13 Essential Mobile App Security Best Practices to Safeguard Your Users and Data
October 18, 2023
In the world of mobile app development, ensuring robust security is not an option—it's a necessity. Malicious actors are constantly on the lookout for vulnerabilities to exploit, and data breaches can have far-reaching consequences for both your customers and your company's reputation. By adhering to mobile app security best practices, you can launch a successful mobile app that safeguards user data and instills trust. In this blog, we'll delve into the top 13 security best practices that developers can adopt to minimize security flaws and protect their mobile apps against potential breaches.
Mobile app security begins with encrypting your source code. This measure prevents unauthorized access and modifications that can lead to reverse engineering attacks or security vulnerabilities. Encrypting your source code makes it unreadable to attackers, thereby bolstering security. Additionally, consider digitally signing your source code during the development process, which is also considered a best practice.
To validate the authenticity of your code, employ a code-signing certificate. This certificate involves digitally signing your code with a private key, accompanied by a public key for users to verify. It assures users that your mobile app is genuine, trusted, and hasn't been tampered with. Keep in mind that code-signing certificates have limited validity (usually one to three years), so remember to renew them regularly.
Mobile apps often store unstructured data in local file systems or device databases. Attackers may gain access to the sandbox environment without encryption, which poses a serious security concern. Implement data encryption for this stored data, reducing your vulnerability. Whether you choose to use SQLite Database Encryption Modules or file-level encryption across platforms, ensure that all sensitive data is encrypted before storage. Regularly update to the latest cryptographic techniques and conduct penetration testing to ensure robust security.
To bolster mobile app security, opt for the latest encryption algorithms. Attackers often target older encryption versions, making the use of up-to-date algorithms crucial. A popular choice is the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), which offers symmetric key encryption. It's available in various strengths, such as 512-bit, and 256-bit encryption, and SHA-256 for hashing, providing an extra layer of security.
Conducting thorough penetration testing is vital for identifying and resolving security flaws in your mobile app. A security breach involving sensitive customer data or company intellectual property could have devastating consequences. Regular penetration testing allows you to rectify security bugs before they compromise your mobile app. Consider entrusting this crucial task to experts like NowSecure, a leading provider of reliable penetration testing services.
Data sent from mobile devices to server-side endpoints is susceptible to interception by attackers. Implement security measures for data in transit, such as Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Certificate Pinning. TLS encrypts data using public key cryptography during transmission, preventing data access during transit. Certificate Pinning verifies that a digital certificate corresponds to the claimed domain name. Choose the method that suits your app's needs and data sensitivity, considering potential security issues.
When integrating third-party services into your mobile app, ensure you utilize authorized APIs. Unauthorized APIs can inadvertently grant attackers privileges and expose your data to risk. Using unauthorized APIs can also lead to app rejection and removal from app stores. Adhere to platform guidelines for authorized APIs to maximize security and compliance.
With multiple users accessing your mobile app, establishing robust authentication methods is essential. Consider options like updating strong alphanumeric passwords every few months, implementing multi-factor authentication, or even incorporating biometric authentication. Regularly review your authentication methods and adapt as necessary to maintain your app's security.
Your mobile app's sensitive data resides in the backend, making its security crucial. Encrypt all data at rest to prevent unauthorized access even if the backend is compromised. Ensure that your APIs are compatible with the mobile operating system, and implement high-level authentication to safeguard sensitive data and functionality.
While third-party libraries can expedite development, they may introduce security risks if they contain undiscovered vulnerabilities. Ensure you use code from trusted sources, such as controlled internal repositories. Implement policy controls during acquisition to mitigate risks associated with third-party code. Deploy tamper detection to alert you to any unauthorized modifications or malicious code injection.
Tamper detection mechanisms can notify you of unauthorized code modifications or malicious code injections. These mechanisms can render the code nonfunctional if tampered with, making it challenging for attackers to exploit. Checksums, digital signatures, and code obfuscation are typical techniques.
Minimize the storage of sensitive data whenever possible. If you must store sensitive data, avoid local storage on the device itself. Consider using encrypted data containers or keychains and implement an auto-delete feature to erase sensitive data when it's no longer needed.
Mobile app security is an ongoing commitment. As new threats emerge, new solutions are required. Prioritizing ongoing security is a significant differentiator for success. Investing in a comprehensive mobile app testing solution can automate testing within the CI/CD process, ensuring constant vigilance against evolving threats and expediting your app's journey from development to market.
NowSecure offers top-tier mobile app security automation, and we provide a free security assessment to support apps like yours in their pursuit of security excellence.