In the modern age, everybody is bound to use smartphones. From emails, calls, listening to music to playing games, and have fun, smartphones have offered every digital amenity in our hands. It is all about apps in smartphones, which are just like software in computers. A report by Techjury suggested that smartphone users will download more than 258 billion apps by 2022. Also, an average user opens 8-10 apps every day.
It is visible that the users’ trend will go high day by day. But, it also opens the chance of attacks on the apps. Many apps on the Google Play Store have been hacked in previous years and led to some severe outcomes too. Hence, it has become essential for developers to bring advanced features in the apps and focus on security. Here, we have raised some points which will help developers to boost the security of their mobile apps while coding:
Types of Mobile Apps
Native Apps:- These apps are only built for a particular mobile-OS like iOS or Android. As the apps are made for a specific platform, they become optimized, work efficiently, and offer a better UX.
Hybrid Apps:- These apps are a blend of native and web apps. They support device features and rely on HTML and web servers at the same time.
How are They Vulnerable?
Mobile apps are built with thousands of lines of code. And sometimes, developers tend to shrug off the security concentration. Apps are allowed to connect to many APNs, which makes them open to more threats. Also, using APIs with no credibility can bring jeopardize your app data and make your app vulnerable. Apps with light encryption are too sensitive and expose users’ data to cyber attackers.
Types of Attacks on Mobile Apps
Browser-Based Attacks:- There are many browser-based attacks like phishing, clickjacking, and data-caching to man-in-the-middle attacks, browser-based attacks, and they all tend to happen over the web servers.
Phone/SMS Based Attacks:- Attackers tend to send malicious text messages on your phone or gain control over the device’s baseband.
OS-Based Attacks:- As the name suggests, attackers attack the device’s operating system. Android rooting and iOS jailbreak are some common surfaces on which these attacks take place.
App-Based Attacks:- Attackers tend to go through the vulnerabilities in the mobile app and capture sensitive user data.
Build a Secure App
According to OWASP secure coding practice, there are some tick boxes that must be filled in achieving a fully-fledged secure application.
- Write secure code
- Concentrate on data encryption
- Using authorized APIs only (like Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
- Managing every session properly
- Giving minimal privileges
- Testing the app rigorously
Code Obfuscation and Remediation help in increasing app security
As the app goes live, developers manage to get its source code from one place or another. As a developer, no one wants to give any code to an attacker who wishes to tamper your application or add some malicious script in it.
To stay away from such obscenities, code obfuscation and remediation are two techniques that can save a developer’s hard work. Obfuscation or Obscuring the code can make it difficult for hackers to glance into the operation of the app. These two techniques do not allow hackers to understand business logic and code. But yeah, attackers with higher-level skills will also take massive time and effort to circumvent these layers.
Modifying the source or machine code is what code obfuscation is. It will make it difficult for attackers to read the code and gain a foothold into the app so they can misuse it. To keep the functionality the same, obfuscation conceals the coder’s logic effectively. Code obfuscation may be done by encrypting some part of code or the entire code, changing the class or variable names, or hiding/removing sensitive metadata. However, this technology can only hinder the low-skilled attackers, but if the attacker has a higher skill level, then they can go through them.
The time it takes for them to ascend the app’s data and gain access will be ample heads up for your developers to take action & counter the attacks.
Here are some obfuscation tips & guidelines for developers that they should consider-
- Restrict debugger
- Trace Checks
- Monitor process status flags
- Check parent processes
- Compare program timestamps
- Blacklist debuggers
- Reduce the runtime manipulations
Remediation means an act of damage control. When it comes to mobile app security, rehabilitation consists of techniques that a developer can implement in their code to stop hackers from tampering their apps. Applying effective remediation techniques will make your app more complicated.
Don’t use simple logic tests
It is critical for app developers to avoid using simple logic tests because the simpler you use logic tests, the more it becomes easy to attack the app. Always remember that if an attacker changes only one value in a logic test, he can achieve around the security protocols. Always write the app code in a better programming paradigm. This can protect specified data, help a server enforce privileges, and also protect the data until the session is deemed.
Using Anti-Tamper techniques
Using these techniques can stop malicious execution and thwart the attacker’s attempts to reverse engineer an app. An app can crack a backdoor into the app and then re-sign it. An attacker usually targets popular and financial apps via this type of attack.
Attackers publish duplicate apps on third-party markets by inserting malicious functionality into the original app. To stop attackers, you must employ anti-tamper techniques that can hinder and frustrate attackers.
Security will be a significant focal point on mobile apps in the upcoming years. Developers will shift to more secure coding practices and ensure that their app follows the necessary security requirements. Coding practices like obfuscation and remediation help in protecting the logic of the app’s code and will give a tough time to hackers/attackers who infiltrate the code.
Although there is no application that is 100% breach proof, you can provide layers of security by implementing the coding techniques. If attackers or hackers want to steal sensitive data from the app, then they have to circumvent these security layers, which is quite impossible. Because it requires exceptional skills on their part, and also it takes a considerable amount of time to avoid these layers.
However, an app’s security depends on the entire SDLC software development cycle; it not only depends on the software coding. If you want to create a secure app, then the only way is building security into the SDLC.