Ways to Build a Secure Mobile App is essential in today’s age where apps have become an integral part of our daily lives. With the widespread use of mobile devices, it has become imperative for developers and application designers to ensure security to protect users’ personal information and sensitive data.
10 Ways to Build a Secure Mobile App
Data encryption is the process of converting data from its original form into an unreadable form using an encryption key. This is intended to protect and ensure data’s safety and privacy from unauthorized access.
There are two main types of encryption: symmetric encryption and asymmetric encryption.
Symmetric Encryption: The same key is used to encrypt and decrypt data. The benefit is that it is fast and efficient, but if the key is compromised, all data can be decrypted. Examples ofAlgorithms Analog encryption includes: AES, DES, and 3DES.
Asymmetric Encryption: It uses two different keys. A public key for encryption and a private key for decryption. This type of encryption is more secure because the person encrypting with the public key cannot decrypt it with that same key. Examples ofAlgorithms Asymmetric encryption includes: RSA, DSA, and ECC.
Some considerations when using encryption:
Keys: Protecting and keeping keys secure is an essential part of data security. If the key is lost or compromised, the encrypted data may be at risk.
Key management: On large systems, advanced key management may be required, which ensures that keys are stored, distributed, and renewed in a secure manner.
Performance: Encoder and decoder may they consume System resources, so performance must be considered when encryption is used in data-intensive applications.
Server side check:
Server-side validation is an essential part of your security strategy when building web or mobile applications that interact with data servers. Instead of relying solely on client-side validation, data sent to the server must also be validated on the server-side.
Reasons why server-side validation is important:
Double verification: Even if verification is bypassed on the client side (which is easily possible), the server can be the last shield to ensure data security.
Injection attacks: Unsecured servers are vulnerable to attacks such as SQL Injection, where attackers can insert or execute unwanted commands into the database. Server-side verification can detect and resist these attacks.
Request tampering: Attackers may attempt to modify requests sent to the server in ways intended to obtain data or bypass security. Server-side verification can limit these threats.
Authentication and authorization: verifying the authenticity of the identity and ensuring that the user has the appropriate permissions to access the specified data or functionality.
Data Validation: Ensures that the data being sent to the server meets required criteria, such as validating an email format or phone number.
To implement server-side validation effectively, you must follow these steps:
Input filtering: Use whitelists to allow only certain types of data.
Use database security settings: Use pre-made queries and avoid dynamic techniques.
Restrict access: Only authorized persons should be able to access APIs or other server interfaces.
Use strong authentication mechanisms, such as multi-factor authentication.
Event Logging: Log all requests and responses to track suspicious activity.
HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is a continuation of HTTP, but is enhanced by the SSL/TLS security layer, which provides encryption and authentication to make sure data is secure in transit between the browser and the server. Using HTTPS is the industry standard for modern websites and apps, and is essential to maintaining data security and user privacy.
Key benefits of using HTTPS:
Encryption: Data sent between the user and the server is encrypted, making it unreadable if intercepted by third parties.
Authentication: HTTPS ensures that the user is interacting with the correct server and not with a fake server. This reduces the risk of Man-in-the-Middle attacks.
Integrity: Ensures that the data exchanged between the browser and the server is not modified or corrupted in transit.
User trust: Visitors or users tend to trust more HTTPS sites, especially when providing sensitive information such as credit card details.
Steps to implement HTTPS in your site or app:
Obtain an SSL/TLS certificate: These certificates can be purchased from a trusted issuer, or obtained for free from services such as Let’s Encrypt.
Install the certificate on the server: The installation process varies depending on the type of server and the operating system used.
Configuring the server to use HTTPS: This involves routing traditional HTTP requests to HTTPS.
Test the encrypted connection: After installation, you must make sure that the encryption is working properly and that the certificate is recognized.
Renew the certificate regularly: Certificates have a limited validity period, so you must ensure that they are renewed before it expires.
Update frameworks and libraries
Updating frameworks and libraries is an essential step in keeping applications secure and performing efficiently. Many updates come with security patches, performance improvements, and new features.
Importance of updating frameworks and libraries:
Security Patches: Many updates contain fixes for discovered security vulnerabilities.
Performance improvements: Updates may bring performance improvements that make the app faster and more stable.
New features: New versions of frameworks and libraries may contain new programming interfaces or features that help developers.
Compatibility: Updates may ensure better compatibility with new operating systems or technologies.
Recommended steps when updating frameworks and libraries:
Read the update documentation: Before updating, you should read the documentation for changes and possible impacts on the application.
Take a backup: Before any update, you should take a backup of the application to ensure easy reverting in case of problems.
Testing the application after the update: After the update, the application should be thoroughly tested to ensure that everything works correctly.
Stay in touch with the developer community: Follow the forums and groups that specialize in the frameworks and libraries you use to get the latest information and tips.
Limiting permissions is an important security principle when designing and implementing applications, especially applications that handle sensitive data or provide interactive interfaces with the system or with databases.
The main goal of the privilege limitation principle is to ensure that each component, user, or application has only the permissions it needs to perform its function, and nothing more.
The main advantages of limiting powers:
Data Protection: Reducing application powers, reducing opportunitiesto reach Unauthorized access to sensitive data.
Damage Reduction: In the event of a bug or infiltration, the potential damage is less if the app is restricted in its powers.
Easier to manage: It is easier to manage and monitor applications that have specific permissions.
Recommended steps to apply the principle of limiting powers:
Define requirements: Define the permissions necessary to perform the application’s functions.
Use Low Privilege Users: Instead of running applications with system administrator accounts, use accounts with the lowest possible privileges.
Use ACLs (Access Control Lists): Use these lists to control who can access certain resources and what operations they can perform.
Use Authentication and Verification: Authenticate users and verify their permissions before allowing them to perform any action.
Review permissions regularly: Review permissions periodically to ensure they are still appropriate to your application’s needs and security requirements.
Restrict interaction interfaces: Avoid providing unnecessary interactive interfaces that may allow access to system resources or data.
Penetration Testing or Pen Testing is the process of simulating an attack by a maliciously motivated attacker on a system, application, or network to identify security vulnerabilities that the attacker might exploit and assess the strength of the security.
The main goal of penetration tests is to improve system security by identifying vulnerabilities and making recommendations to close them.
Types of penetration tests:
Black Box Testing: No information is provided to the tester about the target system.
White Box Testing: The tester is provided with complete information about the system.
Gray Box Testing: Partial information is given to the laboratory.
Stages of penetration testing:
Planning and Inquiry: Determining the test objectives and test methods to be used.
Reconnaissance: Gather information about the target system.
Security Scanning: Using tools to discover vulnerabilities.
Gaining Access: An attempt to exploit discovered vulnerabilities to gain access to a system.
Maintaining Access: Assessment of the attacker’s ability to remain within the system and achieve his goal.
Report: Provide a detailed report containing findings, vulnerabilities discovered, data accessed, and recommendations to enhance security.
APIs are secure
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have become an essential part of modern applications, allowing communication between different applications and services. However, if the APIs are not properly secured, they may pose a potential vulnerability that can be exploited by attackers. Therefore, it is necessary to adopt best practices to ensure the security of APIs.
Restrict physical access
Restricting physical access refers to the application of security measures that prevent unauthorized persons from gaining physical access to locations, devices, or equipment that may contain sensitive information or be weaknesses in an organization’s security infrastructure.
Avoid local storage of sensitive data
Avoiding local storage of sensitive data is one of the most important security practices when developing applications, especially in the case of mobile applications that may be compromised in the event of device loss or unauthorized access.
Local storage refers to saving data directly on a device, such as a mobile phone or computer, rather than on a server or in the cloud. Although this may provide faster and more efficient access to data, it may pose security risks if sensitive data is handled.
Periodic security updates
Periodic security updates are an essential component of keeping systems and applications secure. As time progresses, new security vulnerabilities appear and software vulnerabilities are discovered, thus it is necessary to perform security updates to address these issues.
Building a secure mobile app is not only the responsibility of the developers, it is a duty that must be fulfilled to protect the users and their data. In today’s world where cyber attacks are becoming more sophisticated and deadly, application developers must ensure that they adopt the latest and best security practices.