have the key. When you use encryption, it means that even if data is stolen from your app, it won’t be of any use to cybercriminals.

2. Secure Code

The code is one of the first places a hacker will look to attack. Once they have a copy of your app, they will try to reverse engineer the code to see if they can find any bugs or vulnerabilities they can exploit. Test your app against different types of attacks and use code hardening. You should also make it easy to update and patch your code so you can address threats as they are identified.

3 - Strong Authentication

User credentials can be one of the biggest vulnerabilities for an app. Design your apps to only accept strong passwords. That means setting a minimum character length for passwords, requiring letters, numbers and symbols and a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters. You could also consider multifactor authentication for an added level of security.

4 - Be Careful With Libraries

Code libraries can be useful, but they may lack security. If you are using a third-party code library, you need to be careful and test the code before using it in your apps. Otherwise, you might insert a vulnerability into your app without realizing it.

5. Limit Privileges

Your app should only request the privileges it needs to function. With more privileges, there is more potential for your app to expose a user’s information. If you don’t need location data or access to the user’s contacts, it shouldn’t be in the list of privileges the app needs. Make a list of the necessary privileges and stick to those when you design the app.

6. Be Aware of Emerging Risks

Once a vulnerability is found in one app, cybercriminals often try to see if they can use the same type of attack on other apps. Try to stay aware of the latest attacks and threats that are out there. If you hear of a new vulnerability that exists, review your app to see if it could be a problem.

7. Anti-Tamper Techniques

If a cybercriminal can reverse engineer your app, they might try to insert malicious code that will allow them to steal user information. Various anti-tamper techniques can be used to do things like make it so the app won’t run with modified code or wipe the user information if it detects tampering.

8. Session Handling

Instead of device identifiers, use tokens to identify a session. Since a token can be revoked at any time, it will make the app more secure if the device is lost or stolen. You should also allow remote log-off and data wiping to protect against lost or stolen devices.

Securing your app is a process that you have to keep working on. New threats can put your app at risk, so you need to keep your eye on mobile app security. Use threat modeling and penetration testing to find new vulnerabilities and issue updates and patches when new issues are identified.

Blue Label Labs builds products. They’re a 64-person mobile, tablet, watch, TV, AR/VR, IoT and web design, development and marketing agency based in New York City, Seattle and San Francisco. Contact them for all things from initial digital product strategy, design and development through app marketing/PR and post-launch maintenance.