No matter what kind of business you’re in, security will be a priority. With data breaches (and their resulting fines) regularly making the headlines, it’s no surprise that it sometimes keeps us up at night.
According to a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute (and sponsored by IBM Security), the average data breach can expose approximately 25,575 records.
The average cost of a data breach can be as high as $3.92 million. If you’re a small business or a startup, this could mean bankruptcy.
The most expensive country to experience a security incident in is the United States, where an average data breach could cost a whopping $8.19 million. The healthcare industry, which is strictly regulated, pays the highest price (an average of $6.45 million) for cyber attacks.
As enterprises become increasingly dependent on technology, you can expect the costs related to security incidents to skyrocket as we enter the 2020s.
So whether you’re building a customer-facing mobile app or an enterprise app to optimize business operations, you'll have to embed security right from the first discussion.
This approach can help companies avoid security events experienced by online retailers like Poshmark and SHEIN. The latter suffered a cyber attack that exposed as much as 38 million unique email addresses and passwords (stored as MD5 hashes).
This might not sound like a serious breach, but it can be. Even if bad actors don’t get access to sensitive information like credit card numbers and social security numbers, they can still use the information to build profiles, open new online or offline accounts under assumed identities, and launch social engineering attacks.
So how should software engineers and startup founders respond to the rising threat of mobile app attacks? Let’s take a look.
1. Make Security a Priority Right From the Beginning
Before you write a single line of code, discuss how you’ll secure the app with the rest of the app development team. One way to approach this is to formulate a detailed security checklist that can be revisited at different stages of the development cycle.
When you implement security protocols early, you can help minimize the risk of hacks and resolve any potential issues before the app is published.
2. Write Solid and Secure Code
It’s critical to secure your code through each iteration as hackers are always on the lookout for vulnerabilities that they can be exploited. In this scenario, for example, they can attempt to view the code and reverse engineer it.
So as a habit, always write “hard code” that can’t be broken easily. One way to achieve this is to engage in timely up-gradation activities to ensure code security.
You can also use the tampered detection technique during the development and the lifetime of the app to be alerted to any modifications made to the code. It’s important because if you don’t log off the changes to your code, hackers will be able to inject malicious code into your app.
3. Only Use Authorized APIs
As a rule, never use unknown or unauthorized APIs in your code. Whenever you use unauthorized APIs, it’ll open the door to bad actors who want to breach your app.
You also have to practice caution while using third-party libraries. Always engage in “extreme vetting” before integrating it into your code.
Also have a system in place, like central-authorization for the whole API, to enhance mobile app security.
4. Encrypt Data Whenever Possible
Hackers want your customer data, so it’s crucial to deploy encryption protocols into the app. When you follow this approach, it makes any data that’s potentially leaked, scrambled and meaningless.
5. Employ 2-Factor Authentication
Strong passwords are great, but 2-factor authentication is even better. So make it part of your security posture and get your users on board.
6. Make Testing a Core Part of Your Culture
Security threats evolve rapidly, they are changing even as you read this post. This makes it essential to engage in regular testing to identify and patch any potential vulnerabilities (that could lead to a security incident).
Whenever possible, automate this function. You should also hire white hate hackers and penetration testers who can help identify any holes the infrastructure that was missed by your internal team.
However, it’s vital to keep it simple and only allow a few privileged individuals access the code. It will also be a good idea to automate updates to ensure that all users are patched and secured on time.