Top security measures for iOS and Android Application Development

It's not only the doors but also the apps need security

Till date, security issues were only concerned with homes, warehouses, factories, banks, etc. No one was bothering about digit al security until now. But, as our scholars have said that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, security breach issues all over the world made us understand the importance of digital security.

Taking the example of most recent days, we all are aware of the ransomware attack happened some months back all over the world including India as well. According to the statistics provided by various organizations, the data published shows the following findings.

  • A new organization will become the victim of ransomware every 14 seconds in 2019, and every 11 seconds by 2021. (Source: CyberSecurity Ventures)
  • 1.5 million new phishing sites are created every month. (Source: webroot.com)
  • Ransomware attacks have increased over 97 percent in the past two years. (Source: Phishme)
  • A total of 850.97 million ransomware infections were detected by the institute in 2018.
  • 34% of businesses hit with malware took a week or more to regain access to their data. (Source: Kaspersky)
  • Ransomware from phishing emails increased 109 percent in 2019 as compared to 2017. (Source: PhishMe)

(Source: phoenixnap.com)

This was just one example of security breach. There are many such having their presence in the world's digital structure. And that is why app security has raised its importance in this 21st century. Mobile is a handy tool for human beings and they are using tremendous amount of apps in their smart-phones. But the questions lies here are that do all those apps are secured or not? Let’s understand firstly the mobile app security.

Mobile app security

Mobile app security can be defined as a kind of protection that mobile apps are having against malwares. And it may be also notified the various activities performed by crackers and other cyber criminals. The term can also refer to various technologies and production practices that minimize the risk of various cyber attacks on mobile devices through the apps installed in it.

(Source: Google images)

A mobile device incorporates large number of components. And probably, all of them are vulnerable to security weaknesses. The parts are made, distributed and used by multiple players, each of whom plays a crucial role for the security of any mobile device. Each player should incorporate security measures into their building process. But, this task is not being carried out adequately by them. The list of common vulnerabilities for mobile devices may include architectural flaw, platform weakness, some issues related to isolation and permission problems and application weakness.

Now, the concern here is, what are the measures and practices that an app developer should keep in mind for sound digital security of any mobile app.

Best practices during app development

There are many measures need to be addressed while securing the app against various types of cyber attacks. Important of them are mentioned in the list below.

  • Don’t just copy and paste the security code. Rather, write a separate security code for every app. As every app has a different job to do, it deserves separate security code.
  • Encrypt the app data as much as possible. For instance, Whatsapp.
  • Beware while using third party libraries for developing the app code.3
  • Use an authorised API (Application program interface) for app development.
  • Authentication plays an important role in securing the app. So, a higher level of authentication will ensure higher security for the app.
  • Develop the temper detection techniques for the app which generates regular alert whenever there happens try to modify or change the code.
  • Privilege of receiving the app code should be kept minimum and should be kept limited to those who are intended to receive it. Hence, lesser privileges improve the app security.
  • Sound session management should be incorporated. And the app must have the facility of remote wipe off and log off to protect data of lost devices.
  • Using good cryptography encryption tools such as AES and SHA256 to ensure maximum security of the app.
  • Testing should be performed on a regular basis for continuous and long term digital protection of the app.

Generally, app developers neglect some points from the list above and hence they ultimately end up with having severe security threats to their app. For prevention of these kind of issues, let’s compare side by side the vulnerable app development and the secured app development.

There are two types of app developing happens: one is android app development and the other is iOS app developing. Android app development is done for the devices which run on android operating system. While iOS app development is done specially for the devices run on iOS operating system. Android is an operating system of Google INC and iOS is the operating system of tech giant Apple INC.

Android programming

Android programming is common learnt programming in various universities in the world. Here are explained common steps for android development. The steps recommended by Eclipse are as follows:

  1. Firstly, set up the java development kit (JDK)
  2. Configure the Android Software development Kit (SDK)
  3. Set up eclipse Integrated Development Environment (IDE)
  4. Setup Android Development Tools (ADT) Plug-in
  5. Lastly, create android virtual device
Best android app developers

The list of top 10 Trusted Android App Development Companies In the World is as follows. (Source: yourstory.com)

  1. Hyperlink Infosystem
  2. Consultica
  3. IT Chimes
  4. QBurst
  5. WillowTree, Inc.®
  6. Infinum
  7. Cleveroad
  8. Softeq
  9. Yalantis
  10. Fuzz
iOS programming

iOS programming is not as easy as android app programming. Apple INC has its own measures that must be followed and fulfilled to develop and place your app on the iOS app store. iOS programming contains following procedure for developing and deploying an iOS app.

  • iOS Software Development Kit (SDK)

    First step is to explore the tools, technologies, capabilities, and languages included in the iOS SDK that makes app development possible. iOS SDK essentials for example, Cocoa Touch frameworks that include the UIKit, GameKit, PushKit, Foundation Kit, and MapKit. This kind of frameworks allow you manipulate the iPhone or iPad camera. Also they help in adding voice interaction using SiriKit, explore music with MusicKit, expand viewing and listening via AirPlay 2, and even add iMessage Business Chat to your application. iOS 11 added the power of machine learning with Core ML and augmented reality (AR) experiences with ARKit.

  • Prepare your development environment
    1. Download Xcode
    2. Launch Xcode and create a New Project
    3. Get familiar with Xcode
    4. Build and run your app using the built-in iOS Simulator app that’s included in Xcode. The iOS Simulator is a great way to see what your app will look like and you can interact with it as if you were on a real device. You can simulate your app on a variety of hardware types and also on some iOS versions.
  • Beta Testing

    Once you have built and tested (using XCTest framework or iOS Unit test) your app, you can invite users to your apps and collect feedback using TestFlight prior to deploying to the App Store. This is a good time for testing Push Notifications, data storage using Core Data, and making network calls to 3rd party APIs. To get going, you simply upload a beta build of your app, and use iTunes Connect to add the name and email of testers. The testers may install the TestFlight app for iOS. So that they can interact with your app and provide valuable feedback.

  • Cloud Testing

    Testing your iOS app on real devices is critically important since the performance of the real device, different operating system versions, modifications made by manufacturer and carriers firmware may lead to unexpected issues with your app. Testing on real device gives you a more accurate understanding of user interface with your app.

    On the other hand, obtaining physical devices for testing is a logistical challenge. This is where cloud testing comes into play. You can perform a manual test or run automated tests to ensure the quality of your application.

  • Deployment

    Once you have built, tested, and beta tested your iOS app, you can deploy to the App Store. At this point, you must join the Apple Developer Program as well. Because, as a member, you’ll get access to their beta software, advanced application capabilities, extensive beta testing tools, and app analytics too.

iOS developer requirements

To develop iOS apps, developer must have a Mac computer running the latest version of Xcode. Xcode is Apple’s IDE for both Mac and iOS apps. Xcode is the graphical interface which will be used by developers to write iOS apps. Xcode includes the package of all essential tools like the iOS SDK, tools, compilers, and frameworks you need specifically to design, develop, write code, and debug an app for iOS. For native mobile app development on iOS, Apple INC suggests using the modern Swift programming language.

It is important to note that Xcode runs only on Mac Operating System X. It is only the supported way to develop iOS apps.

We have much discussed about app development process and the measure which should be considered in secure app developing process. Now, what if there exists a company that provides all these services and help us in developing as well as in securing our app against various cyber attacks? The answer is positive. There are many Security companies are available in the market that are ready to help us for developing and securing our app. They are providing not only this, but also after sales services as well. Top security companies may be noted as follows:

Security companies

According toSoftwaretestinghelp.com, here is the list of top cyber and app security companies.

  1. Sciencesoft (Revenue : $10-$16 million)
  2. Symantec (Revenue : $4-$5 billion)
  3. Check point software (Revenue : $1-$2 billion)
  4. Cisco (Revenue : $49-$50 billion)
  5. Palo alto (Revenue : $2-$3 billion)
  6. McAfee (Revenue : $2 billion)
  7. IBM (Revenue : $79 billion)
  8. CyberArk (Revenue : $261-$262 million)
  9. FireEye (Revenue : $779-$780 million)
  10. Imperva (Revenue : $321-$322 million)
Summary

We are witnessing the intense growth of mobile phone industry today. In this digital era, we use many apps related to social media, banking, e-commerce, etc. We are also sharing our personal and private information such as ID proofs, Bio-data, etc. on it. Protection of all these data must be the priority of any app developer. It is good that with this blooming digital era, we are having various developing security measures too. Though ‘Completely secure digital world’ is a myth according to tech scholars, we must try to get our apps secured till the topmost possible level. Any developer, weather of android or iOS, he/she should develop an app by considering the highest level of digital safety he/she could get the app achieve.

Hiren Kanani Chief Technical Officer

A resident wizard for iPhone, iPad, Objective-C, Swift, Unity 3D, AR, VR, AR Kit Development and Xcode App Development. Nothing gets him more obsessed than a tricky coding problem or the challenge of finding a more efficient way to deploy a technology solution.