Mobile device use is pervasive, and has eclipsed traditional computing. We often hear how various malicious mobile apps are released into circulation. For these reasons, mobile app development needs to focus on cybersecurity just as much as it does on functionality and flexibility, if not more so. It’s an inevitable aspect of app development that must be taken more seriously, as the very real threats to business proliferate.
Organizations must heighten their awareness of the many well-known and well-understood security threats to mobile apps, during development and in production. Business enterprises of all sizes and types must heighten their awareness of security and the associated threats during and after app development.
A relentless focus on cybersecurity during mobile app development can keep the organization one step ahead of these threats to ensure greater agility and user-friendliness in the apps. This attention to security will also improve the return on investment in the mobile apps.
Mobile apps need several key capabilities to provide organizations with operational efficiencies and to improve productivity while delivering consistent performance under all threat scenarios. Mobile device hardware, such as cameras and fingerprint scanners should be used to enhance cybersecurity in an “always on” world. Some examples include biometric access controls, like facial recognition, fingerprint scanning, and two-factor authentication. Apps should be designed to work without Wi-Fi or cell signals, so as to maintain user productivity even when normal connectivity fails. And, of course, mobile apps should run successfully on any operating system or mobile device, while maintaining a consistent user experience and security.
Cybersecurity is business-critical to prevent data leakage and unauthorized access to sensitive data assets, A compromised mobile app may well give intruders access to these assets or the ability to take users offline.
Developers can avoid these problems by considering cybersecurity through every stage of mobile app development. Techniques to be considered include encrypted databases (with stringent management of encryption/decryption keys), and encryption of all data while in transit over public networks.
Insecure code is the key cybersecurity issue with mobile app development. Criminals typically exploit poorly designed or programmed code to infect the underlying mobile apps and to use them for nefarious purposes, including stealing sensitive data or demanding exorbitant ransoms (now in the millions of dollars per successful attack).
During mobile app development, enterprises should always apply best practice security measures, including manual or automated code scanning to identify common security weaknesses, like insecure libraries, unpatched development tools, breaches of development standards, insecure third-party code, and stringent standards for coding, testing and updating of production libraries.
A relaxed approach to testing leads to the likelihood of subtle security vulnerabilities in software code, leading to negative consequences. This single oversight can leave an organization vulnerable to a compromised infrastructure and/or successful ransomware attack.
Security continuously evolves to protect against the evolving universe of threats. Companies can take advantage of this protection if they partner with mobile app development specialists to test the effectiveness and security of their mobile apps well before they are deployed into productive use. With such a partnership, organizations can stay a step ahead, by leveraging the latest cybersecurity techniques and trends.
Authentication issues leave mobile apps susceptible to security breaches. The mobile app development industry has been exploring the potential of passwordless solutions, with biometrics and two-factor authentication explored as alternatives for credential validation.
Going forward, cybersecurity should be the primary focus for mobile app developers. Data breaches can be financially crippling for organizations, regardless of the type or cause. More organizations are understanding the need for cybersecurity best practices and should incorporate those practices into every element of the development process.
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