Protecting User Data In Your Mobile App: 6 Things To Consider

By Chatty Garrate – For developers building an app, mobile security is a must. User data is something you have to protect at all costs, as your success or failure depends on consistently ensuring that all information is out of reach from outsiders. The last thing any developer wants is a nightmare scenario where all data leak out.

Any organization handling, storing, or collecting sensitive data needs a protection strategy. When a data breach or disaster occurs, a good strategy can help minimize damage caused by loss, theft, or corruption. Here are 6 things to consider to protect user data in your mobile app.

Encryption is Key

As part of your mobile app development framework, encryption is the most vital part of both data security and privacy. Like any public-facing system, you want to encrypt user data to prevent would-be hackers from finding exploits and taking valuable user information.

Choosing an encryption strategy should take into account the user experience as well as data protection. A lack of a proper encryption system is costly, as even the most cursory app stores require a level of security compliance. You open yourself up to potential legal consequences for irresponsible data handling without encryption.

You should store your information in a way that is not useful to anyone who breaks into your network if you can’t build a strong enough outer perimeter to protect it. Mathematics can be used to prevent even the most cunning thieves from breaking in while at the same time empowering company employees.

Data can be secured by encrypting or scrambling it and storing only the scrambled version on your database. The data is thus unreadable but still valuable for those who know how to query it correctly.

Read: 6 Types of Security Software to Keep Your Workplace Protected

Consider Following Data Compliance Standards

When developing an app, data security isn’t just about encryption. You need to ensure that your app follows industry best practices that mitigate risks as much as possible.

Data protection standards vary around the world, but mobile developers in the USA have to follow the Federal Information Security Modernization Act. In the EU, the GDPR regulates how companies store, process, and handle data. There are also SOC2 compliance standards that outline how to manage customer data.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) all cover how organizations should handle sensitive data.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has requirements for mobile apps. These standards should be followed for any sensitive data collected from users. The FTC recommends storing data only as long as is necessary and that all data be encrypted.

Read: What Are the Most Common Cybersecurity Threats Your Business Might Encounter

Securing Your Code

Even the best encryption strategy is useless without strong code. All code should be checked for vulnerabilities, as hackers often target apps that contain unpatched holes.

Keeping your code secure requires vigilance and continual maintenance. Having a secure code development process requires that you work from a documented set of standards. You need to test your code for security vulnerabilities before releasing it to the app store.

You can do many things to secure your code, such as the regular use of code analyzers, code review with your peers, and static analysis. You can use automated testing, continuous integration, and automated vulnerability detection to ensure there are no security flaws in your source code.

Be Updated With Current Mobile App Vulnerabilities

Vulnerabilities in user-facing apps seem almost inevitable. When security holes are discovered, they must be patched as soon as possible. Developers need to stay on top of app security to avoid legal repercussions after user data is leaked.

Read: Is Your Company Ready for a Ransomware Attack

Your mobile app will regularly be scanned to check for security vulnerabilities. When vulnerabilities are found, they need to be patched as quickly as possible. The faster you can fix bugs, the less damage they can do and the safer your users will be.

Ensure that you have a mobile bug reporting tool to help your quality assurance team find issues within the app. This will help empower the community to report potential exploits and improve the app with you.

Keep an Eye on Mobile Security Trends

When building a mobile app, you need to be aware of current security trends. Mobile devices are becoming increasingly powerful and sophisticated, but security tools often lag behind.

There’s no one way to store user data securely. As mobile security technology evolves, security protocols are constantly being improved. Mobile app developers should regularly check in with experts in the field to keep abreast of security trends.

Hackers are seeking ways to exploit vulnerabilities in mobile apps. A failure to keep on top of mobile security trends means you’re potentially leaving your users open to attack and sacrificing your reputation.

Read: Your worst nightmare, Malware on Android devices

There are several critical mobile security trends that developers should be aware of. These include machine learning and artificial intelligence, the use of biometrics, and blockchain.

Utilize Penetration Tests

Penetration tests (or pen tests) are one of the best ways to test the security of your mobile app. Pen tests involve external threat actors attempting to break into your app, usually performed by external parties, such as security experts or security consultants.

Pen testing is beneficial to avoid security risks and vulnerabilities in your mobile apps. Finding any loophole in the system is crucial, as these could grow to become potential threats allowing access to mobile data and features.

Read: A brief guide to testing APIs & the tools involved

A typical pen test will involve a team of people trying to breach the security of your application. They will follow security best practices and try to find ways to exploit your app. They will then analyze the results and recommend ways to strengthen the security of your application.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the best mobile security strategy is one that’s highly tailored to your company’s needs. You must account for all possible threats, as well as all potential vulnerabilities.

Your app should be secure enough to comply with the laws governing data protection while at the same time providing an engaging experience for users.

Mobile security is a continual process, and developers need to keep top of the latest trends. Mobile app developers need to review their apps for potential vulnerabilities regularly.

Developers need to build a system around data privacy and security for mobile apps. Encryption and data compliance are the most critical aspects of any data security strategy. You need to ensure that their app follows best practices and that security is your top priority.

 


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