In recent years, Application Development has become one of the key strategies to achieve digitalization goals for businesses of all sizes. Enterprise apps help businesses streamline internal operations to boost productivity and enhance customer service.
But relying on mobile apps comes at a price. Enterprise software has become one of the weakest links prone to malicious attacks.
The growing adoption of mobile apps has increased vulnerability risk and exposure. According to a 2022 report by Forrester, up to 35 percent of external attacks on businesses exploit vulnerabilities in software and about 32 percent exploit vulnerabilities in web applications.
The numerous benefits of enterprise apps mean their usage is not about to slow down in the coming years. Instead, organizations will continue to demand more software apps with even greater complexity.
In keeping up with these demands, developers need to work more to safeguard these apps. This post details all you need to know about app development security, including common security issues and the steps or best practices to follow to keep apps secure.
Definition of application development security and its need for businesses
Application development security refers to measures put in place to prevent a data breach or code hijacks in software applications. This often involves a combination of software and hardware security techniques, best practices, and standard procedures intended to protect enterprise apps from all forms of external and internal security threats.
Application security includes all security measures and considerations followed during app development and the additional measures meant to secure the app even after deployment.
Software vulnerabilities are more common than you might want to believe. According to a 2019 Application Security Statistics Report, up to 50 percent of apps used by organizations that have no DevSecOps in place are vulnerable to attacks.
In one study, Veracode scanned 85,000 apps used across some 2,300 companies worldwide. They discovered that 83 percent of these apps have at least one security flaw. Although not all of these vulnerabilities are serious, they may open the door to other critical vulnerabilities that put your business operations at risk.
At the very least, a breach in a poorly secured application can lead to downtime or service disruptions. At the same time, a more severe security vulnerability can be exploited to steal sensitive user or business data.
Common security issues in applications
Every day, new security threats and issues arise, making it difficult to build fully-secure applications. However, there are a few common issues you should at least mitigate against as part of your standard application development security. They’re highlighted below.
1. Access control
If anyone can access your application due to poor access control, it poses a significant threat to your business. That's because malicious actors often try to brute-force their way into apps by exploiting security issues with access authentication and authorization. This is why access control has to be a top priority in enterprise app development to prevent attackers from getting freeway access to your database or server. Access control is necessary for both offline and online applications.
2. Insecure storage
Enterprise apps often have to handle and store critical and sensitive business (and user) data. So it is important to prioritize application security to secure all of this data. Insecure data increases the risk of cyberattack since attackers can easily access the database to steal or manipulate data. In addition to securing your database, you also need to invest in data encryption, especially when transmitting or sending data is necessary. This ensures that attackers cannot read the data even if they're intercepted or hijacked.
3. Injecting attack
Malicious actors may sometimes enter malicious commands or inject harmful codes that can impact an app or its users negatively. The absence of an efficient system to validate data that is being entered from external sources makes your app an easy target for attackers. An injection attack may result in data loss or corruption, denial of access, or even a total takeover of your application.
4. Insider attack
An insider attack is a type of software vulnerability that involves current or former employees of the organization. It occurs when these individuals misuse their legitimate access, intentionally (malicious insider) or inadvertently (careless insider), exposing the organization to security threats. Although insider attacks are often difficult to prevent, organizations can limit the impact of such attacks by limiting assess for individual users based on roles, protecting critical assets, and putting measures in place to ensure visibility.
How to secure app development
In enterprise app development, making your app more secure has to be a top priority. Following standard procedures and best practices can help preserve your software's integrity. Some of these best practices to secure app development include:
Application security begins from the point of designing and writing your code. Secure coding refers to the practice of designing and writing code in a way that adheres to standard security practices. Following these security standards protects your code from unexpected, unknown, and known vulnerabilities that hackers may try to exploit.
Encrypting your software source code and all data stored or transmitted through it is one of the ways to secure your application data. While encryption does not prevent your app data from getting hijacked, it makes it unusable for the attackers that stole it. Use the latest encryption protocols, such as AES and SHA256, to protect your apps better. Encryption keys should also be stored away from the app and never on it.
Test your application
Many developers ignore security testing in a rush to deploy apps or roll out new features quickly. Pen-testing before deploying your app helps determine any vulnerability or security flaw. Testing can also help identify new vulnerabilities you were not aware of while also verifying if the measures you put in place to detect known vulnerabilities were efficient.
Keep software up-to-date
After deploying an app, patches and security updates should be released as frequently as possible. You should update software code based on internal quality tests as well as feedback from users. Performing patches, releasing updates, and encouraging users to download these updates will prevent hackers from exploiting any loopholes in the previous versions of your app.
The risk of malicious activities is ever-present and with the present and projected increase in enterprise app adoption, it is only bound to increase. Therefore, developers need to prioritize app security during development and after their apps have been deployed. Following the best practices stipulated above will ensure the integrity of enterprise apps and prevent the potential loss and damage that may result from the exploitation of security vulnerabilities.