When your organization hires a mobile developer, you put your trust in the respective person or company to build a reliable, useful and safe app. However, ultimately, the liability for every situation which may occur when a user interacts with your app belongs to you. This is why you should be actively involved in every phase of the app building process, especially at the end when your app is tested before its launch.
Not being technically inclined is no excuse for not knowing exactly how safe your app is and how protected it is against potential hacking. Your app developer will know how to give you the salient details in terms you understand and will help you make the best choice when you have to trade off functionality for increased security or vice-versa.
But, in order to get all the information you need, you need to ask the right questions. Here are the most important mobile app security questions and why you need to know the answers to them:
1. Is the Backend Data Storage as Secure as the App Itself?
Most apps collect and store user data. For instance, if you require your app users to authenticate by username and password when accessing your app, this information will be stored on a server connected with the app. In this situation, both the app installed on the users’ phones and the cloud storage facility need to be secured at similar levels.
A data leak is just as bad as exposing your users’ smartphones to hacking and viruses. Such a situation will not only damage your reputation, but it may also take you to court for negligence in protecting your customers’ personal data.
2. How Does Enhanced Security Impact User Experience?
Whenever your developers propose installing an extra security layer, you should always know exactly how the average usage scenarios change. Will users need to go through 2-step verifications at every point when they access a sensitive part of the app (purchase, payment, etc.)? Will this new security layer slow down your app on older and low-end performance devices?
It is important to have all the information in order to decide which tradeoff is more acceptable or advisable for your app. For example, if you handle sensitive customer data, convenience in accessing the app is an acceptable tradeoff.
3. Do Third Party Providers Perform Their Own Security Verifications?
Some apps feature third party widgets or code sequences. Generally speaking, this is a potential security vulnerability. However, if you really need the respective third party integration, you should always know to what extent their providers perform security tests and provide security patches whenever they are necessary.
4. Have You Safeguarded the App against Reverse Engineering?
Reverse engineering is when someone takes an app code, goes back to its initial development phases and inserts commands of their own. These commands are most likely malicious ones, which are meant to take control over the phone of any user unwittingly installing the modified app.
If your app starts having many malicious copycats, you will be held liable for any damages incurred by users and your own authentic app will lose reputation and will get banned together with the modified ones from app stores.
5. Is HTTPS Encryption Enforced on the User Interactions?
It is never a good idea to let the user decide on using HTTPS encryption. Most of them do not know how to do it or why it is important to do it. And failure to enforce this encryption does not protect you from a potential lawsuit from a disgruntled user whose device was infected by a virus. It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to protecting your users and offering them a functional and safe app.