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Nowadays, you’ll find more and more mobile apps coming onto the market, and you’ll even see there’s been exponential growth in the use of internet-connected smartphones in companies across the world.
With the increase of enterprise mobile apps, it has become inevitable for these enterprises to adhere to security requirements and compliance commitments. If you have a fail-proof enterprise mobile security solution, you can prevent any damage to your brand, government penalties, financial loss, and intellectual property theft.
Unfortunately, the usual cybersecurity approaches do not provide the essential security to safeguard against mobile application vulnerabilities. It’s important to understand the best practices for mobile app security before you implement them yourself.
How to Keep Enterprise Mobile Apps Secure
Many employees download apps that can access enterprise assets or perform business functions. Unfortunately, these apps have little or no security assurances, and they are almost always exposed to attacks and violations of enterprise security policies.
The Essential Mobile App Security Ecosystem
While an end-to-end security strategy is the end goal, this section focuses on mobile security features that focus on the mobile endpoint, its data, and apps, including:
Environmental and Biometric Sensors
Sensors in the device like video/still image capture, sound, geolocation, motion, fingerprint or iris scanner, proximity, orientation, acceleration, humidity, and ambient temperature should comply with the company’s data capture policies, and the user should be selectively controlled by a Mobile Device Management (MDM).
Device Access Control
Including this secures physical access to devices by requiring successful recognition of the policy-defined password, voice or facial scan, pattern swipe, or even biometric scan.
Content Management / Data Loss Prevention
You can have software security that uses encrypted on-device data storage, policy-defined cut-and-paste controls that will prevent data leakage, and website access control through URL filtering. This restricts the intentional non-compliant sharing of protected data or content.
Encrypted Data Storage
A good security measure is to have cipher-encoded protected data stored on the device, whether in volatile memory, removable storage, or persistent memory.
Application Management and Security
You can use a MAM to secure access and deployment of approved enterprise mobile apps. This includes the ability to whitelist compliant apps, and blacklist non-compliant apps. MAM services typically incorporate an enterprise app store that provides a central location to distribute, download and track policy-compliant mobile applications for use by employees.
Enterprise Mobile Application Security Checklist
1. Have in-App Login Verification
In order to protect your enterprise app from unauthorized users accessing it, you need to have a strong login verification page. This acts as one of your best mobile app defenses.
Adding a Single Sign-on (SSO) makes it more powerful and restricts any trespassers into the app. This is a budget-friendly method to log in to apps that have a single password to the employee. Remember, each employee requires a unique password in order to maintain authorized access to business verticals.
2. Assess the Risk Factors
You need to be able to assess the security risks based on the severity and categorize them into groups based on the overall effect on the functioning of your mobile application. To do this, you need to check everything right from the source code to the final version of the app and its data. The security of enterprise apps is extremely important as it helps increase business.
3. Choose a Good Enterprise App Distribution Store
Once the design phase is over, you need to choose the method of distribution for the app. Since the information in these apps for businesses is sensitive and private, developers should limit the number of downloads to limit access to authorized people only.
4. Keep Your Data and Server Secure
A good mobile app development agency knows that apart from authorized access, you need to protect your server and database. You need to have layers of security for data transition through app testing and API security.
Mobile app developers can secure the start and endpoints of the data flow in order to keep the moving data safe. You need to ensure the app goes through two types of security checks – Dynamic Application Security Test (DAST) and Static Application Security Test (SAST).
Ways to Improve Enterprise Mobile App Security
1. Consider Mobility Security in Advance
Mobile app security should be your top priority when creating a mobile app. Having a mobile app security checklist during your initial phases can help guide and identify possible security situations during the mobile application development and deployment.
By doing this, you can assess any impending data attacks, advanced threats, and even correct any performance issues for the app. Without a doubt, it will help your company handle the cost-implications in the end.
2. Scrutinize Development Framework and OS Vulnerabilities
If your company is deploying mobile apps on operating systems or legacy platforms, it can increase the chances of security attacks. It’s wise to use the latest platforms because it can help mitigate security risks. The latest platform should have frequent updates that fix the security patches, along with advanced data protection aspects.
3. Encode the Credentials
It is important to limit access to the application data by building a gateway as part of the preliminary security audit. This makes it harder for hackers to steal your enterprise app data and misuse it. For employees who use an enterprise app, it is essential to make passwords for access mandatory for all users.
4. Secure Application Data on Device
Like it or not, the data stored on devices can be recovered if lost. However, the enterprise should understand that it can still bring in potential risks. You need to make use of proven encryption methods like 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard symmetric-key algorithm standards if you wish to store data in the form of databases and files on a device.
Moreover, when creating the mobile app security strategy, it’s best if you do not forget the encryption key management.
5. Strong User Authentication
Two highly fundamental components of mobile application security is user authentication and authorization. This includes a critical consideration of features like identity management, session management, user privacy, and device security.
Implementing 2FA (two-factor authentication) and MFA (multi-factor authentication) can help foster in creating tried-and-tested security technologies.
Take Control of Your Compliance Challenges
EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
This is a legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information of individuals within the European Union (EU). The GDPR sets out the principles for data management and the rights of the individual, while also imposing fines that can be revenue-based.
Mobile apps like those provided to consumers that contain or process personally identifiable information (PII) should be secured against theft or exposure. These apps and devices need mobile security solutions to avoid DNA (device, network, and app) attacks.
Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)
This is a set of security standards that are designed to ensure ALL companies that accept, process, transmit, and store credit card information keep and maintain a secure environment.
More and more smart devices are being used to process transactions, and for PCI DSS compliance, mobile devices should be considered “endpoints” just like how point of sale (POS) terminals, servers, and personal computers are. As mentioned before, you need mobile security solutions to avoid any DNA attacks.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
HIPAA is a United States legislation that gives data privacy and security provisions to secure medical information. It’s much easier to store and present patient data to doctors and patients alike through mobile devices and apps.
In order to have HIPAA compliance, these mobile devices also need to be considered as endpoints. Mobile apps that contain and process patient data should definitely be secured against attacks, even on patient-owned devices.
Check out one of our article where we talk about the Things You Need to Know in Developing HIPAA-Compliant Healthcare Software
If there are US government organizations moving to the cloud, they need to ensure they are FedRAMP compliant. Cloud providers like Microsoft Azure and AWS address many infrastructure layer security needs but as a part of the shared security responsibility model, agencies and departments need to safeguard what they keep IN the cloud.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
It might seem daunting to achieve compliance with NIST 800-53 or NIST FCI but if you choose a good mobile application development agency, you wouldn’t have a problem at all. It is a non-regulatory government agency developing technology, standards, and metrics in order to drive innovation and economic competitiveness in US-based companies in the field of science and technology.
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation Critical Infrastructure Protection (NERC CIP)
This plan is a set of requirements that are designed to secure the assets needed to operate North America’s bulk electric system. The CIP standards cover everything from identifying and categorizing assets to making sure security plans that restrict physical and electronic access are in place.
Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB)
Under this scheme, any agency that the Privacy Act 1988 covers should notify the affected individuals and the OAIC if/when a data breach is likely to lead to serious harm to a person whose sensitive information is involved.
- A data breach occurs when
- A device with a customer’s information is stolen or lost.
- A database that has personal information is hacked
- When personal information is given to the wrong person by accident.
Ensure IP Protection
Intellectual property comprises any creation of the mind and includes artwork, inventions, designs, and images among other things.
If you’re looking to improve the security of your mobile app and you might have to work with a third party, you need to consider securing your intellectual property so no one else can claim it was their idea.
There are other ways to protect your intellectual property but most people rely on trademarks, copyrights, and patents to protect their intellectual property.
There is a lot more to enterprise mobile app security than just MDM or MAM. It’s important to incorporate each phase of data access and integration- from mobile edge to cloud core.
Sometimes, employees download apps that have the ability to access corporate assets or business functions, and these apps do not have much security assurance. This poses a major risk of attacks and violations of enterprise security policies.
A few ways to secure mobile apps with security features like Biometric Sensors and Encrypted Data Storage.
You need to remember to assess the risk factors and have multiple layers of security for data transition. You can improve your mobile app security by encoding credentials and using strong user authentication such as two-factor authentication or multi-factor authentication.
You also need to make sure you have control over the compliance challenges, which is a set of security standards that align with internal or external laws or regulations.
If you want to keep the valuable intellectual property of your company protected or your corporate data, then mobile app security for enterprises need to be every employee’s responsibility and concern. It needs to be implemented in a well-coordinated strategy led by the professionals.
Do you have any software projects that need security review? Feel free to reach out and we can work with you to protect your app and data.