Mobile apps now consume the highest time people spend on digital media platforms. People check their smartphones more often than interacting with any other platform. Every business, irrespective of size and niche, is after building its own branded app.
Just in sync with this overwhelming popularity, security vulnerabilities for mobile apps are also increasing incessantly. No doubt, the app creation company of the future by taking the lesson of leading apps should consider these vulnerabilities and use appropriate safeguards.
Let’s have a quick look at the critical vulnerabilities mobile app projects suffer from.
Poor Server-Side Controls
All the weaknesses and vulnerabilities outside of the mobile device refer to this threat. Since the vast majority of mobile apps perform by relying on remote servers, the same security threats that traditional web apps frequently suffer from can make mobile apps suffer as well.
Some of the most common issues corresponding to poor server-side control include the following.
- Poor knowledge on security best practices and implementation
- Rushing to launch the app and release updates without setting things right for app security.
- Relying on frameworks and tools not optimised for security
- Only relying on security protections offered by the mobile operating system
- Lack of efficiency for integrating the right tools and not following ideal practices for cross-platform development
The most important way to address this security shortcoming is to carry out in-depth scanning of the mobile app and find all the security loopholes found during development. At the same time, you should follow secure coding standards and best development practices.
Unsafe Data Storage
Since mobile apps are now frequently used for carrying out all sorts of financial transactions, people store their sensitive and vulnerable information, such as baking data, locally in mobile apps. When such sensitive information is stored locally in the device, it remains exposed to a wide range of security threats and risks.
The security risks corresponding to local device-level data storage can lead to issues such as the below ones.
- A data breach can lead to theft of user credentials or identity
- Fraudulent transactions
- Damaged brand reputation
- The severe strain on customer relationship
The most important remedy to address this security vulnerability is to avoid storing data locally as much as possible and only going for local storage when it is necessary.
Non-validated user inputs
Every app needs to validate user inputs to make sure no bot used any stealthy code to penetrate the app. Improper inputs can lead to complete malfunction of the app. Without ensuring properly formed inputs, you can only expose the app to chances of malfunctioning and code injection.
In most cases, validation of inputs should occur instantly whenever a user types any input or any data input from associates or partners, third-party vendors, suppliers, or regulators.
Some of the most effective ways to check wrong inputs include restricting the value range for obvious or nearly apparent numerical inputs such as dates, length of words, validating inputs against XML and JSON Schema, allowing various
permitted values for string parameters of small length, etc.
Flaws in-app code
Flaws or undetected errors in-app code is very common and is often responsible for severe security risks. This can be of various issues ranging from code injection to weak protection for data storage to weak data encryption to several other security issues.
To prevent flaws with coding, you must first adhere to best coding practices, creating no scope for security vulnerabilities. There are good security automation tools that can help you find instances of memory leaks and buffer overflows resulting from flawed static analysis by third-party tools. It is also advisable to hire experts who are capable of in-depth static analysis.
Under-optimized Authentication and Authorization
The absence of optimised user authentication and authorisation can quickly put app security at risk. For mobile apps, user authentication can be a lot different from what works well with the web. Because of uptime requirements, mobile apps often need to accommodate authentication offline, and this is where security risks are accumulated.
There are too many effective ways to deal with this security issue. Protecting authentication data with strong encryption, following stringent roles and fixed permissions for data access and using multi-factor authentication are some of the key measures to optimise and enhance authentication and authorisation.
Weak Transport Layer Protection (TLS)
When data is transported between the server and the client-side, attackers take advantage of a poor security layer for this data transport that leads to security violations, data breaches and other security risks.
It’s important to Transport Layer Protection for app security. It is relatively easier if you opt for stronger TLS solutions from trusted sources.
Poor Session Handling
Since most apps try to elongate the user sessions to ensure the least friction in the process leading to business conversion or driving loyalty, such long and unperturbed sessions also put the data security at risk. This is why banking apps use short sessions, and users need to log in again after a few seconds of inactivity.
Any app dealing with sensitive data such as financial and transaction information should make configuration changes with the session timeouts. The session timeout for the Login Server should have a lesser value than the session timeout on the server-side.
Attackers use reverse engineering to find how an app is structured and its functions on the back end. Through reverse engineering, they can change the source code and unveil the encryption with app algorithms. Unveiling all these security safeguards can harm your app in unprecedented ways.
The most effective way to prevent reverse engineering is to reduce client-side features and capabilities and rely more on the server-side. It is also essential to prevent access to API keys, resource folders, or other assets.
All these security vulnerabilities listed above provide a solid glimpse of the threats that most apps need to dodge. Understanding each of these security risks in detail is essential for app developers.