No matter what type of app development companies are working on, security must be a core principle. Whether it is a business solution, or an app designed to be simply a piece of fun, cybersecurity must be an essential consideration at every stage of the process as cybercriminals have become ever more sophisticated. With that in mind, here are some essential steps application designers should follow in their quest to develop their apps:
1. Utilize Testing Software
This is often the area in which apps and developers fall down. You must be prepared to test, retest and test again all software that is employed in the development of the app for bugs or potential weak points which could conceivably support a breach. Thorough testing should take place again when there are updates, and this means each and every time. One of the reasons testing can fall by the wayside is due to unrealistic release dates and other deadlines. In a highly competitive marketplace, there is never a minute to lose, but this is one repeated stage of this process where not a single corner can be cut. It cannot be emphasized enough: keep on testing. This process never stops. The penalties and consequences of security breaches are just too great for developers to ignore.
Application Program Interfaces (APIs) control the dissemination of data between differing software components and set the parameters for how they should interact. Quite simply, without secure API processes, successful mobile app development operations are impossible to achieve.
3. Start from the Beginning
The issue of app security should be one of the prime considerations, so it should be introduced in the very earliest stages of development, as well as a key item on board agendas. Starting with the original source code for developing the app, security must be ingrained, and it cannot be something that is only considered after the app has been built, as by then it may be too late, or at least too costly, to plug any gaps in security measures. Start from the beginning, which means the code, build a security ethos, and develop from there.
4. Consider Data Storage
Most apps these days require copious amounts of data, and where to store this data is a perennial question. By their very nature, mobile apps require more data than traditional web-based versions, and so considering how this data is handled and stored is key. With different challenges to be faced with mobile apps, constant new threats to security are uncovered on an almost daily basis. Additionally, more stringent regulations regarding recording data storage and usage (for example, the General Data Protection Regulation in Europe), not to mention the introduction of third-party cloud-based data warehouses and so on, the question of data must continuously be reviewed and updated, as it is a continuous learning process.
5. Secure Data Communications
One of the easiest ways for cybercriminals to take advantage of security flaws is through unsecured communication channels. The best way for developers to circumvent this issue is by using SSL chain verification, which provides an encrypted connection between server and browser. On top of that, never use SMS or push notifications for sending personal data and use the most up-to-date encryption algorithms.
6. Put Measures in Place Before Release
Authentication and authorization measures should be up and running before the release of the app to general users, and rigorous testing of these measures should take place well in advance of this time too. With such an array of software available for these purposes, experienced authentication and authorization developers should be in control of the initial set-up stages as this is an integral process; get it wrong and the app will die a quick death.
7. Use Trusted Employees
Unfortunately, one of the most common flaws in any app development process is the employees that work on it. It goes without saying that the vast majority of employees are trustworthy and of course essential to the process, as without them you simply could not complete the task. Yet according to 2017 statistics, over 50% of data leaks could be traced back to employees, either intentionally or unintentionally. The unintentional leaks can be secured by having strong processes and security checks in the actual development process, while intentional leaks are a little bit more difficult to cater for. Non-Disclosure Agreements are a great way of securing employees to legally-binding rules and regulations, while a strong corporate culture and good communication can take care of the rest. Do, however, ensure you have a stringent process of checks and balances in place.
8. And Mind the Backend
Attackers can also access data through the back-end of the app in the form of third-party databases and services, so always ensure that these too are secure. When engaging third-party services, always demand the highest level of data protection and ask to be walked through the processes that they employ for these purposes.
9. Finally, Never Stop Learning
All online development practices are evolving at a speed of knots never quite seen before in the history of human processes, and that fact in itself presents a number of serious challenges. With cybercriminals innovating, software evolving, and regulations stacking up, it is almost impossible for developers to be well-informed regarding every aspect of security. The solution is two-fold. First, a deep ethos of collaboration must be fostered between all groups within the development team, ensuring the quick dissemination of information and constant dialogue which may flag a potential risk. Secondly, nurture a strong environment of learning, where regular learning sessions are conducted through webinars and other such means to keep staff as informed as is humanly possible. Management must be as equally informed, if not more so, to keep control of this critical process.
About Micahel Dehoyos
Micahel Dehoyos is usually found assisting organizations in their digital marketing approach. He is an editor and content marketer at the PHD Kingdom and a regular contributor to various other publications and sites.