Best Practices for Mobile App Security

Yash Mestry
Engineering Team
Read Time
4 min read
Published On
December 9, 2022

The prevalence of cybercrime increased in 2022. Every year, the rate of cybercrime rises, and it is predicted that it will peak within the next year. Reportedly, more than 80% of firms globally are affected by cybercrime security attacks. An essential part of an enterprise cybersecurity plan is secure mobile access. The risk of infected devices compromising the data, programs, and systems—of the specific mobile devices accessed—grows as they are utilized more frequently. We’ve seen this as remote work becomes an option. The need for implementing mobile security correctly while developing is now more important than ever. Here are some best practices for Mobile App Security.

Mobile App Security Best Practices:

Write Secure Code first

  • The majority of hackers utilize bugs and vulnerabilities in a code as their entry point into an application. All they need is a public copy of your software to attempt to reverse engineer and modify your code. Over 11.6 million mobile devices are reportedly being affected by malicious programs at any given time, according to research. Be mindful of the security of your code from the beginning and make it difficult to crack. Your code should be minified and obscured to prevent reverse engineering.

Be Particularly Wary Around Libraries

  • When using third-party libraries, exercise extreme caution and thoroughly verify the code before including it in your application. Despite their usefulness, some libraries can be very dangerous for your app's security. For instance, a security hole in the GNU C Library may have let hackers remotely run harmful code and brought down a machine. This weakness went unnoticed for more than seven years. To shield their apps against flaws in libraries, developers should use regulated internal repositories and apply policy controls during purchase.

Source Code Encryption

  • Most of the code in a native mobile app is on the client side, so encrypting the source code can be an ideal way to defend your application from these attacks as it ensures it is unreadable.
  • Use the Principle of Least Privilege
    - Your app shouldn’t request any more privileges than the minimum amount required for it to function. If you don’t need access to the user’s contacts, don’t ask for it. Don’t make unnecessary network connections.

Penetration Tests - Perform a Thorough QA & Security Check

  • These "pen tests" can avoid security risks and vulnerabilities against your mobile apps. Detecting loopholes in the system is an absolute necessity, as they could grow to become potential threats that give access to mobile data and features.
  • Secure the Data-in-transitIt is highly recommended to use either an SSL or VPN tunnel, which ensures that user data is protected with strict security measures.

File-Level & Database Encryption - Make Provisions for Data Security

  • To ensure security in the sandbox environment, you should implement mobile app data encryption using SQLite Database Encryption Modules or practice file-level encryption across multiple platforms.

High-level Authentication

  • Using biometric authentication or enforcing strong password policies adds a good layer of security to the app.

Secure the Backend

  • Verify all your APIs per the mobile platform you aim to code for because API authentication and transport mechanisms can deviate from one platform to another.
  • Deploy Proper Session Handling “Sessions” on mobile last much longer than on desktops. This makes session handling harder for the server. Use tokens instead of device identifiers to identify a session. Tokens can be revoked at any time, making them more secure in case of lost and stolen devices. Enable remote wiping of data from a lost/stolen device and also enable remote log-off.

Storing Sensitive Information

  • Never store sensitive API keys in your app code. Anything included in your code could be accessed in plain text by anyone inspecting the app bundle. React Native does not come bundled with any way of storing sensitive data. However, there are pre-existing solutions for Android and iOS platforms.

Authentication and Deep Linking

  • Deep links are not secure and you should never send any sensitive information to them. The OAuth2 authentication protocol is incredibly popular nowadays and prided as the most complete and secure protocol around.

SSL Encryption & SSL Pinning

  • It works by embedding (or pinning) a list of trusted certificates to the client during development so that only the requests signed by one of the trusted certificates will be accepted, and any self-signed certificates will not be. This module can be used to solve the concern.

Prevent access to jailbroken devices

  • These kinds of devices may gain unauthorized access to the data you are storing in your app.

Repeatedly test

  • The process of protecting your app never ends. New threats are developing, necessitating new answers. Spend money on threat modeling, penetration testing, and emulators to regularly check your apps for flaws. Every update should fix these, and fixes should be released as needed.

The well-known data breaches of 2017 like WannaCry and NotPetya have undoubtedly awakened everyone to the significance of cyber security, and in the years to come, everyone from businesses to consumers will take security more seriously than ever. The success of apps will increasingly depend more on security than on usability or design aesthetics. The aforementioned recommendations will assist you in keeping your software secure as an oyster and your customers and users satisfied.

Here’s a checklist to follow while building mobile apps!

Mobile Security Checklist:

  • Securing the source code
  • Securing files and database
  • Securing communications and network traffic
  • Perform input validation
  • Brace for Reverse Engineering
  • Prevent Unauthorized Access
  • Encrypt Mobile Communications and Data
  • Monitor Activity of Mobile Users
  • Protect against Data leaks
  • Prevent Data theft
  • Scan for Malware & vulnerabilities
  • Perform dynamic analysis
  • Perform penetration testing

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out our other blog posts.