How many apps have you developed?
And how many apps are at play in the average user’s life between their phone, tablet, and laptop?
We build apps all the time－it’s the age of the app!－and it’s hard to remember when software came only from Microsoft and a select few others.
While it’s broadly true that security is a standard part of the app building process, current analysis suggests a still alarming number of weaknesses that populate the world’s apps.
Very often, bottom-end apps display fundamental flaws that were long ago identified and capably addressed by most app builders. At the top end, modern apps are built very differently in response to the very latest security threats.
Application security involves using tools designed to secure software, and there’s never been a more relevant time for it to rise to forefront in every app builder’s consciousness.
Anyone working with an outsourced technology partner can glean an opinion on the current state of online security - and the news is often dire.
Although not unexpected, the cybercriminal fraternity’s abilities have remained fixed in a pas de deux with evolving digital life. IT support knows it, as does every CEO whose company has suffered from criminal activity online.
So, what’s the benchmark approach for app builders in 2021?
Potent new threats mean app security is paramount
Checking your app for security flaws is crucial, as the criminal evolution mentioned above isn’t slowing down. Far from it, it appears at various points that the crooks have the upper hand at times.
In a nutshell, app security centers work on finding and fixing security issues, and enhancing your app’s security wherever possible. A full suite of build methodologies needs to be in play to call an app secure, and most of the quest for security happens in the developmental stage.
That said, there is a legitimate component to app security that applies tools to apps after they’re deployed, in a monitored search for missed flaws in the build.
The reason behind the current increased focus on app security is simple hackers are increasingly targeting apps as a route to successful attacks.
Many companies specifically take a timeline approach to their app builds.
Quite remarkably, the easiest doors hackers use to infiltrate come from within the app building fraternity themselves.
To be fair, commercial efforts to implement decent app security are often frustrated by using open-source snippets in enterprise apps, but because of a sometimes-formulaic approach to app building, companies push apps out into the public domain without allowing for a more organic route to development.
Of course, you can’t take forever to build an app, but the wanton disregard shown by some for app security is tarnishing the app user’s reality as a whole.
Commercial interests often thwart app security
You might think app security is front and center when building an app, but that omits to factor in the very real and potent pressure on companies to beat their competition in the marketplace.
When potential security issues are considered irrelevant and time is money, app security compromise is easy to understand. It gets more complex when responsibility for security is divided between silos in larger corporations. This makes the onus for security hazier in allocation, as everyone can pass the buck around a little.
In fact, the more you investigate the issue of app security, the more remarkable it is in an age of heightened online security awareness that issues like data and financial loss, reputational damage, and even classic espionage seem not to intimidate some commercial app building entities.
Few other products would have such a warm reception with such conflicting - and often unsatisfactory issues - inbuilt into their architecture.
The good news is?
Benchmark security standards won’t necessarily slow your app build down.
If anything, successfully securing your company app can save a lot of heartache and do-overs, while also being great PR.
Well, consider the fact that around 43 percent of companies experienced compromised mobile security in 2019. They effectively abandoned it, a fact that makes no sense whatsoever.
Add to that there are some 5.2 billion mobile phones active on the globe, and you start to get a sense of the criminal potential, and the need for top-end security in app development.
When most users’ time is spent on apps - many of which contain sensitive or otherwise valuable data – it’s obvious why the criminal fraternity keeps knocking on app doors to fish for a way in.
Unfortunately, apps that come to market unprepared have a statistical history of being attacked.
Remember the Pokemon Go cheat?
It exploited the root access of Android devices, with embarrassing results.
Don’t think iOS apps are immune, either, because mobile attacks hit everyone.
Continuous deployment and integration techniques
New working methods called continuous deployment and integration techniques are filling in for the former app building methodology. Because apps have exploded over the last few years, the traditional route of IT taking months to refine an app are gone.
The new approach refines the launched app daily, and sometimes even hourly. It’s an anticipation of flaws and, while it might be proactive, it seems a poor substitute for a solid security build.
Are these methods effective?
Yes, although there really is no substitute for getting it right before you let it out the door.
The best approach to app development today is a layered approach.
Code hardening, real-time threat surveillance, and runtime application self-protection (RASP) form the most effective defense of a fledgling app, and there are literally hundreds of available tools capable of securing all aspects of your app.
Some 83 percent of more than 80,000 apps tested by Veracode had a security flaw, with many having far more than one. Some 20 percent had at least a single high severity flaw, and again, several had many more.The message to app builders is clear－don’t be one of them!