As of July 2018, downloadable apps on the Apple App Store reached 3.2 million. Data shows that social media applications are the most frequently used, allowing people to connect — and download other supporting apps. As people spend more time on their mobile phones, programming and production of apps are growing exponentially. While developing these products increases visibility and brand value for companies, it is equally important that leaders heed security guidelines.
Information security will depend on the information or software that is being protected, the cybercriminal’s level of skill, and the overall cost of a potentially successful attack. Because application leaders are not only concerned with developing the app but also ensuring success for the business, keeping it secure should not come only as an afterthought. Should a data breach occur, there is a chance that the company’s reputation will be negatively affected and the customer’s private information compromised. This is how the application leader gets involved.
Application leaders are responsible for securing apps, finding and fixing issues, and improving the software and are often hired by financial institutions, government agencies, and IT companies. These industries invest the most in application security as they are also the most targeted by cybercriminals.
Having an application leader onboard assures that applications are not just well-developed but also secure. That said, the job of application leaders can be separated into three different phases.
As application security (and security in general) gains more attention, the most crucial of the three phases is the assessment phase. By identifying the gaps and vulnerabilities of these applications, companies can ensure that they develop apps that do not just run smoothly but are also secure.
Here are a few ways to keep web-based and mobile applications secure:
A good way to improve an app’s cybersecurity posture is to use real life situations without making any modifications to the app. A cybercriminal is intelligent and motivated to find a hole in the system. Using a risk analysis to mirror this behavior will pinpoint the security problems and how likely an attacker will succeed.
Once the software security tester has identified and ranked the risks, the company can work on improving the software code. Because programming is also a tedious task, running this analysis will highlight the errors in the system and allow coders to clean up their work.
A common tactic of hackers is to reverse engineer an app and tamper with the code. Code hardening is an effective way to keep this from happening. There are two ways to do this:
Obfuscation is the process of obscuring code and making it illegible without affecting its purpose. This can be applied to arithmetic and logical expressions, readable names, and logical structures. All three can be replaced with more complex alternatives to confuse and drive off potential cybercriminals.
Encryption keeps the data from being accessed while the application is not running. App leaders need to ensure that the string, class, asset, and resource are all encrypted.
When creating the app, it is also important to use an authorized application programming interface (API). Unauthorized and insecure APIs can be another loophole for hackers.
With the app securely programmed, it is time to limit the number of people with access to the API and the app software. Tamper-detection technologies are also used to send automated alerts when someone attempts to change the code. This kind of software will ensure that the code will not run if it is modified.
Application leaders should also implement the principle of least privilege (PoLP) when the app runs. This means that when a customer begins using the app, it should not ask for any more privileges than what is required. This limits the app’s interactions with other networks and reduces its vulnerability.
Keeping an application secure does not end once it is released into the market. Continuous testing and analysis are needed for further improvement as new threats are always developing. Keep your app secure and your clients safe.
Wilson Consulting Group is a cyber security firm that aims to provide companies the solutions to keep their systems secure. Our Application Security Assessment Service assist organizations to identify, evaluate and respond to your applications’ risks.