Several well-known businesses, like Yahoo, Snapchat, Starbucks, Target, Home Depot, etc., have recently experienced a public relations disaster. If so, why do you think that is? Simply because an adversary discovered a weakness and learned how to exploit it.
In reality, when getting a latte from Starbucks or playing Angry Birds, hardly one gives much thought to mobile security or data privacy. Users typically assume that developers will have already taken care of security if it was a priority at all. They assume that because the software is made by a well-known brand, it is safe to use.
For this reason, businesses and developers need to take measures to address concerns about mobile app security at an earlier point in the development process. Keeping your customer’s faith is crucial to your company’s success. Though there are many potential security issues, we’ve compiled a list of common ones that can be fixed during app development.
1. Insecure Data Storage
One of the most downloaded and used mobile payment apps in the United States is the Starbucks app. After consumers have activated the payment section of the app, they just need to enter their passwords once to make unlimited purchases using the app.
In terms of convenience, this may seem fantastic. On January 16, 2014, it was discovered that the Starbucks mobile app, the most popular app in the United States with 10 million customers, was keeping user credentials in plain text format. After CNBC’s announcement that users’ personal information had been stolen, three million people uninstalled the programme. The app dropped from the fourth most profitable app to the twenty-sixth in just one day. Starbucks hurriedly released an update later that week, but by then it was too late.
Users’ geolocation tracking points were also shown in the Clear text. Unauthorized users would have access to the Starbucks website with this data in hand. A common practise is to reuse login credentials between several online services. This suggests that further user accounts may have been compromised.
To ensure the safety of sensitive data like passwords and credit card details, developers should avoid storing them locally on users’ devices. If so, it’s imperative that they be kept in a safe place. Always use an app’s backup disable feature and save data in an encrypted data sector.
2. SSL Issues
SSL problems are extremely widespread in mobile applications. In most cases, developers don’t spend much time learning about SSL applications, which leads to sloppy code. The SSL certificates are not always checked, therefore TrustManager is frequently not working. Without effective transport layer security, your app is wide open to attack.
3. Data Leakages
Companies are on a data collection tear. After all, tailoring promotions to individual customers is a major focus for online companies nowadays. However, it is crucial that the need to collect such information doesn’t endanger the privacy of the individual customer.
Recent media coverage, for instance, suggested that the NSA was using Angry Birds and other popular smartphone apps to harvest the vast amounts of personally identifiable information (PII) that these apps collect. The term “leaky” app refers to this kind of software.
Not only do apps for regular users need to be concerned, but enterprise apps as well. First, picture a mobile app used in healthcare that keeps tabs on how often a patient suffers a given ailment. The provider would be in breach of HIPAA regulations if the app included analytics that revealed how often a given area of the app was viewed by each user.
We’ve looked through a lot of apps, and we’ve found a lot of them using subpar analytics and advertising APIs. Hackers regularly scavenge for this kind of information, so it’s crucial to keep tabs on the what, how, when, and where of your data’s movement.
4. Untrusted Inputs
Without proper encryption, attackers can easily access cookies and environment variables sent to mobile apps from a variety of sources. Attackers can get around your defences if authentication and authorisation choices are made based on the values of these parameters.
In 2012, for instance, hackers exploited a security hole in Skype that allowed them to launch the software and dial any phone number they wanted by including a specially crafted link in an email. In a similar vein, hackers were able to eavesdrop on calls made on iPhones running iOS 1.1 when they were linked to unprotected Wi-Fi networks. Checks should be built into the development process of every software that takes data from the outside world.
This is a complicated situation, but it’s not unheard of. Keep in mind that even the most intuitive app is useless if it puts sensitive business information at risk.
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