As of today, there are over 6.5 billion smartphone users in the world. With that much of a market share, you would think that security for the mobile platform would be top-notch, but that’s not always the case. Such is the depth of our integration with mobile devices that a single lapse in security in one’s device can give cybercriminals access to sensitive information ranging from our address, banking information, and even one’s precise location. This blog will discuss why mobile platform security is not always up to par, what we can do to remedy the situation, and what the future holds for this field.
Mobile Platform Security
Smartphones are becoming incredibly complex, so much so that today, they offer almost the same functionalities as PCs. They are constantly connected to the internet and an ever-increasing suite of new apps. They have an extensive feature list that needs access to nearly all its components to function properly. In recent years, cybercriminals have upped their game and have delivered a ware of highly sophisticated and coordinated cyberattacks.
Current Threats to Mobile Platform Security
Cyber threats on mobile platforms can broadly be classified into four major categories:
- Malicious mobile applications
- Mobile network-based threats
- Web-based threats
- Mobile device-related threats
The following are the threats that are increasing at an alarming rate today:
- Malware: Malware is one of the most common security threats today. These come in various forms.
- Spyware: This software invades your device, remains undetected, and attempts to steal sensitive data
- Ransomware: These are designed to encrypt your files and block access to them until a ransom is paid, often with a deadline post in which your data will be erased.
- Rootkits: Rootkits are designed to enable users to gain access to your devices while remaining undetected
- End-to-end encryption gaps: Unencrypted Wifi applications or services give cybercriminals a point of access to all your information. This is a significant reason why most organizations have closed networks.
- Internet of Things (IoT) Devices: Today, it is not just mobile devices that can let cybercriminals gain access to your information. Your mobile devices are connected to wearables, smart home devices, and other physical devices. These devices have IP addresses, which can quickly enter your systems.
- Lost or stolen devices: These are the easier way for cybercriminals to access all your sensitive information since they have direct access to the hardware where all your data is stored.
Misconceptions about Mobile Platform Security
Developing a mobile application requires a completely different approach than testing for mobile app security flaws. It’s important to understand the distinction between the two so that you can ensure your app is secure before it’s released to the public.
As of today, Android and IOS offer a ton of security features. App permissions, Biometric security and secured storage, apps that encrypt data, and so on. On the surface, these are enough to lure you into a false sense of security.
Yes, these features go a long way in keeping your devices secure, but if you dive deeper, you will realize that all these security features put the burden of protection on the end user.
At the same time, the apps themselves can have security loopholes, riding high on following common myths about mobile app security.
- Developers know inside out of clean and bug-free code: Good to know but what about data at rest or data in transition, frequency of pentests, or dynamic security testing etc.? If security is not by design, your developer needs to rethink his ‘bug-free’ code.
- App stores provide a secure trusted safe application: The Google and Apple app stores are known for their safety and security measures, but the irony is that it means only for guidelines and API compliance. An app’s technical dynamics, frameworks, library and functionality etc are key drivers of your responsibilities.
- ‘Robust’ framework means robust security layer: Unfortunately, no. A framework cant guarantee that it would secure your app from let’s say a specific language or vulnerability in a 3rd party library. How you use and/or implement security is what matters the most.
As mobile app developers, the onus is to ensure that your apps are developed with the best safety practices available today.
Best Practices for Mobile Platform Security
Write secure code
Write highly secure code, and test for bugs and vulnerabilities. Make your code challenging to reverse engineer. Secure codes form the bulwark of a robust OS, such as iOS, etc., which provides an impressive degree of security to these devices.
Encrypt all data
Employ encryption wherever possible. If the data is stolen, it cannot be misused unless the cybercriminals have the decryption key.
Use high-level authentication
As a developer, design your apps to accept strong passwords, biometric security, or multifactor authentication.
Be minimalistic with app privileges
A well-designed and secure app should only need relevant permissions. You should uninstall these apps if specific applications desire permissions to secure personal data such as your contacts, etc., even when not required.
Employ tamper-detection techniques
Use anti-tampering and tamper-detection techniques in your code. Minimize code tampering.
Perform Penetration Testing
Test your code for any vulnerabilities to injection attacks. Ensure you have covered all your bases.
Mobile platform security has become a big deal in recent years, and it’s not hard to see why. Security measures shouldn’t be forgotten as the average person becomes more reliant on mobile devices and services.
Clearly, developers have their work cut out for them, and creating more secure apps is essential―but it’s also critical that we give users tools to help protect themselves as well.
Mobile devices will only continue to become a more integral part of our lives, and we must supply people with the tools they need to protect themselves in the ever-evolving digital world.
How Appsealing helps?
AppSealing is the go-to-market app security solution to protect mobile apps without writing a single line of code. A mobile app security platform that doesn’t require coding, and it not only stops cyberattacks on mobile apps but also records data on all hacking attempts.
The mobile app security platform helps iOS and Android app developers make more informed decisions and comes with RASP features to protect Android and iOS applications in real-time. Other key features are:
- Code Protection
- Integrity protection
- Anti-debugging & anti-decompile
- Anti-memory dump
- Memory access detection
- Rooting detection/Jailbreak detection
- Android emulator detection
- Cheat tool detection
- Network packet sniffing/spoofing detection