Graphic with the text: mobile app security trends & challenges

As mobile app development becomes more and more popular, the need for strong mobile security measures becomes even more important. Unfortunately, many mobile apps are not properly secured, which can lead to disastrous consequences. In this blog post, we will discuss the top mobile app security challenges and how to overcome them. We will also look at some real-world examples of data breaches that could have been prevented with proper mobile security measures.

The importance of mobile app security

The need to ensure that a mobile app protects both user and company data should never be underestimated. With access to sensitive data and the ability to connect with external systems, mobile apps are vulnerable to a variety of threats. These include malicious attackers, malware, phishing attacks, and more.

The growth of the mobile market makes the scale of the challenges faced by mobile app developers ever greater. It is crucial to note that mobile apps can gain access to a huge amount of user data, from location, through full contact lists and browsing histories, to biometrics and information stored in banking or healthcare apps. With this in mind, the need for effective mobile security solutions is more important than ever.

Top mobile app security challenges

Unencrypted data

When transmitting data between the server and mobile app, it is essential to encrypt it to prevent data theft. Without encryption, an attacker could easily intercept sensitive information like passwords or financial details.

To protect user data, companies can use TLS/SSL for secure communication and implement strong authentication mechanisms. User data should be encrypted, stored securely, and only accessed when necessary. Not only this, but any data that is transmitted between the app and third-party systems should be encrypted as well.

Preventing external attacks

External attacks such as mobile malware, phishing attacks, or DDoS can be prevented by using a web application firewall to monitor for suspicious activity.

Secure authentication

Secure authentication is essential for protecting user data, as it ensures only authenticated users can access the app. Implementing two-factor authentication and using secure protocols such as OAuth 2.0 can help in protecting mobile users from attackers. To prevent unauthorized access, mobile apps can also use biometric authentication. Additionally, implementing an account lockout policy can help protect against brute-force attacks.

Securing APIs

Mobile apps often rely on APIs to connect with external systems. To ensure these connections are secure, mobile development teams can use authentication and encryption protocols such as OAuth 2.0 or TLS/SSL. Additionally, mobile apps should use API keys or access tokens to control and limit access to the API.

Secure data storage

User data needs to be stored securely on the server side in order to protect it from theft or manipulation. Companies can use encryption and hashing algorithms as well as secure protocols like TLS/SSL for secure communication with their server. Additionally, it is important to use strong passwords and limit access to the data.

Cloud computing security

Cloud computing provides a convenient and cost-effective way to store data, but it also introduces some mobile security risks. Companies can protect their cloud environment by using encryption for data transmission and storage, as well as secure protocols like TLS/SSL for communication. Additionally, access to the cloud should be limited only to authorized personnel with strong passwords.

Mobile application security testing & auditing

Regular vulnerability scans and mobile security audits of the mobile app can help in identifying any potential vulnerabilities before they become a problem. Companies can also use automated mobile application security testing tools to ensure their apps are safe from mobile threats and up-to-date.

Social engineering

Social engineering attacks are an increasing threat, as attackers use social media and other communication channels to gather information. To protect data from such attacks, companies need to educate their employees on the dangers of social engineering and how to spot malicious attempts.

Mobile malware

Malware is a major mobile app security concern. To protect against malicious software which can result in a mobile malware attack, companies can use antivirus solutions and mobile device management (MDM) tools to detect and remove any mobile malware. Additionally, app development teams should keep their apps up-to-date with the latest security fixes.

Code injections attacks

Code injection attacks are a particularly dangerous type of attack, as attackers can access data and other sensitive information through SQL injection or deserialization errors. To protect against these types of attacks, mobile apps should use secure coding practices such as input validation, output encoding, and use strong authentication.

Balancing mobile security with user experience

When implementing security measures, mobile app development teams must be careful to balance mobile security with user experience. Users should not have to go through overly complicated authentication protocols or long wait times for their data to load. 

Adaptive mobile security

To stay ahead of ever-evolving threats, mobile development teams need to continuously monitor and update their mobile app security measures. Companies should consider implementing an adaptive security approach which uses analytics to detect changes in user behavior and quickly respond with the necessary updates or patches.

Proactive mobile security solutions

Mobile security needs should not be an afterthought. Companies need to build a proactive mobile security strategy which includes regular testing and auditing, employee training on data protection, and the use of secure coding principles.

DevSecOps

DevSecOps is the practice of integrating security into the development process from the beginning. This approach reduces security incidents and allows mobile development teams to quickly respond to any threats or vulnerabilities.

Secure OTA updates

Over-the-air updates are a convenient way for mobile app developers to quickly deploy new features or bug fixes, but it also introduces security risks. Companies should use secure OTA update solutions such as authenticated encryption to protect private data and maintain user trust.

Real-world examples

Unfortunately, even with the best mobile app security measures in place, data breaches are still possible. In 2018, a data breach in the health-tech company MyFitnessPal exposed the personal data of 150 million users. The breach was caused by an attacker exploiting a vulnerability in the app’s authentication system. 

At the start of 2019, Marriott International was fined $123 million for a data breach that exposed personal data of millions of customers. The breach occurred due to a lack of encryption, and it is believed that hackers were able to access customer information such as names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card details and more.

Managing mobile app security

Mobile security is an ever-evolving challenge for mobile development teams. By understanding the security challenges faced by companies that build mobile applications and implementing effective measures to address them, it is not difficult to reduce the risk of a data breach. Finally, regular tests and audits are a good way to proof apps against any potential vulnerabilities.

The bottom line is this: mobile app security should be taken seriously and treated with the utmost importance. By following the best practices outlined in this blog post, you can ensure that your mobile app is protected from malicious actors and data breaches. The important thing to remember is to stay vigilant and always be on the lookout for potential vulnerabilities.

Olga Trąd

Marketing Manager

Fascinated by the spirit of innovation that permeates the IT industry, Olga has never abandoned her roots as an IT content marketing specialist. She draws on years of experience in the technology sector to shed light on interesting trends, solutions and practices.

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