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Mobile Application Security Checklist: Enable Growth Without Interruptions

August 25, 2022
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The most vital step in assuring enterprise application security is to establish that the application itself is risk-free and the data it contains are protected.  This requires consistent efforts regarding security checks throughout the entire mobile application development lifecycle.

The most vital step in assuring enterprise application security is to establish that the application itself is risk-free and the data it contains are protected.  This requires consistent efforts regarding security checks throughout the entire mobile application development lifecycle.

Regardless of the security component integrated into the development of the applications, with the threats landscape evolving, so should the security measures that are added on top of existing ones.

To keep yourself on the right path to a secure enterprise mobile application ASEE provides you with the ultimate mobile application security checklist to aid you along the way.

Mobile application security checklist

1. Secure the application source code

Source code is the foundation of every mobile application development process. Today, most mobile application developers use open-source code. Although there is nothing wrong with using open-source, keep in mind that it requires adequate security measures.

Reverse engineering techniques allow hackers to make exact copies of your mobile application and use it for malicious acts.  To prevent this and similar scenarios from happening, include code obfuscation as a proactive measure of securing your code.

Code obfuscation is the process of altering the initial code in a way that a hacker cannot interpret, while the code remains fully functional. For a layered approach and enhanced security, use several different code obfuscation techniques on top of each other.

2. Protect your mobile communication

Data transfers flowing from the user side to the application, especially sensitive data such as login credentials and payment information, need proper security measures.  Man-in-the-Middle attacks allow hackers to intercept communication and alter the contents of the data flow.  Spoofed Wi-Fi networks and high connectivity of devices with the 5G network pose a significant risk in case confidential data is revealed.

End-to-end encryption, VPN, HTTPS, SSL, and TLS provide a sufficient amount of encryption that secures the data in transit.

3. Consider pen testing

Pen testing, or penetration testing, is a helpful tool for examining the security of your mobile application from the hacker's perspective.  Penetration testing discovers vulnerabilities invisible to the human eye and pinpoints existing issues.

Pen testing commonly includes:

  • Password policy checks
  • Data encryption
  • Third-party app permissions
  • Password expiry protocols

Perform pen testing at least once a year to make sure no significant issues emerge.

4. Multi-factor authentication is a must

Considering how easy it is to perform a brute-force attack, gear up your app with additional security through multi-factor authentication. Authentication is the pillar of reducing the risk of unauthorized access and hacks based on password guessing.

Multi-factor authentication requires the presence of at least two out of three authentication factors.  Choosing from knowledge, possession, or inherence authentication factors, you are protecting the app from unauthorized access with authentication methods such as push notification, fingerprint, and OTP (One Time Pin / Password).  The more methods you implement, the higher the security of the app.

To go a step further, you can restrict the login attempts to a specific time of day and location of the user using the app.

5. Try to stay away from personal devices

In order to exclude the cost of providing employees with mobile devices for business purposes, many companies encourage them to use their personal ones.  In case a device is jailbroken or rooted, the security restrictions of the device are automatically set to a minimum.  On the other hand, developers who are using their own devices for testing tend to unintentionally transfer malware from one device to another.  This may or may not infect the entire network of the organization.

This can be avoided by equipping your team with mobile devices that have restricted access to a handful of applications that perform particular functions.

6. Prevent data leaks

In case your organization is providing employees with mobile devices for business purposes, it is a good practice to separate business apps from commercial ones.  Data leak prevention is also ensured by keeping away from copy and paste functions, blocking the screenshot feature, watermarking confidential files, and steering clear of saving sensitive files on the mobile device.

7. Implement Runtime Application Self-Protection

The RASP mechanism detects and prevents attacks in real-time while the app is in runtime. It enables the monitoring of suspicious app activity and compares it to the standard application behavior. In case an anomaly is detected, the app with integrated  RASP technology responds accordingly.

The threat responses can be anything from notifying the end user that the app might be under attack to terminating the mobile application altogether.  It all depends on how the application owners customize the threat responses.

Moreover, RASP is a proven tool for the successful prevention of account takeover attacks and malicious code injection through hooking attacks. Other mobile application threats that don't stand a chance when RASP is in question are jailbroken devices, debuggers for reverse engineering attacks, and screen recording typical for iOS devices.

8. Secure APIs

APIs do wonders in enhancing the functionality of your application.  However, adding functionality oftentimes means interconnecting your app with third-party services that require the exchange of potentially sensitive information.  To prevent exposing data, make sure to use highly secure APIs.

9. Stop saving passwords

For better user experience, most mobile applications don't require the user to log in every time they use a specific app.  However, in the case of a stolen or lost mobile device, saved passwords are a free ride for a bad actor to do significant damage given access to an app.

10. Implement access management

Enterprises are facing the need to empower their mobile workforce. Flexibility and agility are key when it comes to enabling the remote mode of work. In order to stay on top of efficiency and achieve their business goals, enterprises are remaining competitive by enabling access to company applications from any place at any time. This includes securing these remote endpoints and assuring that the user accessing sensitive information within a corporate app is exactly who they say they are. By implementing access management, your IT security department can easily authenticate both users and devices, update and configure settings, as well as manage a number of mobile devices through a centralized console.

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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