Secure mobile app development is a must-have for any application publisher. It is what allows consumers to know that your company can be trusted. Because of this, before you start developing your app, you need to have a clear understanding of what parts of it are likely to be the most vulnerable.

Android app security tips

You must think about how to build your app so as to avoid any privacy or data breaches. This will not only build customer loyalty, but it will also save you money in the long run, as you won’t have to allocate as much for app rebuilding efforts. Remember, mobile app security standards don’t exist, which is why you need to do your own policing of your app before you make it available to the public.

Hence, based on our experience in secure mobile application development, we’ve formulated a few actionable tips on how to build a secure app to protect user data from any mobile device.

Tips to Secure Your Android App


1. Risk Evaluation


Thoughtful evaluation is the first step toward helping you decide whether to accept residual risks or take an active role in minimizing them. The three principle questions you should ask yourself are: What are the possible risks for your application? What will be the losses? What are your mobile security vulnerabilities? Having defined that, you can figure out your security strategy.

2. Write a Secure Code


Mobile phone security tips often begin with a discussion of hackers and their bad intentions. Bugs and code vulnerabilities are the starting point most attackers use to break into an application. They will try to reverse-engineer your code and tamper with it, and all they need is a public copy of your app in order to do so. Research shows that malicious code affects over 11.6 million mobile devices at any given time.

Keep code security in mind from day one and harden your code, making it as difficult as possible to breakthrough. Minify your code so it cannot be reverse-engineered. Test it repeatedly before taking it to live, and fix any bugs as they are exposed.

3. Encrypt All Data and Store It Safely

Any Android app security checklist should include data encryption. Every single unit of data that is exchanged over your app must be encrypted. This means that even if data is stolen, there’s nothing criminals can read and misuse. Be sure to:
  • Apply for signature-based permissions
  • Disallow access to your app's content providers
  • Share data securely across apps. That means enforcing read-only or write-only permissions as needed and providing clients one-time access to data.
Secure data storage should also be on your mind. You must always secure private data using internal storage and use external storage sparingly. Any time that you use external storage of your company’s data or that which belongs to customers, you open yourself up to potential vulnerabilities.

4. Be Cautious with Libraries


When using third-party libraries, be extremely careful. Test the code thoroughly before using it in your app. As useful as they are, some libraries can lead to app insecurity. Android secure data storage is needed, but libraries are not always the most efficient way to get it done.

For instance, the GNU C Library had a security flaw that could have allowed attackers to remotely execute malicious code and crash a system of their choosing. This vulnerability went undiscovered for more than seven years. Developers should use controlled internal repositories and exercise policy controls during acquisition to protect their apps from library vulnerabilities.

5. Use Authorized APIs Only


Android security issues often involve APIs that aren’t authorized and are loosely coded can unintentionally grant hacker privileges that can be gravely misused. Use APIs that are authorized centrally for maximum security. Android APK security is also something on which you should focus.

6. Use High-Level Authentication


How to provide security in Android app advice usually includes an emphasis on high-level authorization as well. Always ask for credentials before showing sensitive information.

You can design your apps to only accept strong alphanumeric passwords that must be renewed every three or six months. Multi-factor authentication is gaining prominence, which involves a combination of static passwords and dynamic OTP.

7. Apply Network Security Measures


How to secure the Android app code has a lot to do with what safeguards you put in place. You should get in the habit of applying network security measures with SSL traffic. Advanced security configurations for your network make it far less likely that a hacker will be able to compromise your app.

8. Deploy Tamper-Detection Technologies


How to secure Android phone from virus concerns are all about keeping hackers out. Mobile app security best practices have a lot to do with installing tamper barriers. There are safeguards that you can put in place that will set off alerts when someone tries to tamper with your existing code or inject anything malicious into it. Active tamper-detection can be deployed to make sure that the code will not function at all if modified.

9. Minimize Permissions Asked by Your App


Android security app source code can be protected when you minimize permissions. Code should run with only the permissions it absolutely needs, and no more than that. Your app should never request any more privileges than the minimum required for it to function.

10. Deploy Proper Session Handling


Android secure properties include moderating sessions. User sessions on mobile typically last much longer than on desktops. This makes session handling harder for the server.

Use tokens instead of device identifiers for sessions. Tokens can be revoked at any time, making them more secure in case of lost or stolen devices. Enable remote wiping of data from a lost or stolen device, and also enable remote log-off. OAuth2, JSON Web Tokens, and OpenID Connect are all great methods for securing and simplifying user logins.

11. Use the Best Cryptography Tools and Techniques


It is crucial if your encryption efforts are going to pay off. Don’t hard-code your keys, as that makes it easy for attackers to steal them. Instead, store keys in secure containers, and never store them locally on the device.

Some widely-accepted cryptographic protocols like MD5 and SHA1 have proven insufficient by modern security standards. Stick to the latest, most trusted APIs, such as 256-bit AES encryption with SHA-256 for hashing.

12. Test Repeatedly


And the last tip on how to secure the Android app from hackers will be testing. Securing your app is a never-ending process. New threats emerge and new solutions are needed. Invest in penetration testing, threat modeling, and emulators to continuously test your apps for vulnerabilities. Fix them with each update and issue patches when they are required.

This Android app security checklist can be your guide if you let it. If you follow the directions that we have laid out, then you should be able to bring software products to market about which you can feel entirely confident.

Slava Vaniukov

About the Author

Slava Vaniukov, Co-Founder and CEO at Softermii, has over 9-years of experience in the web and mobile development industry. After getting extensive experience in the MVP development and UX/UI design field, Slava joined forces with like-minded professionals to start his own company.