Mobile Application Security: Threats and Best Practices

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Mobile applications have become an important part of our life in the recent past. So, it is not a surprise that hackers are targeting mobile apps owing to the increased usage. Mobile applications have become a critical part of the organization’s online presence and many companies rely completely on these apps to connect with their users. This intensifies the need for a security check of the application to ensure smooth business operation and customer communication.

 

What is Mobile Application Security?

Mobile Application Security can be defined as a complete security solution for mobile applications running on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. It focuses on defending mobile applications from digital frauds and security threats like malware, hacking, etc.

 

Why Mobile Application Security is Important?

The number of mobile app downloads worldwide has increased by 77 billion in the last 4 years, according to a survey by Statista. More users than ever before are depending upon mobile apps for the majority of their digital tasks. An efficient mobile application can increase customer base, improve accessibility, boost brand popularity and enhance sales & revenue. Hence, it has become a critical need to check for the application security to identify and remediate the performance gaps in the product.

 

Commonly found Mobile Application Threats

  1. Insufficient authentication

Mobile app authentication is the process of verifying a user’s identity. It varies from simple passwords to fingerprint, voice recognition and even face recognition. Lack of strong authentication results in brute force attacks, key logger attacks and many more cyber threats.

  1. Poor Encryption

Encryption is the process of encoding or scrambling the data to ensure that only the authorized user can understand the information. Poor encryption is a common security issue that leads to the decryption of data by cybercriminals to steal information.

  1. Data leakage

Data leakage is the unauthorized or unintentional leakage of data that happens when the application data is stored in insecure locations. This leads to leaking of confidential information, data theft, corruption of data, etc. which in turn leads to loss of customer trust.

  1. Unsecured Network

Unsecured networks are those which lack proper authentication or antivirus/firewall protection and can be used by anyone. Doing any sensitive activities via an unsecured network might expose the user to malware or leads to unauthorized access to the device.

  1. Weak Server-side Controls

At most times, the developers do not give much importance to server-side security. You should always remember that the hackers might gain full access to the mobile and a weak server-side control helps them in code alteration and malware injection.

  1. Improper Session Handling

Session Management facilitates handling multiple requests or responses to a service/application from a user. Each session is authenticated using a session token which needs to be properly protected in order to avoid a session hijack stealing the conversation.

  1. Poor Code Quality

The quality of a code impacts the safety, security and reliability of the application. Poor quality codes are usually a result of improper coding standards and documentation. Having proper code regulation across the organization, along with sticking to good practices is important to reduce risks caused by code quality.

  1. Insecure Data Storage

Insecure storage of data like user credentials, cookies, application logs, transaction history, EMEI, etc. allows hackers or cybercriminals to steal sensitive information assets. Insecure data storage results in reputational damage, policy violation, identity theft and many more.

  1. Improper Platform Usage

Improper platform usage refers to the misuse of a platform’s feature by not abiding by the security controls. This is one of the most prevalent and easily exploitable vulnerabilities, through which a hacker can gain access to the mobile phone.

  1. Poor Transport Layer Protection

The transport layer is responsible for the end-to-end communication over a network. Insufficient transport layer protection is caused when an application does not take any required measures to protect network traffic, making the data and session ids exposed. These exposed data can be easily intercepted by hackers for exploitation.

  1. Client-side Injection

Client-side injection refers to local data injections that lead to unauthorized access of data within the device. This vulnerability aims to execute malicious code on the mobile device via the app, which in turn leads to denial of service, data corruption and even data loss.

  1. Security Decisions via Untrusted Inputs

Developers usually use hidden functionalities to distinguish between high-level and low-level users. Inappropriate or weak implementation of such functionalities leads to improper behavior of the app, which eventually causes granting of high-level permissions to the cybercriminals trying to exploit the vulnerability.

  1. Lack of Binary Protections

Binary protection shields the mobile app and takes precautions to prevent tampering of the app. Lack of binary protection results in modification and reverse engineering of the app. A hacker can then inject malware into the app or can even re-distribute an altered/pirated version of the application.

 

 

To conclude, we can say that the success of an app depends on its performance and security. It is imperative to ensure high-class security in your mobile applications to preserve them from potential hackers.

Follow the below given best practices to bring a seamless and secure user experience:

  1. Ensure that the code is secure
  2. Encrypt all the data
  3. Conduct security awareness training
  4. Test multiple times before launch
  5. Use higher level APIs
  6. Consult a security service provider to validate security

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