5 mobile app security risks you just can’t ignore

App security risks, Kays Harbor

This new age of mobile technology has not only given us the best of utilities like shopping, healthcare, gaming, entertainment and education. It is also helping businesses grow, create new opportunities and make our lifestyle and work easier. Isn’t it?

Mobile apps are essentially the key driver of this exponential rise of technological innovation. Kays Harbor Technologies team believes that soon we will be termed as the Mobile-First generation. Let's see what else they think about mobile apps and their risks.

There’s a flip side to the story as well. Apart from the conveniences mobile phones offer, this vast mobile ecosystem is extensively interconnected and unfortunately a potential target of the growing dark world of technology.

Let’s get some quick facts about the security risks that loom over this rapidly increasing mobile ecosystem:

The mobile app revolution has a new downside: the growing underworld behind it. Thus, it is evident that Mobile Security has become a pressing issue which calls for a definite solution. But before finding a solution, we need to know the risks that pose a threat to a mobile app’s security. After all, 90% of our time on a mobile phone is spent within apps.

As mobile app developers, it’s important for us to understand these risks so that we can take corrective measures in the development stage itself.

The top 5 mobile app security risks

Data is at the heart of any application. With each passing day, structured as well as unstructured data stored by apps is multiplying infinite folds. With this, the problem of unsafe storage of sensitive data poses as one of the greatest threats to the technology ecosphere, especially the unsafe storage of the following type of data:

  • Financial data
  • Passwords
  • Geospatial data/location specific data
  • Personal information
  • Device information
  • Transaction histories

Additionally, enterprise data is more prone to these risks since the data involved is highly valuable and confidential. Inefficient EMM (Enterprise Mobility Management), non-encrypted data storage, unauthorized access, and inefficient anti-viruses/anti-malware integrations raise the chances of vulnerability of enterprise data.

Malicious data can be injected using code Injection and SQL injection techniques at the server side as well as at the client side. All these have a severe technical impact if the app is linked to multiple user accounts and its business impact includes loss of sensitive information.

Injection mainly comprises of two forms:

  • Code injection attack: Mobile apps based on HTML5 are prone to Cross Server Site Scripting(XSS) type attacks. These are far more severe than any other attack on web applications. A typical XSS attack includes injecting malicious JavaScript code into form fields.
  • SQL injection: Databases including SQLite are prone to injection through SQL queries causing risk to the apps that have a wide user base. This acts as a threat to user identity as well as their data.
  • Local file uploads: Sometimes apps act as a medium to upload unknown files to the server. They pose a risk to the server system and its existing data by storing unauthentic and malicious content to the directory structure.

Servers are prone to the following risks due to these injection attacks:

  • Loss of data
  • Loss of user info
  • Corrupt database
  • Server system failure

Third party devices, apps, scripts or files having unauthorized access to the app can act as prospective threats to your apps security. Poor authentication can expose device details and sensitive information to third party ad libraries. These APIs have access to GPS location and device information.

Also, you cannot miss out on the fact that shared libraries inherit all the app permissions. All these are a result of less strict authorization and adherence to the norms of secure mobile app development.

Mobile devices rank on the top of the list for being susceptible to sensitive data leakage through wireless transmission. Most apps transfer huge amounts of data over the network. This can be through sockets, wireless transmission, HTTP requests or emails. As a result, servers are exposed to high degree of vulnerability.

The fifth security risk is because most developers/companies have their mobile app data encrypted by the widely used but technically insufficient cryptographic algorithms like MD5 and SHA1. These do not align with the modern security requirements. Attackers can easily and intelligently decrypt such data.

One such example is Skype. It used SQLite3 databases for storing users’ chat data and contact lists with one major bug: their files were not encrypted. This could have led to a potential mass leakage of private information across the web had it not been fixed.

Improper key management for data hashes and usage of hard-coded keys is again a major area for attackers to take advantage of. Consider an app storing similar data keys across all installations. No wonder this app would be under the scrutiny of hackers and an easy target for them!

With so many risks becoming a vital cause of concern, what ensures security at all layers? The answer is:

  • Better authentication techniques
  • Secure data storage
  • Robust architecture
  • Efficient testing
  • Secure payment gateways
  • Secure server communication… and the list goes on

The key idea is to follow the best mobile app development practices that guarantee secure and risk-free mobile apps. It is thus imperative of a mobile app to be not just about UI and functionality. It should be a secure environment that promises its users amazing experience and utility.

Enterprises and business owners should hence be more aware of the intricacies and the risks on their app security and take effective measures to safeguard it. Building mobile apps that have a secure code has become vital to the app development process and we emphasize this approach to be incorporated at the foundation itself.

At Kays Harbor, we help simplify this task for you. We offer cost effective, planned and strategized mobile app solutions that have security at their core.

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About the author
Kays Harbor Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
Kays Harbor Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
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In its pursuit of focus, and delivering best to our clients Kays has been able to develop strong expertise in the area of Mobile Applications Development. Our Apps encompass myriad domains ranging from complex Telemedicine portals to Utility Apps that help users to manage their goals to On Demand applications with real time ordering mechanism that enables users to order from anywhere, anytime.

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