Mobile apps have revolutionized the way we eat, sleep, drink and work whether from home, office or a hotel room. You can now check your account balance, book a travel or even buy your favourite LBD through various mobile applications while enjoying a cup of hot coffee at your home. But as a plethora of mobile apps hit the app stores every week, so does the number of security risks. Hackers work hard to phish out user information through mobile apps or plant malware to cause considerable damage.
Most of the consumers aren’t worried about the potential risks when using mobile applications. A lot of personal and highly confidential data such as bank logins, credit card details and the like are exchanged between various devices and databases, so it is essential that the end user as well as the mobile app developers London become vigilant about the security issues of mobile apps.
Mobile App Security Threats
Unlike traditional viruses, unsafe mobile apps cannot be detected easily by IT administrators. Mobile malware is mostly dominated by SMS Trojans and Android adware which are programmed to seek financial gains by using the end-user’s credentials.
There are several intrusive mobile apps as well that threaten user privacy by fetching location, device ID, usage information and other such confidential data of the users. McAfee Labs reported, 82 percent of the Android apps track users and 80 percent of the apps collect location information.
Worried by the stats? There are more reasons to get worried. According to the February 2015 quarterly threats report by McAfee Labs, the number of malicious mobile apps is on a rise and more than 6 million mobile malware samples were detected. In most cases, Android AirPush adware was found to be the common culprit for all the devices that reported malware infection.
This is not only the case with Android; even iOS devices are becoming vulnerable to the adware dilemma. A specific malware named iOS/SSLCreds is distributed through the social platform Reddit and is programmed to steal user passwords. iOS/AdThief is another malware that hijacks ads displayed on infected devices and steals developer revenues.
Mobile apps have broken the boundaries and have opened new doors of opportunities for businesses of all sizes, but mobile safety has been on stake. So in order to restore privacy and protect user data, companies across the world should take care of the potential mobile app security problems more aggressively. This means the IT leaders and the mobile app developers should ensure that they take all kinds of measures to protect enterprise and user information.
Mobile Security Risks that should be Taken Care of
Listed below are potential mobile app risks that the developers should be well aware of to develop secure mobile apps that protect user data from theft:
Insecure Data Storage
In order to offer convenience, several mobile applications ask for user credentials only once, which is then stored for future reference. So next time you use the same application, you don’t have to put in your password again, just open the application and you are ready to use it. Very convenient isn’t it? But have you ever considered the potential threats?
Let’s take the case of Starbucks, a mobile payment app that is widely used across U.S. This app stored all the user credentials like usernames, passwords, email addresses, location information, etc. in plain text format. This means anyone with access to the phone can easily retrieve the information and use it for their interests.
How many of you use the same credentials across various systems for the ease of remembering? Sure there are thousands of people who use same passwords across many accounts. So if someone retrieves your username and password, all the accounts using the same credentials get compromised. So mobile app developers should design an app in such a way that credentials are not directly stored on to the device and even if they do, they should be encrypted.
Unintended Data Leakage
A lot of mobile apps use personal data like age, gender, location, etc. to offer personalized the user experiences. While personalized services can offer great customer satisfaction, improper handling of such confidential data can breach user privacy.
For example, the National Security Agency tapped into some of the most popular smart phone apps to collect massive amounts of personal data (location, gender, age and other information) collected by the apps. This was possible because of faulty apps without stringent data protection policies. Though popular consumer apps like Angry Birds report they adhere to strict security guidelines and do not facilitate surveillance on the consumers in any way, some glitches in their security policy have been found.
According to a study in 2012, more than 50 percent of the available mobile apps gather more personal information than they actually require. So along with brining convenience, mobile apps are also responsible for leakage of personal information. So mobile developers should be watchful about how the data moves across systems and fix any loophole before the hackers take advantage.
Weak Server Side Controls
It is essential to secure the servers against security flaws before allowing the app to access the server. Failing to secure the servers means any unauthorized access will make the data vulnerable. So it is essential that the servers are protected against all kinds of unauthorized access. The back-end programs need to be robust so that they prevent all kinds of security breaches. Verify all APIs and develop the programs so that only authorized people have access to the servers.
Flawed Authorization and Authentication Processes
Apps and the systems they are connected to should be protected with robust authorization and authentication processes so that only authorized users are able to exchange data and all unauthorized access are blocked immediately.
Creating a user-friendly and easy-to-use app should not only be the goal, it is essential that along with a seamless user experience you take all measures to protect customer data. To ensure your app is completely safe, your mobile app development team should scan the app for potential risks and fix all the problems before launching it. Leakage of sensitive data can be harmful for both your business as well as your customers, so make sure you understand the potential mobile app security risks and develop a robust app.