Data is the new currency, and the person that can access information has control of every online activity. For example, Capital One is one of the leading banks in the US that witnessed a massive data breach due to misconfiguration of WAF or Web Application Firewall. According to MIT(Massachusetts Institute of Technology) research, it was a Server-Side Request Forgery(SSRF) attack executed due to WAF issues.
Here, an attacker can gain access to the server and make arbitrary connections with external systems to access sensitive data. Therefore, avoiding such attacks and improving mobile app security becomes essential for businesses as it can put users’ data at risk and reduce customers’ trust.
So, you need reliable solutions to ensure proper security protocols, policies, and tools operational to counter malicious attacks. Here we will discuss some of the best practices that you can follow to improve your mobile app security.
Best Practices to Follow For Mobile App Security
From firewall configuration issues to application code vulnerabilities, there are several ways your apps can be compromised. So, you need to counter such problems with different security measures and no single solution works for all of them.
#1. Avoiding reverse engineering
Reverse engineering attacks involve attackers leveraging the APKs and altering the bytecode with disassembly to access source code. Through this, attackers can get testing credentials and other details like code vulnerability, loopholes in security, different classes used, and others.
So, how to avoid such reverse engineering attacks?
Through reverse engineering techniques, hackers can access test credentials, and that is where you need to secure testing data. Several app developers use code-signing certificates to secure their applications as it allows them to verify their credentials by a trusted authority or CA.
A code-signing certificate allows users to verify the developers or app publishers before downloading and installing an application. Developers or app publishers can buy a cheap code signing certificate from a trusted CA to ensure higher protection and encryption-based mobile app security.
Here is how it works,
- A developer generates a private key for verification through a trusted CA
- After confirmation, a code-signing certificate is issued
- The application file along with the security certificate is hashed through an algorithm
- The algorithm forms a hash value for the application and code-signing certificate
- User downloads and installs the application after decryption through a public key
- Before the download, hash values of both the target device and app are compared to validate the original file.
These hash values need brute force attacks to break and that is why they can help you secure your app from reverse engineering attacks. However, it’s not just your test credentials that are at risk of exposure, and the app’s source code also needs proper protection from reverse engineering attacks.
#2. Source Code Security
Most of the source code is at the risk of malicious exposure due to client-side executions. In addition, malware can track vulnerabilities in your application through trackers, which are easily installed through social engineering practices. So, it becomes essential for developers and app publishers to have a comprehensive penetration test.
Penetration testing involves ethical hacking of your applications to test how much your code can be exposed to malware attacks. There are several approaches to penetration testing that you can leverage for your applications like,
- Black box penetration testing
- White box penetration testing
- Grey box penetration testing
Black box penetration testing
Balck box testing follows a conventional approach of how an unknown attacker can infiltrate your application’s secure code and expose essential data. Here, the tester does not have access to internal data or resources for penetration testing. So, the results are authentic and demonstrate a real-life scenario of a malicious attack.
White box penetration testing
The white box approach, also known as the clear box testing or glass box model, lets the tester know complete details of the source code and development environment. It helps in auditing the application more detailedly, providing the tester with comprehensive information regarding its vulnerabilities. Such tests are thorough as the tester has full detail, which is not present in the black-box approach.
Grey box penetration testing
Grey box testing is an approach where the tester is not provided with complete knowledge or details of the application. Instead, the penetration tester will have access to an internal network environment. Further, the tester can gain privileges to the admin domain and even access the application code for testing purposes.
These approaches can be used on different types of penetration testing like,
- Network services
- Web apps
- Client-side browsers
- Wireless environment
- Physical penetration testing
Apart from penetration testing, another critical security measure that you need to deploy is the usage of vulnerability scanners.
#3. Scanning Vulnerabilities
Vulnerability scanning is a process of looking for specific vulnerabilities in the application. Automated scanning tools can be used in tandem with penetration testing to analyze the application security comprehensively.
Vulnerability scanning tools can help your organization find vulnerabilities and even patch loopholes in the system to reduce downtime. These tools can detect and classify different types of vulnerabilities. They can also suggest preventive measures to reduce issues due to such vulnerabilities and improve mobile app security. Though vulnerability scanners and penetration testing are essential, you also need to focus on proper user authentication for data access.
#4. User Authentications
User authentication systems are an essential part of your mobile app security. Unfortunately, social engineering techniques leverage malicious URLs for users to click on or even install apps from unknown sources, which leads to data exposure.
With a robust user authentication process integrated into your application’s architecture, you can improve mobile app security. Take an example of a 2FA or Two-factor authentication process that you can use for enhanced data access security.
It is a process of adding an extra layer of security through user authentication through a token or one-time password or a link on their devices. So, apart from the user IDs and password, an extra security layer is added with validation through the device.
When it comes to mobile app security, you need to analyze your architecture, data exchange mediums, access authentications, code errors, etc. A single error in the code or an unnoticed vulnerability can be the root cause of malicious exposure of users’ data.
It is harmful to your app’s uptime and compliance with the data regulation guidelines like GDPR. This is why using solutions like code-signing certificates and encrypting the code can help your app protect users’ data from malicious attacks.