Android App Security: Top 6 Measures To Follow

Android App Security

Google Play has over 2.5 billion active users across 190 countries. It’s no surprise that hackers constantly look for vulnerabilities in android applications. Keeping track of the latest Android app security measures ensures safety from hackers or cyber criminals is vital.

As per Statista, the development of new malware in Android ranges around 480K per month over the Android platform.

With an uncontrolled rise in cyber attacks focusing on Android app security, best practices have become paramount. By following these six tips to secure your Android app, you can better protect yourself against cyberattacks and data breaches on mobile devices – saving you time, money, and stress in the long run.

1. Use Safe Web Views

Safe Web Views allow you to load web content securely so malicious code cannot execute. This is important because web content is often untrustworthy and may contain malware or viruses. By using Safe Web Views, you can protect your app and its users from these threats.

Developers can enforce safe web views by implementing it within the activity of the web content. The developer must include two pieces of information: first, the URL of the web page being loaded; second, how to handle any errors. Finally, developers should call this method as soon as possible after launching their activity and showing their UI.

Safe web views benefit the users by protecting them from hackers, website malfunctions, and unsafe coding. They also provide protection against phishing websites that steal passwords and personal information. Users will have a better experience because they are not interrupted by pop-ups on their phones.

2. Don’t Store Sensitive Data in Shared Preferences

Android App Security

Source: ResearchGate

Shared Preferences are a popular way to store data locally on an Android device. However, because they’re stored in plaintext, they’re susceptible to attack if they contain sensitive data like passwords or credit card numbers. If you must store sensitive data in Shared Preferences, consider encrypting it with a tool like SQLCipher.

Tools like SQLCipher works by wrapping the database file so that only your application can read and write the data. When your app starts up, the encrypted database is decrypted and loaded into memory for fast access. The encryption keys are saved as part of the app itself (on the filesystem) so that even if someone gains root access to your phone, he won’t be able to decrypt the data without first acquiring these keys.

One downside to this method is that SQLCipher doesn’t work with SQLiteOpenHelper databases. As such, programmers need to create a custom subclass of SQLiteOpenHelper and use it when accessing databases from within the helper class. 

3. Run Key Checks

Before you release your app, the developer’s team should check that it’s not accidentally leaking any secrets. This includes checking hard-coded passwords, API keys, and other sensitive information. They can do this by running a static code analysis tool like Checkmarx.

They should also check for common security vulnerabilities. Programmers can do this with a tool like OWASP’s Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP). ZAP helps you find vulnerabilities like SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS).

ZAP works by setting up an attack proxy on the device. It then sets up a simulated environment of the app you want to test. Once the proxy is set up, it collects all network traffic from the simulated environment and analyzes it in real-time. You can see what happens when attackers try different attacks on your app, such as SQL injection or XSS vulnerability testing.

4. Implement SSL Certificate Pinning 

SSL Certificate Pinning is a security measure that can be used to protect against man-in-the-middle attacks. By pinning certificates, you can be sure that the credentials you’re using are the ones you expect. To pin a certificate, developers will add a few lines of code to your app. 

First, you’ll need to get the certificate you want to pin. You can do this by downloading it from a website or by using a tool like OpenSSL. Developers can integrate it into your app’s resources or by adding it as an asset.

SSL certificates are cryptographic keys for proving identity on the internet. Whenever you request HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), you should receive an encrypted response from the server with a matching certificate. That means that if you look at your HTTP traffic and see no SSL handshake, there’s probably someone else in between who is intercepting and monitoring your data.

It is someone in law enforcement trying to track down criminals or some other type of malicious hacker. The attacker would present themselves as the target server and potentially use these communications to steal information such as passwords, credit card numbers, etc.

5. Protect Data with Encryption

Encrypting all data stored on the device secures your app. This includes user credentials, session information, and any other sensitive data. Android devices support full-disk encryption, which you should enable to protect all data stored on the device. In addition, you should encrypt any sensitive data stored in files or shared preferences.

Popular data encryption methods include AES, 3DES, Blowfish, and AES-XTS. We recommend you use at least 128 bits of key length for encryption (though it’s likely that anything above 128 bits will be sufficient). If you choose between using a fast but less secure algorithm or a slower but more secure one, leverage the latter as security risks may outweigh performance concerns if confidentiality isn’t guaranteed.

Note: If you are storing keys on the device, it’s recommended that the hire Android app developers in India encrypt the keys with another layer of security using AES.

6. Remove Unnecessary Permissions

The developer’s team should avoid integrating permissions that are not essential for the app’s functionality. For example, WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE is a permission that allows the app to write data onto the device’s external storage. A developer may request this permission if they want to save pictures or videos on an SD card. Developers must be careful when adding unnecessary permissions, making users more suspicious of an app and less likely to download it.

Permissions unrelated to the app’s core or additional functions add code bulk. This code can be exploited by malware during runtime and can result in several issues for an app, such as more network requests and slower startup times. But that’s not all!

Unnecessary permissions are one of the top reasons why users stop using apps. According to a study by Canalys, 41% of users said they’ve blocked using an app due to many unnecessary permissions requested at installation. The same study also stated that 19% of users stopped because they weren’t sure how many permissions they were already granted by installing an app earlier. So, ensure you don’t ask for additional permissions beyond what you need!

Read Also: Top Tips for Android App Development Success

Wrapping Up

With the rising cybersecurity concerns, security best practices have become an effective method for mitigating threats. Enabling encryption on sensitive data like passwords or location information is critical for any application. If your application includes sensitive data, it is essential to encrypt it using AES 128-bit encryption before storing/transmitting it over wireless networks.

Overall, it’s essential to have neat code free of bugs and errors. Employing Android app security best practices may be overwhelming but pays off in the long run. You can leverage Android app development company India to ensure a secured app that woos the end-users effectively.

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