Secure Mobile apps should be a top priority for every mobile app developer. While security is often overlooked in mobile app design, every developer believes their app is most secure, and at the same time are afraid someone is going to hack their mobile app platform.
In either case, as a mobile app developer we need to ensure that adequate precautions are programmed, sufficient vulnerability testing for mobile app is performed and allow security to be an integral part of the design. Here are some simple and yet highly useful steps to follow.
To give you some context, many of the below items are essential for HIPAA compliance and SAX/PCI compliance.
Step 1: Make mobile security an integral part of your design. Think wholistic end-to-end mobile security, starting from the user to the backend infrastructure. Consider authentication, password complexity, data transmission, data storage, data processing, third-party integration, storage of images, videos, documents and infrastructure setup.
Step 2: Authentication and password complexity protects your mobile app at the end-user level. This makes the process easier for users while making sure there are no loop-holes if a device is being used. If critical data is not protected, devices can be lost.
Step 3: Storing data including username and passwords locally on the device. This is a situation that seems so easy to overlook while being the easiest to protect. Make sure authentication credentials are stored in either “Device KeyChain” or “Managed Storage.” Both these methods encrypt critical information when they are stored on mobile devices. For other app data, determine if they need to be encrypted before being stored locally.
Step 4: Sending data back and forth from the server aka mobile transport layer needs to be fully secure. The easiest way to achieve this is to setup https (secure http) using a SSL certificate. Make sure the certificate is properly created covering all ciphers schemes.
Step 5: Server side code vulnerabilities are one of the easiest to make but very difficult to find. You need specialized vulnerability tools to identify and fix such issues.
Step 6: Data storage is probably already secure. The best way to secure data is to encrypt it during storage. This is called data-at-rest encryption. This increases the server resource requirements in order to encrypt and decrypt at run-time. But it’s still worth it.
Step 7: This is the one area that involves people and therefore most risky if you don’t have good procedures. All admin credentials need to be changed at periodic intervals. When an employee leaves, make sure to delete their credentials. And finally document all processes.
If you follow these seven steps, you can stop the hack or at least greatly reduce your chances of getting hacked.
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