The reality of mobile app security

The reality of mobile app security
June 27, 2016  |  BY

The next time you use your favorite mobile app to order food or check the score of the game, keep in mind that your personal data may not be safe.

Ever since the dawn of the world wide web, security has been a major issue. And as usage and ecommerce grew in scale, those security problems exploded exponentially. Today, a firmly entrenched Internet security industry, composed of companies and consultants, is here to help keep data safe from criminals.

Interesting, the average person mentally separates their mobile activity from “traditional” Internet activity, thinking the former doesn’t involve much risk. But because increased broadband speeds have made it easy to download mobile apps, and because data storage limits keep increasing, there’s more potential for security breaches.

Just like with your desktop or laptop, mobile apps can have flaws with security, storage, and the protection of personal information. The problem is that developers, in the race to create the next life-changing app, can sometimes be more focused on getting to market than implementing proper data security measures, which ends up being a great opportunity for data thieves. This isn’t conjecture, as Apple’s App Store and Google Play recently had to deal with serious security threats.

The bulk of data breaches still occur with computers, but mobile developers have a responsibility to make cutting edge security as important as cool app features. Whatever moral objections you may have about hackers, “stupid” is one adjective that can never be ascribed to them. If there’s a hole, be it a weak password system or weak encryption, they’ll find it and gladly infiltrate the company’s network and pilfer the personal information of all of the app’s users.

Online criminals are using some of their old tricks from the pre-mobile era. For example, they’re creating copycat applications that people think are a company’s official application. The person logs in and like that, their sensitive data gets hand-delivered to the hacker. Of course, companies have boilerplate messages that warn of the dangers of downloading apps from unofficial sources, but visually it can be hard to distinguish between the authentic and the fake.

Today’s mobile technology has redefined the term “convenience”. That’s something everyone likes. We can track our health while tracking flight information. We just want to know we’re secure while doing it.