Software Security: Creating a Secure Mobile App

Steps to Maintain Security During Mobile App Development

Mobile security has become a major issue today, with both developers and users alike. An app can boast of true success in the marketplace, only and only if it becomes popular with the masses. An app can become truly popular only if it can offer a good user experience, more importantly, a safe user experience. Establishing mobile software security, hence, should be the prime concern of every mobile app developer, through all the stages of app development and deployment of the app to the concerned mobile devices.

Listed below are steps you can take to maintain security, through all the stages of mobile app development:

Early Integration

Mobile App Security
Image © Ervins Strauhmanis/Flickr.

Most app security flaws can be prevented by seamlessly integrating security processes right from the earliest stages of app development. Planning out your initial app design strategy, keeping security in mind all the time, will far reduce the chances of security risks cropping up during the later stages of app development. Incorporating the right security measures earlier on, hence, saves you much time, money and effort, which you may have to invest later.

Pre-Design Stage

The next stage involves gathering and analyzing data for developing the app. This stage also includes understanding the documentation and other processes for creating the app, understanding the different OS’ for which the app is being developed and so on. Before going ahead to design the app, therefore, you need to understand the various complications and restraints you may face, as concerns the security and compliance of your app.

In case you are designing an app for a particular company, you additionally need to take into account several other aspects such as the company’s privacy policy, the industry policy (as and when applicable), regulatory requirements, confidentiality and so on.

App Design Stage

The next step, the app design stage, can give rise to multiple security issues as well. Of course, these issues can also be dealt with relatively easily, when they are caught early enough. The actual problem, though, arises during the implementation of the app design. Security issues arising during this phase are the ones that are the most difficult to spot and resolve. The best way to minimize the risk factor here would be to create a list of all the potential traps, well in advance, also planning your course of action to avoid each of them.

This is followed by performing a detailed security design review, which is usually handled by a security expert, authorized to carry out this particular check.

App Development Stage

It is vital to ensure maximum possible app security during this particular phase. Of course, you have readymade, automated tools, to help you fish out issues within the source code. The major issue cropping up at this time would be finding and fixing bugs and tracking other security vulnerabilities. While these tools are effective to tackle common security issues, they may sometimes not be able to detect more complicated issues.

This is where a peer review can come of use to you. You could ask a fellow developer to review your code and provide feedback on your app. Approaching a third party helps, as they may be able to find and fix some flaws which you left out during any of the above stages.

App Testing and Deployment

Next, you need to test your app thoroughly, to ensure that it is completely free of security and other issues. Neatly document all processes and build security test cases, prior to testing the app. A professional test team uses these test cases to create a systematic analysis of your app.

The last stage involves deployment of the app, wherein it is finally installed, configured and made available for users. During this phase, it is advisable for the production team to work in tandem with the security team in order to ensure complete app security.

Security Training

While it has never been overtly stated that app developers should have the necessary training in maintaining app security, it is only fair that developers achieve a basic level of knowledge in the field of mobile app security. Developers who are part of companies should receive mandatory security training, so that they can understand and follow the best practices for developing quality apps. In general, app developers should ideally have a grasp on the basic terminology, security processes and the knowledge of implementing appropriate strategies to effectively tackle issues relating to app security.