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Fintech app development: Secure by design or just design?

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Fintech app development covers a broad specter of mobile financial applications devoted to mobile banking, open banking, crypto, standard wallets, instant payments – the list goes on. Such versatility is available thanks to the sped-up process of digitalization in the banking sector as well as open banking, which opened doors for easy access to bank account information and building a financial network outside the traditional banking scope.

Fintech app development covers a broad specter of mobile financial applications devoted to mobile banking, open banking, crypto, standard wallets, instant payments – the list goes on. Such versatility is available thanks to the sped-up process of digitalization in the banking sector as well as open banking, which opened doors for easy access to bank account information and building a financial network outside the traditional banking scope.

Fintech app development

Users are now fully accustomed to making payments with their mobile phones, providing them with instant access to their accounts anywhere, at any time. The widespread availability of fintech apps, however, brought security concerns. In this example, we are dealing with threats that are much more obvious than in the previous app categories. Illicit withdrawals, man-in-the-middle attacks, loyalty program abuse, unauthorized access to sensitive information - all of the things that come top of mind when discussing the security of any type of mobile payment.

Concerning figures for online payments

Research, analyzing more than 150 fintech apps available on Google Play and App Store, brought back concerning figures. 84% of Andriod and 70% of iOS apps contained at least one high-risk vulnerability. The fact that 75% of these high-risk vulnerabilities could have been addressed with appropriate mobile application protection should turn even more heads. 

Moreover, another research orchestrated by Noname security and Alissa Knight, a former hacker, revealed shocking figures. The focus of the analysis was APIs enabling bank account information access to third-party financial services. The result? 54 out of 55 mobile applications that were reverse engineered contained hardcoded API keys and tokens, including usernames and passwords to third-party services. Alissa gained access to 54 banks and was able to change all of the banks' customers' PIN and easily move money from one bank account to another.

Why is one of the most sensitive areas of mobile, fintech app development, still not addressed properly in terms of security? ASEE summed up the risks and consequences of launching a financial app with insufficient protection on the market.

Top fintech security flaws in mobile applications

Access to source code and reverse engineering

Accessing the application's source code enables mapping out of the application's security blueprint. By gaining insight into the app's code, authentication and security layers, attackers can easily pinpoint existing vulnerabilities and exploit them. This technique falls under the reverse engineering category and is a proven hacker method causing headaches for security experts.

Insufficient data storage security

A study revealed that 77% of financial apps have at least one vulnerability that could lead to a data breach. This means that stored, confidential data is lying in an unprotected environment lacking basic encryption techniques. Examples of unprotected information include personal information, bank account information, credit/debit card numbers, social security numbers, and more.

Service sharing

Another issue lies in the high connectivity of applications and services. Almost every in-app purchasing application is autocompleting our payments data or fetching information from our banking applications. Everyone and everything is connected. Although convenient from the user's perspective, security matters remain an issue.

Lack of, or no encryption at all

Out of examined apps, 88% of tested financial applications showcased cryptographic issues. Having weak or no encryption at all opens doors for hackers to steal or tamper with confidential data, especially sensitive if talking about financial information. Finance apps should require the highest levels of encryption to make the decryption process so time-consuming that the attacker decides that it's just not worth the effort.

Imitation apps

Code tampering is one of the most common issues when talking about financial apps. Essentially, it allows hackers to design imitation apps containing malicious code that fetches confidential user data entered in the malicious application. Financial applications need to implement real-time detection and monitoring of any kind of code tampering in order to bypass the mentioned scenario.

App Protector in a nutshell

The aim of App Protector is to detect present anomalies, notify, and neutralize threats. In case of potential misuse, App Protector responds accordingly:

  • Generates false response values; making the attacker unable to continue the application misuse. 
  • Notifies the end-user of the application about a potential threat.  
  • Terminates the app in case of a high-risk anomaly. 

It comes in two modes: offline and online. Offline mode offers configuration which is hardcoded. On the other hand, the online mode comes with a portal allowing the administrator to select the wanted response for the individual security threat. App Protector detects and prevents mobile app threats, including jailbreaking/rooting, debugging, emulator fraud, hooking, and screen recording (for iOS).  

App protector download datasheet

In case you're curious, feel free to contact us - zero obligation. Our ASEE team will be happy to hear you out. 

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