How about going through some interesting facts before shedding light on the importance of mobile app security? As per the comScore report, the number of mobile-only Internet users has already surpassed the number of desktop-only users way back in 2015, and now the ever-increasing number of smartphone users is expected to generate a whopping $ 77B mobile app revenue in 2017 from over 268 billion app downloads. In other words, mobile apps will become ubiquitous as time advances, and you need to consider the security of mobile apps as a crucial part of enterprise mobility strategy.
As there is no denial to the fact that customized mobile applications are going to become more prevalent and pervasive with time, we also cannot rule out the increasing possibilities of cyber attacks.
Here are some of the most noteworthy reasons that make mobile apps highly vulnerable to the attacks:
- Loaded with sensitive information
The potential threat to privacy protection is very high for the applications that collect unnecessary data and sensitive information of the customers/clients. We have a big example of Ashley Madison breach occurred in 2015. The user’s sensitive personal information including real names, addresses, and credit card transactions was compromised just because of Ashley’s policy of not deleting such information.
- Paradigm shift of online tasks
These days, online chores of both employees and customers witness a paradigm shift from desktop to mobile apps. This is a major reason for increasing risk on the mobile apps. As more and more people use mobile applications to conduct online transactions and other operations, the companies providing such facilities need to ensure the safety of such processes.
- Native nature
Let’s face it. Most of the mobile apps are native in nature, which means that they are downloaded and run on the mobile devices. Now, if any safety-related issue is found in the app, the company must change the application code to keep such issue at bay. But then, if the users don’t update their app, it remains vulnerable. On the other hand, many users find frequent updates cumbersome and tend to either ignore the notification or delete the application.
- Increasing size and updates
Mobile applications have become an attractive target for the recent years due to their increasing utility and advanced system capabilities. Increasing size of the mobile app also poses a threat as malicious updates may replace the regular updates. Excessive device access requirements with growing app size also expose the end-user to vulnerabilities like data exfiltration.
- BYOD movement
Companies are slowly but strongly persuaded of the importance of BYOD integration at the workplace. But then, the growing number of devices associated with BYOD concept makes customized mobile apps a more attractive target. IT network security teams find controlling of a mobile device more challenging than the same for desktops or laptops. Let’s take an example of Stagefright bug that enables cyber attackers to perform arbitrary operations through remote code execution and privilege escalation. The frightening thing is: No user actions are necessary for introducing this bug, and therefore, the end user may never know about the breach.
- High degree of access and control
Today’s mobile apps require high degree of access and control of the system of the user’s handheld devices. Mobile apps demand access to contacts, calendars, photos, location, and many other useful things prior to be downloaded. Most of the information the mobile apps seek are irrelevant and unnecessary for their performance, but can cause a great threat as access to such apps can give access to the user’s mobile devices. The tech giant Google has tried to address this issue through offering control of the app permissions to the end users. But, it is in a preliminary phase and valid for Android 6.0 and above versions.
As an app owner, your responsibility for assuring the safety of user data is increased manifold when your app asks for more access and control.
The Final Word
Well, these reasons are just the tip of the iceberg. We can enrich the list with other reasons also. Basically, most of the custom mobile applications contain the sheer amount of personal data with relatively weak security features that make them a ‘soft target’ for cyber-attackers, and therefore, as an entrepreneur, you need to tighten up the app security before it’s getting too late!