How App Developers Can Reduce the Risk of Cyber Attacks

The evolution of technology has brought seemingly endless benefits to both businesses and consumers. But along with the progress comes a few setbacks, like the increase in the number of cybersecurity attacks for example. The end goal for attackers remains the same—monetary theft. And with around 249,662 new domains and 5,518,007 new hosts launching daily, their targets are continually growing.

App-Developers-Reduce-Cyber-Attacks

In addition, the proliferation of mobile technology has given cybercriminals a new platform to carry out their attacks. Secondary or affiliate stores in the Android market can be taken advantage of to compromise official apps or create fake apps.

This makes security a critical consideration for app developers. Organizations must also regularly monitor app stores (and the entire web) to find platforms hosting apps without permission from the developer as well as apps impersonating the brand. Here are a few issues that bespoke software developers must be aware of.

 

Common Risks for Mobile App Developers

 

  1. Data leakage

Breaches can happen for different reasons. An unintended data leak is when critical app data is stored in unsecure locations (or those that are easily accessible by other apps or users) on mobile. This is caused by issues like OS bugs or framework security negligence, which is not within the developer’s control.

However, insecure data storage leaks are something that developers and users can control. This refers to private data being stored without proper encryption or transferred through unsecured means. According to the Ponemon Institute, companies have around 28% chance of experiencing at least one incident of a breach in the next two years, so it’s a good idea to be prepared.

 

  1. Social engineering

Basic trickery is also dangerous on mobile, especially since this attack can easily be done through email. Outside of malware, phishing is the most common social engineering tactic, and mobile users are the most vulnerable because they tend use email more often.

The fact that the device sometimes only shows the sender’s names may be a factor. According to an IBM study, mobile users are three times more likely to respond to a phishing attack compared to when using desktop.

 

  1. Interference through unsecured Wi-Fi

The transmission of data through an unsecured Wi-Fi connection, especially public ones, is also a cause of concern. According to a survey by security firm Wandera, a quarter of corporate mobile devices have connected to open and potentially insecure Wi-Fi networks, with 4% of those encountering a malicious interception recently.

 

  1. Physical device breaches

A lost, unattended, or old device can easily be infiltrated, especially if it has no strong password or encryption. The advent of the Internet-of-Things poses an even greater threat, as a breach can affect not just one device, but a slew of smartphones, tablets, wearables, and devices connected to the same network.

According to research by cybersecurity firm Raytheon, 82% of IT professionals say that unsecured IoT devices can cause a “catastrophic” data breach. It doesn’t help that some IoT devices don't generally come with timely software updates.

 

  1. Weak server-side controls

Servers have always been an easy target for hackers, as they control communication between the app and its mobile users. App developers should undertake traditional server-side security considerations into account or use an automated scanner to identify common issues with the server.

 

  1. The absence of binary protection

Binary protection is needed to avoid attackers from reverse-engineering the app’s code to include malware or redistribute a copy of the app that contains a threat.

 

  1. Inadequate transport layer protection

Transport layer refers to the route that the data takes when transmitting between client and server. Hackers usually try to gain access to this to modify or steal the data, resulting in frauds, identity theft, and other issues.

 

  1. Poor authorization and authentication

Most mobile apps don’t call for users to be online throughout their session. Hence, some apps will require offline authentication to maintain uptime, but this can create a security loophole as offline mobile apps cannot distinguish if a user has low permissions, or is an admin or super admin. Such gaps may allow attackers to operate the app or the backend server.

 

  1. Damaged cryptography

Broken cryptography is due to lousy encryption or incorrect implementation, like storing keys in easily accessible locations or not hard-coding them within the binary. Attackers can exploit such vulnerabilities by decrypting sensitive data then manipulating or stealing it

 

  1. Client-side injection

This refers to the execution of malicious codes through the client’s side of the app or a binary attack. Injection is done by adding code that forces a context switch, which the framework interprets as executable. The code may then either access permissions to otherwise unauthorized users or execute privileged permissions.

Affected users need to identify the source of the input and validate the data. A code analysis tool can also be used to validate whether the application is handling data correctly.

 

Cybersecurity Best Practices

Fortunately, there are ways that organizations and app developers can avoid falling victims to fraudulent practices.

  • Make the code tough to break by securing it, while keeping it easy to update and patch.
  • Encrypt all data and make sure your authentication keys aren’t easily accessible.
  • Be extra cautious when using third-party libraries. Test them before use and maintain control over internal repositories during acquisition.
  • Use authorized APIs only, as unauthorized ones are loosely coded and may unintentionally grant permissions to unauthorized personnel.
  • Use high-level authentication, or make sure that the apps only accept strong, alphanumeric passwords that must be renewed after a few months. Using a multi-factor (a combination of static and one-time password) or biometric authentication (retina scan or fingerprint) for more sensitive apps is also recommended.
  • Use the newest cryptographic protocols 256-bit AES encryption with SHA-256 for hashing. In addition, never hard code keys as this would make it easy to steal them. Store keys in secure containers instead of in a local drive or device.
  • Test apps through penetration testing, threat modeling, and emulators. Fix issues and update or patch when required.

 

Conclusion

When new threats emerge, new solutions are needed. In this age of cyber-attacks, organizations shouldn’t wait for threats to happen before responding. Being proactive is the way, and spotting threats lurking around requires high-level visibility. There are steps and tools available to gain insight and help bring the attack into focus, even allowing supposed victims to go on the offense.

 

Contact us today to learn how we can secure your company's mobile apps from the get-go!


 Self-service: the future of customer support?

Customer support is on the rise, becoming the backbone of any business. While customers enjoy fast and responsive customer service, more and more people prefer self-service over contacting a customer support agent. Could self-service be the future of customer support?

In a survey by Interactive Intelligence Group, “short response times” ranked higher in importance for customers than “efficiency”, professionalism” or “knowledgeable agents”. As we can see, customers need answers to their questions and solution to their problems in no time. Self-service could be the answer to many questions that customers have.  

Why self-service?

 

Self-service allows your customers to solve their own issues in a fast and easy way, letting your outsourced customer support team to deal with less requests for support and reducing technical support services costs. According to Forrester, 72% of customers prefer self-service to resolve their technical support issues without requiring any interaction with a representative from your company.  We can say that self-service and automation of processes is on the rise and will play significant roles in the transformation of customer support.

Customers prefer self-service. 91% of them would use a self-service channel if it were available and met their needs. Self-service channels are most utilized by millenials. 73% would help themselves if the company would provide them with the right resources to solve the issue on their own. Being faster and more convenient on mobile devices, self-service is the perfect choice for accessing technical support whenever needed. It makes you more available for your customers and it can rescue your technical support agents from repetitive issues that can be resolved through a FAQs article. It cuts the unnecessary costs and it empowers your customers, providing them with the means to solve their own issues. On top of that, self-service resources can easily be referred to a friend that is experiencing the same issue and the company can receive a valuable feedback from its customers.

 

How to self-service your customer support?

 

A self-service portal that offers immediate and constant access to common customer service issues is the kind of portal your company should have. Its resources can take the following forms:

  • Knowledge bases: a centralised database of useful information
  • FAQs: a collection of recurring questions and queries that are related to your product and the issues that may occur
  • How-to video: a collection of videos in which step by step instructions can lead your customer to solving an issue

If you already have self-support resources, it’s time to upgrade them and give your customers the best information they can have to solutionate the issues encountered:

  • Identify your customer’s needs. - If customers are gonna get the most use of your service, the resources should be relevant to their needs. Identify recurring issues and separate them according to usage and skill.
  • Visibility can change the path of your service. - Display your self-service resources and encourage customers to try them. If the presence of your own resources is not noticeable, customers will miss out the opportunity.
  • Highlight the most popular FAQ. - Your customers should be able to find the answers to their issues in your self-service portal. Add the most popular FAQ to the self-service home page in order to be easier to find.
  • A picture’s worth a thousand words. - Take screenshots to show your customers where they need to update settings or where to click. You can also record the entire process and upload it on your self-service portal, your customers will thank you.
  • Up-to-date information is the best information. - If you decide to create a FAQ section, don’t put it in a corner and forget about it. You need to improve your knowledge base continuously.
  • Mobile devices, here we come! - If you haven’t optimized your self-service for mobile users, you should do it now. Consistency on all channels is the key to a happy customer. If your self-service portal is not mobile-friendly, then you’re customers are less likely to use it.

 

Today’s customers are more than ready for self-service. Empowering the customer to resolve the issues encountered is a victory for both the user and the customer support team. Dave Campbell, the VP of product marketing for the customer engagement and support products at LogMeIn is of opinion that “The human touch is still required for many queries, but by offloading some of the work to self-service tools, agents will be in a much better position to deliver the game-changing support that creates higher satisfaction and increased productivity.”

As we can see, self-service is the future of customer support, yet the need for finding a great customer support team is becoming bigger and bigger. Even if self-support services are on the rise, startups or companies still need a team that can provide efficient and exceptional outsourced customer support in order to form and maintain connections with their customers.