9 Top Security Measures for Android Application Development

The number of global smartphone users is currently estimated at 6.8 billion, which is a 4.2% increase compared to the start of 2022. As a business, you ought to tap into this consumer trend. You can create custom-made Android apps to enhance customer experience. For that, you need to closely monitor mobile app security for better protection against vulnerabilities.

To put this threat into perspective, over 5M mobile malware, adware, and riskware attacks were blocked by Kaspersky Security in Q2 2022! Well, you can prevent this by securing your Android apps right from the development lifecycle. We have compiled some top security tips for your Android app development:

Keep your Native Code Secure

For starters, you should keep your Android code to defend against common vulnerabilities. You should choose the correct development platform and tools. You should focus on applying Android NDK or Android Software Development Kit (SDK). Moreover, the Application should be secured with code safety as it can be achieved with a Code Signing Certificate. It not only hashes the code but ensures that the code has not been altered since it is signed.

By using NDK, it will boost the application’s speed and help in easily port and run C++ in your app. It lessens application functionality and increases complexity, which poses a security threat.

Android SDK also allows developers to keep associated data and the business app separate from the client’s mobile device, which is also a good way to enhance mobile app security.

Use Code Obfuscation

Your mobile app is your intellectual property and is prone to theft from other developers or malicious people. You must strive to keep it safe. An excellent way to protect your source code would be to implement code obfuscation. By using this method, you can make your code incomprehensible so the software remains functional. Code Obfuscation can safeguard applications from reverse engineering. It makes it harder for another developer to use the finished product to recreate your app, make a few changes, and start profiting from your hard work. Most importantly, code obfuscation increases confidentiality plus it ensures nobody can penetrate the code in a bid to decipher ways to breach your entire system.

Use High-level Authentication

A simple password is not a guarantee for your mobile app’s safety during its development. It is essential to apply multi-factor authentication and it should be allowed users to verify their identity once they successfully enter a password.

For instance, the app could encourage users to scan their fingerprints or input a code generated from a software token only a few people can access.

With multi-factor authentication, you are better protected from attacks like Brute-force and Dictionary attacks.

Encrypt your Data

Information transits through your mobile app’s source code and the back-end server. As you develop an app for your business, consider that your clients will share all kinds of confidential data with you through your mobile app. The data stored on devices should be kept separately from the rest of the data. In case of app infiltration, hackers can access all data, which puts your users at risk.

Encryption is a safe way to keep data separate from hackers. For example, you could also enable certificate pinning, a technique that restricts access to client-server connections to only the authorized certificates, reducing man-in-the-middle attacks.

Secure the Server

The server API is simply the processing interface between your Android app and the server. Hackers know that when they attack the API, they would have struck a gold mine! They could also try to cripple your mobile app functionality by attacking the API.

It is therefore securing the server, which at last secures the app during its post-development. An SSL certificate from a reliable CA can secure the data flowing between the server and an app.

Use Strong Input Validations Techniques

Remember, there are users who will be using your Android app to input and retrieve information. In this regard, any unauthorized data could trigger a malfunction on your app or even a breach! So, ensure that only correctly formed and acceptable data is fed to your app from the user end.

Input validation techniques are a great way to test the input data your app receives against a set of rules you have defined in your code. This is essential in protecting against attacks like Cross-Site Scripting and SQL injection.

You should thus restrict the input types you allow in your UI text boxes, then validate whether the inputs meet your pre-defined rules. It is also good to add a layer of validation for your input on the backend site.

Tip: Ensure the input is in its simplest form to improve your user experience as you factor in security.

Detect Code Tamper

A hacker can strike anytime, even during the app development process, particularly given you are using third-party libraries in your code. An excellent way to detect any instances of suspicious third-party code would be to install anti-tamper software.

The tamper software should help you with activity logs, anti-virus protection, and other measures to prevent any unwanted changes, mods, and hacks on your Android app. It will thus protect against malice like attempts to re-sign the application or any attempted modification of the application’s main executable.

Conduct Regular Tests and Updates

Letting your users run outdated software gives leeway for hackers to exploit vulnerabilities and easily infiltrate your system to access your precious data. Just in the same way you do functionality and requirement testing during development, you also need proper security testing. During the development lifecycle, you will also need to do proper Manual Security Testing, Web Service Security Testing, and App (client) Security Testing.

It is also always advisable to keep your Android app up to date. Remember, a new release of Android tends to come with features. This will include things like behavior changes aimed at making Android more helpful, more secure, and more performant. Of course, in many cases your Android app will work as it used to but it is always good to keep tabs on the new updates for security reasons.

Confidentiality and Security

The US Government created and implemented the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) as a guidebook for developers to protect sensitive or classified information. The AES stipulates that your encryption key be at least 128 bits. Since the key is a string of bits generated randomly, you are assured it is very unpredictable, highly unique to your app, and difficult to crack.

Well, use the hash (#) key and pin your certificates to ensure your app is hack-proof. The request you send comprises a secret key and a hashed string of random bits. When the server compares the request you sent with the one it received, it will proceed to verify any modification you make since the key is unique and can only come from you.

Wrapping Up

Briefly, many businesses have fallen victim to malware attacks and other cybersecurity threats because they failed to be proactive. Cybercriminals often target tech infrastructure including Android apps. So, ensure you take proactive cybersecurity steps as you develop your mobile apps to protect your business and clients from common mobile app security threats!

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