It should not be a surprise that nowadays, in a world full of technological innovations, mobile apps are targeted by hackers, given their rapid adoption and increased use globally.

While the number of mobile app threats will inevitably increase, incorporating mobile app security into your strategy is key to protecting your users and the trust you’ve created.

Read more about the threats facing mobile app security and learn how to protect your product.

How hackers act

From accessing the microphone, camera, and location of a user ‘s mobile device, to developing realistic app clones — there are many techniques hackers use to obtain access to and manipulate the personal details of unaware mobile app users.

Here are some of the most common mobile app security threats, you should be aware of

Lack of multi-factor authentication

Let’s face it! Many of us are guilty of using the same password across several accounts, that’s why if a user’s password was compromised at a different company, hackers will test passwords on other apps, which can result in an attack on your company, too.

An additional layer of authentication can be the answer to a personal question or an SMS confirmation code.

Failure to encrypt properly

Encryption is the method of transferring data into an unreadable code that is only readable after the hidden key has been re-translated. In other words, encryption changes a combination lock sequence but be careful, attackers are talented at opening locks.

This common security vulnerability can have major repercussions including intellectual property theft, code theft, privacy violations, and reputational damage, just to name a few.

Reverse engineering

A large amount of metadata provided in the code planned for debugging also lets a cyber-criminal understand how the mobile app functions.

Reverse engineering can be used to expose how the back-end software works, reveal encryption algorithms, modify the source code, and more. Your code can be used against you and leave the way free for attackers.

Exposure to malicious code injection

User-generated content (such as forms and comments) may sometimes be underestimated for its potential threat to the security of a mobile application.

If an unauthorized attacker inserts a JavaScript line into a form of login that does not secure against characters such as the equal sign or colon (common in JavaScript), they can easily obtain personal data.

Data storage

Unprotected storage of data within your application can occur in several places: SQL databases, cookie stores, binary data stores, and more.

When a hacker gains access to a device or database, the legitimate software can be altered to redirect information to its devices.

Best practices – how to secure your mobile application

Opt for server-side authentication

If your application requires data to be stored on the client-side and accessible on the mobile device, then ensure that encrypted data can only be accessed after the credentials have been checked properly.

Be careful not to hold password data on the system and generate specific authentication codes for specific systems while using persistent encryption – or a “remember me” feature.

Multi-Factor Authentication adds an extra layer of security when a user logs into an app.

Use powerful encryption algorithms

One technique to fight against vulnerabilities associated with encryption is to avoid storing personal information on a mobile device. It involves hard-coded keys and passwords that could be made accessible in plain text or used for server access by an intruder.

Also, keep in mind that you should not create your encryption protocols, especially if you’re not an expert in security.

Developers should use the latest encryption standards and APIs.

Enforce session log-out

Most of the time, users forget to log out of the app. This practice can be dangerous especially if it’s a banking app or a payment app.

Developers should implement a session log-outs, even though you consider your users to be highly educated about this kind of stuff.

Penetration testing

Penetration testing is done to verify security vulnerabilities in a mobile app. This helps to detect possible vulnerabilities that could be exploited by an attacker and compromise the security of the final application.

This involves searching for poor password rules, unsecured files, third-party device permissions, no password expiry policy, etc.

The security team decides whether there’s any vulnerability in the device by replicating the actions of a possible hacker.

To maintain the app safely, it is recommended that penetration testing is conducted regularly. White box testing and black box testing are other forms of penetration testing procedures that can be carried out to search for security risks.

Limit user privileges

The more permissions a user gets, the more are the chances of risking a mobile app’s security. If a user with a significant amount of privileges (such as privileges to read SMS or DCIM folders ) is hacked, attackers can do an unbelievable level of damage to your mobile application.

Session management

Mobile app sessions last a lot longer compared to desktops. That increases the load on the server.

A more convenient alternative is to use tokens instead of device identifiers. Tokens can be canceled whenever desired, and are safer in the event of a mobile device is lost or stolen.

Developers can take session expiration as an option as well. Therefore, allowing automated deletion of data for missing and stolen devices is a good security choice to keep in the system.

Test the app regularly

Securing a mobile app does not constitute a one-time process. Every day new risks arise and updates are needed to mitigate various threats before they can do any harm to the user’s device.

Enable HTTPS communication

This stands for Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol. HTTPS provides data encryption while the data is transferred over a network.

Developers must ensure that the app is linked to a valid SSL certificate on the server, and transfer data between the device and the server using the HTTPS protocol only.

Encrypt cache

The cache is a software element that saves the data temporarily on the user’s device. This is used to limit the delay in data retrieval.

Attackers can easily access data stored in cache if it is not encrypted. Often, the app does not remove its data after a session ends, and the cache does not expire. If those cache files get into the wrong hands, hackers can manipulate it to access user data or the server.

Code obfuscation

Opting for code obfuscation is one of the easiest strategies to prevent a mobile app from being hacked. It’s an act of making a code that’s hard to understand by hackers.

This method has become widely known and is used to protect the code from attacks. Obfuscators are used to translate computer code automatically to a language that humans can not understand

Custom software development

Custom software is more secure than out-of-the-box software. A custom-made software is only used by the development team, that’s why the chances of intrusion are minimized.

Custom software offers absolute control over the implementation of security technologies or standards into your mobile application.

Let’s not mention that even though developing custom software for your mobile application may seem expensive, it will prove to be beneficial and cost-effective in the long run.

Ready to invest in your mobile app security?

We’ve covered some of the most common mobile app security threats and best practices to fight against them. In the end, the companies should recognize that the importance of security for mobile apps goes beyond consumer protection and affects the brand’s overall credibility and should invest in it.

Take the time to periodically test your apps for vulnerabilities, never rush development or patches, and monitor malware and mobile app news to stay in-the-know of the most current threats.

Ready to invest in your mobile app security? Find your solution with WebChain and contact us!

Start delivering quality software on time.