Actionable Tips for Top-grade Security in Mobile Apps!

Actionable Tips for Top-grade Security in Mobile Apps!
mobile app security
Mobile apps have brought a revolutionary shift in everything around us. It has made a paradigm shift in how businesses and individuals operate in their respective capacities. This has helped to connect with the target audience very easily thereby boosting the profits in a big way. No wonder there is a huge demand for mobile application development worldwide. However, with the development of apps, come security nuances that businesses should not ignore. If the apps are not well-engineered against security threats, they can become an easy target for hackers to do malicious activities. So, companies must ensure that they proactively work on ‘how to build secured apps’ and also follow certain mobile app security standards during the development process.

Do you know what the hackers with malicious intention do?

  • Tamper your app’s code and reverse-engineer to create a hoax app containing malware.
  • Hack customer data and use for fraud or identity theft
  • Induce malware in the apps to access data, grab passcodes for screens, store keystrokes, etc.
  • Steal sensitive data, intellectual property, business assets, etc.
  • Access your IP and launch harmful attacks
Would you ever want something like this happening to your app? Never! So, mobile app security cannot be taken for granted. Yet, it is quite shocking that over 75% of the mobile apps fail to meet the basic security standards.
This blog outlines some of the crucial mobile app security measures that every mobile application development company must employ while they architecture their apps. Before we delve deeper, let us quickly glance at some common security lapses that could occur while architecting secured mobile apps.

Notable Security Lapses in the Mobile Application Development Process

  • Not checking the cache appropriately and not using a cache cleaning cycle
  • Not doing thorough testing of the app
  • Applying weak encryption algorithms or no algorithms at all
  • Utilizing an unreliable data storage system
  • Neglecting the Binary protection
  • Picking up a code written by hackers by mistake
  • Neglecting the transport layer security
  • Not ensuring the server-side security

Mobile App Security Best Practices

Mobile Application Development Process
Here are a few common security tips that are endorsed by various industry experts. These are applicable to both Android and iOS apps; however, some additional tips and guidelines are available for both platforms, which we will cover in another blog. That simply means, after applying the below practices, one can also implement best security practices for iOS app and Android app meant for respective platforms. For now, let’s get started with the common security measures for mobile apps.

App-code Encryption:

Encryption of the code and testing it for vulnerabilities is one of the most fundamental and crucial steps in the app development process. Before launching the app, mobile app developers protect the app code with encryption and practices like obfuscation and minification. Also, it is necessary to code securely for the detection of jailbreaks, checksum controls, debugger detection control, etc.

Data Encryption:

Along with the code encryption, it is essential to encrypt all the vital data that is exchanged over the apps. In the case of data theft, hackers shouldn’t be able to access and harm the data without the security key. So, key management must be a priority. File-level encryption secures the data in the files. The encryption of mobile databases is equally important. Also, various data encryption algorithms can be used like Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), Triple data integration standard, RSA technique, etc.

Robust Authentication:

If the authentication is weak, severe data breaches can take place. Hence, it is imperative to ensure a powerful authentication in the apps. Make sure that your app only allows strong passwords. Utilizing two-factor authentication is a good practice. Also, biometric authentications like a fingerprint, retina scan, etc. are widely being used these days in mobile apps to assure high security.

Protecting the Binary Files:

Negligence towards binary protection gives a free-hand to hackers for injecting malware in apps. It can even cause severe data thefts and lead to monetary losses ultimately. Therefore, binary hardening procedures must be utilized to ensure the protection of binary files against any threats. Several hardening techniques like Buffer overflow protection or Binary Stirring can be applied in this scenario.

Servers’ and other Network Connections’ Security:

The security of servers and network connections is an integral part of mobile app security as these are a leading target of hackers. To keep them secure, it is advisable to use an HTTPS connection. Also, the APIs must be thoroughly verified to shun from the spying of data that is transferred from the client to servers. Another security measure is to scan the app with the use of automated scanners frequently. Also, enhanced security can be ensured with encrypted connections or VPN i.e. a virtual private network.

API Security:

Since mobile application development hinges so much with the APIs, protecting them from threats is not an option but a necessity. APIs are the channels for the flow of data, functionality, content, etc. between the cloud, apps, and users. Vital security measures like authorization, authentication, and identification help in the creation of a secure and robust API. To enhance the app security, an API gateway can be integrated. Moreover, for secure communication between APIs, mobile app developers can use various authentications like OAuth and OAuth2.

Exhaustive Testing and Updating the Apps:

To speed up the time-to-market, testing usually falls to the sideways. But this step helps to avoid any anticipated security loopholes in the apps. So, before launching the apps and even after their launch, rigorous security testing must be conducted. Thus, potential security threats can be identified and resolved proactively. Also, updating the apps from time-to-time will help to eliminate the security bugs apart from other issues that arise in the apps after it is out in the market.

Code Signing Certificates:

Code signing certificates help in enhancing mobile code security. In this process, the certificate authority needs to digitally sign the scripts and executables. These certificates help in authenticating the author and assure that the code won’t be edited or tampered by anyone else. A Code Signing Certificate is a must for every publisher or mobile app developer.

Final Verdict:

Thousands of mobile apps arrive in the market daily, but if, they aren’t protected well, they can pose a threat to the entire ecosystem. Needless to say, hackers and fraudsters are lurking around to steal important data and destroy app security. On the contrary, a well-secured mobile app can prove to be highly efficient, reliable, and profitable for the business as well as the end-users.
So we can conclude that mobile app security holds the utmost importance in the whole process. A smart strategy along with the guidelines mentioned in this blog can help you build a powerful impeccable app with high-level security.
We hope this blog was helpful to you!
Do you have any other mobile app security measures to add to the above list?
Please comment and let us know your thoughts.

Security Vulnerabilities in React and Standard Practices to Overcome them!

Security Vulnerabilities in React and Standard Practices to Overcome them!
Security Vulnerabilities in React
Released in 2013, React, a robust front-end web library, became quickly popular amongst technical professionals worldwide. Today, this library is extensively being used by giants like Netflix, Facebook, Instagram, BBC, Whatsapp, and many more, owing to the myriad advantages it offers, as listed below:
  • Component Reusability
  • Routing and Templating
  • Speedy Rendering
  • Good Flexibility
  • Easier Learning Curve for Complex Procedures
  • Synchronization of app and interface status
  • SEO-friendliness
Besides these goodies, this technology is also considered to be highly secure due to the availability of several in-built protective mechanisms. Yet, some vulnerabilities can occur in the React apps and lead to unpredictable security leaks; which the React App development agencies must be aware of.
So, this blog will take you all through some common security flaws in React and guide you with the potential solutions as well. Let’s get started.

Crafting an app in React: Security Vulnerabilities and their Remedial Measures

Security Practices for App Development

SQL Injection Attack

This is another type of attack where the attackers can play with the user’s data regardless of their knowledge and approval. The attackers can extract sensitive user data, create new user credentials, replicate fake credentials, and thus, get admin authorities for accessing the server. SQL injections are of several types viz. time-based, logic-based, error-based, etc.
Possible Solution:
  • Using an SSL certificate from authorized sites
  • Validation of API call functions for particular API schemas
  • For time-based SQL injection, conducting timely validation of the schema for getting rid of the suspicious code injections

Cross-site Attacks

Cross-site scripting attack is a common yet serious security flaw that React Apps have to go through. It occurs when the attackers or hackers trick a website by executing an arbitrary JavaScript code. These attacks are of two types- stored attack and reflected attack.
  1. Stored cross-site attack: In these, the attacker accesses the server and extracts the data from the client’s web page when the code is executed.
  2. Reflected cross-site attack: In these attacks, the attackers place a link with sensitive user information that will run in the browser.
Possible Solution:
Cross-site scripting can be performed only when the code execution is done in a browser with some particular instructions. So the mark-up that holds the instructions for code execution needs to be disabled by the React app developers.

Server-side Rendering Vulnerability

In case a developer renders an application from the server-side, the server-side rendering attack is likely to take place. It can lead to the unknown monitoring of the application, data leakages, etc. This issue is quite difficult to detect when the context data is not found properly.
Possible Solution:
  • utilizing the serialize JS with NPM module for escaping the rendered JSON
  • cross-checking and monitoring regularly if any issues persisting in server-side data validation are reported and worked upon

Execution of Arbitrary Code or Commands

When the attackers run the arbitrary codes or commands on a particular process, the application can get highly vulnerable. It usually takes place in the software or the hardware that processes the arbitrary code. ‘Arbitrary code execution exploit’- a special program is used for this security issue and if it gets exposed to public products and services, it can expose the data of all the concerned individuals who buy and use those products and services.
Possible Solution:
  • making sure that the application only reads the tokens that are previously stored while developing the app
  • ensuring that the system can only create relevant headers by authentication of the request by making a request to the server

Inadequate End-to-End Encryption

Lacking end-to-end encryption is the major cause of security lapses and data breaches occurring in the apps made using React. The inclusion of third-party APIs also leads to these issues affecting the safety and privacy of data.
Possible Solution:
  • utilization of private and public-key encryption
  • utilization of the encryptjs and cryptojs libraries
  • using asymmetric algorithms like RSA for encrypting the primary key of a react app

‘Insecure Randomness’ Issue

This issue takes place when the attackers add a malicious code that begins with JavaScript or a link in the apps. This script runs in the browsers as soon as the users click the planted link. Thus, attackers get the admin authority and they can pull sensitive data or alter the data and hence makes the application very insecure. Also, they get control over the uniform resource identifier and several elements in the apps are vulnerable to threats.
Possible Solution:
  • conducting integrity investigations for inspecting and avoiding the injection of suspicious links and codes
  • creating links with the usage of whitelisted protocol and using HTML entities
  • employing strict restrictions to create code objects that can avoid insecure randomness
  • isolating the code from other codes

Significant Security Measures for React Application Development

Diverse security vulnerabilities can occur in the React apps and identifying their reasons can be impossible at times. Hence, the firms using the React Library can proactively follow some preventive actions as below:
  • Install and configure Linters to automatically detect the security lapses in code and provide remedial advice.
  • In the past, some versions of this library possessed high-risk vulnerabilities, however, they have been removed in the latest versions. Hence, it is a good practice to use the updated version always.
  • Some dependencies and third-party components may be more prone to security issues and so using their latest versions is recommended.
  • Zip Slip issue crops up due to the overwritten arbitrary files along with the directory transversal issue. For this, the developers can either use fixed versions of the archive processing libraries or can utilize a dependency vulnerability checking tool like Snyk.
  • Library codes are used for threatening operations like inserting HTML into the DOM. Developers should avoid libraries that use unsafe patterns like ‘innerHTML’ and ‘dangerouslySetInnerHTML’ or other unvalidated URLs.
  • It is necessary to avoid suspicious or dangerous URLs. For avoiding URL-based script injection, use validation, and ensure that the used links are ‘https:’ or ‘http:’

Key Takeaways:

In today’s digital era, the security of software apps holds monumental importance. Security lapses can result in data leaks and high-risk cyber-crimes. So, it is essential to consider the security pitfalls right from the initial stages of developing a React application. The developers and the quality analysts as well should keep an eye on such vulnerabilities and eliminate them from time-to-time.
All this requires not only the knowledge and experience of the development teams but also needs attention to detail and thoughtful decision-making when these vulnerabilities crop up.
Also, have a glance at our blog here for gaining insights on general security tips in mobile applications.
Here ends our blog!
I hope it was insightful and will benefit several developers employing this library in their projects.
Please comment in the below section and let us know about any other security vulnerabilities you faced in building apps with React.