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Top 5 Mobile App Security Best Practices for Developers
In today's world of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices, it is more important than ever for developers to keep their apps up-to-date with the latest security features. Here are five of the best practices that all app developers should follow when building a mobile application.
Encrypt All Data
When data is encrypted, it is converted into an unreadable format that can only be accessed with a special key. This is a must for any app that stores sensitive user information such as passwords or credit card numbers.
There are many different types of encryption algorithms, and the most secure ones are those that use a combination of two or more methods. When selecting an encryption algorithm, be sure to consult with a security expert to make sure you are using the right one for your app.
There are many libraries that can help you encrypt your data, such as Android's AESCrypt and iOS's CommonCrypto. If you are not familiar with encryption algorithms, do not try to implement your own.
Secure APIs and Web Services
In order to communicate with backend servers or other third-party services, your app will need to secure an API (Application Programming Interface). The API security should be top-notch and should be secure and properly authenticated so that no unauthorized access can take place.
One way to make sure your API is secure is to use TLS/SSL encryption. This encrypts the data that is sent between your app and the server, ensuring that no one can eavesdrop on the transmission.
Another way to secure your API is by using OAuth authentication. This standard allows users to authorize an app to access their personal information without having to share their username and password with the developer. If you are not sure how to secure your API, consult with a security expert or use one of the many available APIs libraries that are designed to help you.
Deploy Proper Session Handling
When a user is logged in to your app, you need to make sure that their session remains active until they log out. If the user's session expires, they will have to sign in again and this can be annoying for them.
One way to keep a user's session active is by using cookies. These small files are stored on the user's device and contain their authentication information. If the user closes your app or stops using it, you can send them a new cookie that will allow them to stay logged in until they choose to log out.
If cookies are not an option for your mobile application, for example, if you are building a game, make sure to use secure storage when saving session data. This way, if the user's phone is ever compromised you will be safe and their session information cannot be accessed without first knowing their login credentials.
The last thing worth mentioning about sessions is that they should never expire. If a user does not use your app for an extended period of time for instance 30 days, make sure to log them out automatically. This will keep their data safe and prevent anyone from using their account without permission.
If you are not sure how to handle sessions in your app, there are many libraries that can help you. The most popular ones are SessionStorage for Android and NSURLSession for iOS.
Use High-Level Authentication Methods
When users sign in to your app, they should not be asked to type in their username and password every time. This can be a pain for the user and also opens up the possibility of someone stealing their login credentials.
Instead, use high-level authentication methods such as OAuth or Facebook Login. These methods allow the user to authorize your app once and then be automatically logged in on all subsequent visits.
Another high-level authentication method worth mentioning is Touch ID/FaceID, which allows users to safely authenticate themselves with their fingerprint or face respectively. This eliminates the need for passwords while still ensuring that only authorized users can access your app.
Use Authorized APIs Only
If your app requests permission to access certain APIs, make sure that you only allow it to do so when the user is authenticated. This will prevent attackers from executing sensitive API calls in their name and can help protect them against data theft or other unauthorized actions.
For example, if an attacker finds a way to view users' credit card numbers stored on their devices, your app will be responsible for this data leak. This is why it's important to only allow certain endpoints to run when the user has successfully logged in and passed authentication checks.
It’s no doubt that security breaches have become common in the cyber world and the stakes are higher than ever before. Consumers place a lot of trust in your company when they download your app onto their phone or tablet so you need to make sure they can feel safe doing so. Following these best practices for mobile app security is essential for protecting your users' data.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes