Nowadays, smartphones are more in use and demand than traditional PCs because they are more user-friendly, portable, and are easy to handle. The mobile device users are more than three billion, and it is predicted that this number will increase in the next few years. These devices are used for various purposes ranging from personal use like capturing pictures to scrolling social networking apps or making banking transactions.
Mobile smartphones have turned out to be an essential tool that contains our sensitive information such as business contacts and financial and personal information. It has led to cyber attackers to expand their target area and launch direct attacks on mobile devices.
Over time, mobile security threats are increasing significantly. Millions of malware pieces have infected hundreds of user devices. Every day thousands of malware programs are detected whose prime aim is to target mobile devices.
In such an alarming situation, we’ve compiled an article that sheds light on various mobile apps security threats and some practices on preventing them. Let’s read on.
Mobile apps are a fundamental reason for unintentional data leakage. Like for example, the riskware apps pose a severe concern for mobile users who fail to check the security when giving apps permission. These are the free apps you can easily find in the official app stores. Such apps work as advertisers but also steal and send personal and corporate data to the remote server where cyber-crooks use it for their purposes.
Through enterprise-signed mobile applications, data leakage also occurs. It is where mobile malware makes effective use of the distribution code built-in to the frequent mobile operating systems, such as Android and iOS, to spread data across the corporate networks with no red flags being raised.
Inadequate Data Storage
Data storage becomes unprotected and vulnerable within your app in many places, including binary data stores, cookie stores, SQL databases, and many more. Insecure data storage is caused by vulnerabilities in the compiler, framework, and operating system, as well as the latest or broken devices. Other times it is mainly due to lack of proper processes to manage a cache of data, images, and key presses.
If an attacker gains access to a device, they alter the app to pump information to their machines. Even robust encryption seems useless when a device is rooted that permits hackers to surpass the restrictions and prevent encryption.
Lack of Multi-Factor Authentication
Without realizing how risky and dangerous the results are, the majority of the users use the same passwords for multiple accounts. Moreover, users have no proper authorization methods, which poses a severe mobile app security threat.
If an attacker accesses your username and passwords from your accounts, they can access your other account information as well. Here the worrisome factor is that you won’t even realize that you’re hacked because they haven’t enabled any of the authentication methods.
Always consider to use a strong password with each platform, if you cannot manage it, then install any third party software to handle your passwords. This is how passwords manager actually works.
Symantec reveals that 13.4% of the customer devices and 10.5% of the enterprise devices are working without proper encryption. In case hackers gain access to these devices, it means that your data is available to them in plain text. All those software companies that do not use proper encryption are not solely at fault. Developers and humans make mistakes that hackers exploit. Thus, it is vital to determine how easy it is to crack your app’s code when it comes to encryption.
Lack of secure encryption often leads to severe consequences like code and property theft, damage to reputation, privacy violations, and much more.
Exposure to Malicious Code Injection
Most of the time, the user-generated content like comments and forms are ignored because of the potential threats they impose on mobile app security. Let’s consider the example of a login form; when a user enters their username and password, the app communicates with the server-side data to authenticate. Remember, apps don’t restrict characters’ user inputs, and this raises the hackers injecting code to access the server.
How to Prevent Them?
In today’s age, app security is more of a necessity than a feature. A single incident of a breach can cost your company in billions, along with loss of trust for a lifetime. For this reason, security should be the utmost priority both for the developers and for the users.
The following mentioned below are some of the ways developers must adopt to boost the security of their apps.
1. Write a Secure Code
Bugs and vulnerabilities within a code are the starting point for most attackers to break into an application. They attempt to reverse engineer your code and modify it. To do so, all they need is a free copy of your app. According to research, malicious codes affect more than 11.6 million devices at a time.
Thus, from day one, keep code security as a top priority and make your codes hard enough, so they are tough to break. Obscure your code to prevent reverse engineering. Also, conduct tests at regular intervals and fix bugs soon they get revealed. Moreover, design your code in a way that is easy to update. Make sure to keep your code agile as well so, a user can update it and post a breach.
2. Encrypt Your Data
Use secure encryption for your data. Each unit exchanged over the app should undergo encryption. In this way, if your data gets stolen, the criminal cannot misuse it. Another way of encrypting your data is by using a VPN. This goes especially for the users. A VPN encrypts all your internet traffic by allowing you to browse the web anonymously, and prevent any malicious actor from monitoring what you are doing online. So, hurry up! Start using free VPNs that work for Android devices and protect yourself from any potential threat.
3. Use the Least Privilege Norm
The principle of least privilege says that code must run with the permission it ultimately needs. Your app should not ask for any other privileges than the minimum required for functioning. If you don’t require access to the user’s contacts, then don’t request it too. Also, avoid making redundant network connections.
4. Make Threat Models to Secure Data
Threat modeling is a method used to understand the problem that is solved where there are issues and have strategies that defend against them. A well-structured threat model enables the team to get insight into different operating systems, frameworks, platforms, and external APIs that transfer and store their data. Use APIs as experts regard them as an integral part of maximum security.
5. Unauthorized Access
To safeguard any mobile app against malware and vulnerabilities, be knowledgeable regarding access permissions once you install a mobile app. User approval is crucial and needed before any apps gain access to other apps or even date on android devices. Be cautious and vigilant with the requests from the apps to access data they should avoid.
6. Implement Proper Session Handling
Sessions on mobile devices are longer than those on desktops, and because of this session handling becomes harder for the server. Instead of device identifiers, use a token to identify sessions. Using tokens provides more security when an incident of lost or stolen devices takes place. Also, enable wiping of data from a lost device along with remote log-off.
7. Use Cryptography Tools and Techniques
Key management is vital if your encryption efforts have to pay off. Avoid hard-coding your keys as it makes it easy for the attackers to steal them. Store keys in secure containers instead of storing them on local devices. Some commonly accepted cryptographic protocols such as SHA1 and MDS have proven not much sufficient by modern security standards. Use the most trusted APIs like 256-bit encryption along with SHA-256 for hashing.
Towards the end of the guide, we are hopeful that you got a clear insight about mobile app security threats. Remember, there may be many other threats as well. In this situation, the best solution is to follow the tips mentioned above for enhancing mobile app security.