From the rapid growth of mobile platforms today to the coming deluge of IoT and wearable devices, there was never a better time to be an app developer. Whether you are an enterprise developing business intelligence applications or an indie developer interested in making the next Flappy Bird, the potential is limitless. But the elephant in the room, of course, is security.
As developers, our core focus tends to be on overcoming engineering and logical challenges, culminating in the display of our sheer creativity to the world at large. We understand that security is important, but want to believe that our apps are only as secure as the platform they run on. Of course, we know this to be not true, but we continue to lie to ourselves, turning a blind eye to the voice of reason at the back of our heads.
If you find yourself nodding in agreement, it’s time to make a vow to yourself to stop. Security is no more about the exploration of theoretical exploits by long-bearded academics. The threat to mobile applications is real, and it’s larger than ever.
Here are 5 reasons why security needs to come first in mobile app development.
#1 Cyber attacks are increasing and getting more intricate
As attacks like Stagefight, CORED, YiSpecter, and Masque showed, there’s no end to ways in which mobile security vulnerabilities can be exploited. The bad news is such attacks are only increasing in number and getting more and more intricate. This is why despite stringent security guidelines and constant monitoring by the likes of App Store, new vulnerabilities fund their way in regularly.
#2 Critical data is at stake
When you develop field apps for enterprises, you may not realize just how much is at stake. Consider the devices used by doctors, nurses and physicians on their daily job – this is extremely sensitive data about the patients that need to remain guarded. Same goes for devices used by CAs and brokers. If such information falls into the hands of wrong-minded people, there’s no telling what kind of storm will be kicked up.
#3 You are responsible for users’ data
It’s one thing when an app asks too many suspicious permissions on one’s phone, and quite another when it gets compromised in unforeseen ways. Once your app gets installed on a user’s system, like it or not, you become liable for any loss resulting from vulnerabilities. Even if your app doesn’t ask for privileged permissions, it can be taken over or fooled into doing things it wasn’t meant for. If something like this ever happens, you’ll be hard pressed to find a way out.
#4 Your infrastructure is at stake
With an app that has access to communicate freely with the server and is compromised, there’s no telling how much damage an attacker can inflict. It’s possible to not only ship sensitive information and access tokens to the attacker but also take control of your infrastructure if it’s not optimally secured.
#5 Basic security measures are easy to implement
The last but not the least reason is that security measures are easy to build in mobile apps. Static analyzers like Devknox make it a breeze to not just find vulnerabilities in your code, but also tell you how to fix them instantly. With tools so powerful and simple, the excuse that “security feels like a lot of extra burden for nothing” just doesn’t apply.
We have reached a point in mobile app development when security just can’t be an afterthought. Way too much is at stake to think like that. It’s time that just like the “mobile first” movement in web app development, the mobile app developers adopt a “security first” mindset in mobile app development.