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App Security with simple coding practices

A vast majority of online populace uses mobile/smartphones to perform online transactions of various kinds, like banking, shopping, purchases, etc., and this is only set to rise exponentially in coming times. Almost three-quarters of Internet traffic today comes through mobile platforms, and thus evidently is most susceptible to threats and attacks to steal sensitive information. Digital snoopers are encouraged by the fact that almost 75 percent of all mobile apps are vulnerable to cyber attacks.

This obviously does not present a rosy picture and requires urgent, concerted action on multiple fronts to deal with the omnipresent hacking threats and secure mobile apps by staying ahead of the curve. The good news is that a lot of these security loopholes can be plugged by following simple development-related protocols.

Secure your Codebase

Adopting a proactive approach is a sure shot way to handle threats and vulnerabilities of the mobile ecosystem. Imbibing the best practices in the codebase while developing the mobile app goes a long way in future-proofing your app. Benchmarking the app against the recommended broad impact solutions, instead of only patching the issues, should be enforced as a development culture, which will bear fruits in the long term. This proactive methodology also enables a proper understanding of the threat landscape and helps in minimizing risks. This is crucial for protecting critical data being used in-app, handle vulnerabilities quickly, and maintain customer trust.

In the contemporary time space of sophisticated cyber-attacks, along with app design, intuitiveness, and functionality, security should also be given prime focus during app development and quality analysis process. Though an application can never be called “100 percent secure”, still it does not take much effort and time to understand and implement certain bare minimum security features, which can act as a first-hand shield in the event of an attack. It is hard to miss the point here: A few optimal changes can really do a world of good for your app’s security, without negatively impacting your app’s performance metrics!

Some such practices which your development team can start implementing right away are listed below:

  1. Implement Code Obfuscation
    This is one of the most effective anti-reverse engineering technique, obscuring the functionality or logic flow in the app and thus reducing the exploitation area available to the hacker. Developers should prefer C/C++ over Java, as the former compiles to bytecode, which is harder to decipher. Debuggers and emulators should not be allowed to access processes and restrict attacker’s access to low-level runtime code.

  2. Proper Session Management and Data Encryption Techniques
    Ensure proper session management and authenticate each user on runtime before they can access the app’s core functionalities. Data encryption always helps in better management of sensitive data. Always see that secure communications happen over trusted sessions through network security and strong cryptographic algorithms, like AES-256.

  3. Integrate Crash Reporting Library with Codebase
    No app is free from unexpected crashes during development phase. Closely monitor the crash analytics and it them during the development cycle. This helps in evolving secure versions of your app. Apps laden with bugs are surely an open invitation for hackers to gain easy access to your app’s business-critical information and IP.

  4. Imbibe Anti-Tampering Techniques
    A pseudo, malicious namesake app with malwares can permanently damage a firm’s reputation and breach customers’ trust. Hence, it becomes essential to implement anti-tampering techniques and tamper detection mechanisms, which can go a long way in maintaining app integrity. Checksums should be used to prevent malicious app execution if the checksums do not match. Emulators/debuggers should be detected on runtime, and, if detected, the app should not execute.

  5. Internal Data Storage
    As far as possible, store private data in the internal storage of the device than in-app. This way other apps cannot access these files, nor can they be misused in the event of an attack.

  6. Cache Management
    Never cache sensitive data and be very cautious about cache management. Since any app having WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE permission can access cache content, it is important to be doubly sure what you cache and what you do not.

AppSealing + Secure Code Approach

AppSealing comes packaged with RASP and goes a long way in ensuring that your app is secured from high-end attacks and perfectly complements development practices enlisted above to imbibe end-to-end security in your apps. Exceptional situations demand comprehensive solutions. So, go ahead and start your free trial now to experience AppSealing’s magic firsthand!

Govindraj Basatwar
Govindraj Basatwar
Govindraj is a Global Sales Head for AppSealing at INKA Entworks. He keenly follows the innovation and development in cybersecurity, IT, content and application security, and software development, and loves to educate everyone about the what, why, and how of major incidents in the cybersecurity world. His views on industry trends and best practices have been featured in articles, white papers, and had been a keynote guest at multiple security events.

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