Security Requirements for Protecting Data in Mobile Apps
Nikfar Khaleeli | Mar 2, 2023
Device-independent mobile app security protects mobile apps and their data regardless of the mobile device or mobile OS platform on which the mobile apps are running, while providing companies with significant benefits over MDM and MAM solutions. When evaluating such mobile app security solutions, here are the minimum requirements that companies must insist on if they are to protect the data in these mobile apps.
Encryption of Locally Stored Data
The mobile app security solution must ensure that sensitive mobile app data is stored in a secure location on the device and encrypted to prevent unauthorized access. Encryption ensures that even in the event an attacker breaches the mobile app’s security, the data will be unreadable without the proper encryption key. It's important to use an industry-standard encryption algorithm to encrypt sensitive data.
For example, AES-256 (Advanced Encryption Standard) is a symmetric encryption algorithm that uses a 256-bit key to encrypt and decrypt data. It is considered to be one of the most secure encryption methods available and is frequently used to protect sensitive information.
The AES-256 encryption algorithm is also known for its efficiency, which makes it well-suited for use on mobile devices and other resource-constrained environments. AES-256 relies on a "block cipher" process to encrypt data in fixed-size blocks (128-bit blocks) and a 256-bit key size to determine the number of rounds that the algorithm goes through to encrypt the data. The more rounds, the more secure the encryption.
Mobile app authentication is the process of verifying the identity of a user who is attempting to access a mobile app or its features. The mobile app security solution must provide authentication services so that once the solution has been integrated into a mobile app, app users will be required to authenticate themselves before accessing sensitive data or performing critical actions within the mobile app. Possible authentication techniques include password-based authentication, biometric authentication, certificate-based authentication, and single sign-on (SSO).
If the mobile app needs to communicate with a server, the mobile app security solution should ensure that secure communication protocols, such as HTTPS, are used to protect data in transit. Doing so ensures that communication between the mobile app and a server is secure and cannot be intercepted or modified by an attacker.
A clientless VPN (i.e., an in-app VPN) provides an ideal way to ensure secure communications. With a clientless VPN, the VPN stack is integrated directly into a mobile app, rather than being a standalone app or service. With an in-app VPN, users can secure their internet traffic and protect their online privacy while using a specific mobile application.
The VPN encrypts the data transmitted between the mobile app and a backend server, making it difficult for attackers to intercept or steal sensitive information. Making the VPN clientless means that the mobile app doesn’t rely on another mobile app on the device to facilitate secure communications. MDM solutions rely on a separate VPN client, which can be enforced with an MDM profile.
There are many benefits of clientless VPNs. Protection against MitM (Man-in-the-Middle) attacks as traffic is securely authenticated and encrypted, which makes it difficult for attackers to intercept or modify it. Protecting app users' privacy as third parties are prevented from monitoring their internet activity. Improved security on public Wi-Fi networks, which are often unsecured, as the in-app VPNs provide an additional layer of security by encrypting network traffic.
Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
Data Loss Prevention (DLP) policies are used to protect sensitive information from being leaked or lost, and are especially important for mobile apps that handle sensitive information. While encryption of stored data and secure communications help to prevent data loss, there must be the ability to set other types of DLP policies. For example, one should be able to set a policy that allows remote wiping of data in a mobile app or rendering the data in a mobile app inaccessible in case the device is lost or stolen. Preventing cut-paste and copy-paste of data from a secured mobile app into a non-secured app is another way to prevent data leakage. Having privacy screens in the task switcher that mask app data as a user switches between apps is yet another DLP policy.
Blue Cedar Mobile App Security
Blue Cedar Mobile App Security provides device independent data protection and secure connectivity to address all of these requirements. Blue Cedar Mobile App Security also provides Mobile RASP (Runtime Application Self-Protection) to protect the runtime of mobile apps. Companies use Blue Cedar Mobile App Security to create self defending mobile apps for iOS and Android. Blue Cedar Mobile App Security is made up of Blue Cedar Enforce and Blue Cedar Connect and is delivered by the Blue Cedar Platform, a CI/CD friendly SaaS solution.
The Blue Cedar Platform orchestrates the last mile of mobile app release activities that are needed to deploy mobile apps to end users. No-code enhancement of mobile apps with Blue Cedar mobile app security or third-party app security controls, app signing and app distribution are examples of the release activities that happen in the last mile of mobile app deployments.
Blue Cedar technologies also works with all mobile app development frameworks and programming languages. All of this makes it very easy for companies to use Blue Cedar to deploy secured apps.
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