I’ve been at the technical front lines of mobile app development for over a decade, developing various products from healthcare to renewable energy and fintech across the US and Europe. So, it’s been quite a bumpy ride.

But, no matter the industry I’ve been building mobile apps for, whether healthcare, logistics, hospitality, or entertainment, there is only one thing at the top. It’s mobile app security.

It’s like a secret ingredient to your cocktail. It can either help you win over users or break your mobile app.

In 2024, where data is the new gold, mobile app security is one of the vital elements for the success of your product.

Still, developing a secure mobile application is a tedious process that requires a deep understanding of all security vulnerabilities and ongoing experience with best practices.

Today, I’m going to show you the best practices we use at Techstack to secure our partners' mobile applications and protect users’ personal data. We’ll discuss data encryption, secure coding practices, and other security measures you can take to make your app safe and sound. So, let’s get the ball rolling.

Understanding Mobile App Security Challenges

Mobile apps face a variety of security threats. Understanding these challenges is crucial to protect your app and its users effectively. Here are some of the most common threats:

In the picture you can see top security challenges that can make or break your mobile app

Data breaches

Data breaches are like digital break-ins. Hackers find a way into your app's database and steal sensitive information. This could be anything from usernames and passwords to credit card details or personal messages. It's not just big companies that are at risk—any app that stores user data can be a target.


Malware is like a virus for your app. It's software designed to cause harm, and it can sneak into your app in various ways. Some malware might try to steal data, while others could slow down the app or even take control of the user's device. It's especially dangerous because it can spread from one user to another.

Insecure data storage

This is like leaving your valuables in an unlocked drawer. If an app doesn't properly protect the data it stores on a device, attackers who gain access to the device (either physically or through malware) can easily read this data. This could include cached passwords, personal information, or even encryption keys.

Weak authentication

Think of this as having a really easy-to-guess password on your front door. If an app allows simple passwords or doesn't use multi-factor authentication, it's much easier for attackers to guess or brute-force their way into user accounts. Once they're in, they can access all of that user's data and potentially use the account for malicious purposes.

Man-in-the-middle attacks

Imagine someone intercepting your mail, reading it, and then sending it on to you—that's essentially what a man-in-the-middle attack does. If an app doesn't use proper encryption for its network communications, attackers can intercept data as it's sent between the app and its servers. This could expose sensitive information or allow the attacker to manipulate the data.

Reverse engineering

This is like taking apart a lock to figure out how it works. Skilled attackers can decompile your app's code and analyze it to find vulnerabilities. They might discover hardcoded passwords, find ways to bypass security checks, or understand how to craft more effective attacks against your app.

Unsecured APIs

APIs are like the pipes that connect your app to your servers and other services. If these aren't properly secured, attackers can potentially access or manipulate data, or even gain unauthorized access to your backend systems. This could lead to data breaches, service disruptions, or other security issues.

Additional threats to consider:

  • Session hijacking: This is when an attacker steals or predicts a valid session token to gain unauthorized access to the app. It's like stealing someone's ID badge to get into a secure building.
  • Insufficient cryptography: Using weak or outdated encryption methods is like using a simple lock that's easy to pick. It might keep casual snoopers out, but won't stand up to determined attackers.
  • Improper platform usage: Each mobile platform (iOS, Android) has its own security features and best practices. Not using these correctly can leave your app vulnerable.
  • Code injection: This is when an attacker finds a way to insert their own code into your app, often through non-validated user inputs. It's like sneaking a Trojan horse into your app.

These threats are constantly evolving, making it essential for developers to stay vigilant and update their security measures regularly. By understanding these challenges, you can take proactive steps to protect your app and its users from potential attacks.

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What Will Happen If You Ignore the Threat Landscape?

Ignoring the threat landscape can have serious consequences for your mobile app and your business. First off, you're putting your users' data at risk. This could mean personal info, financial details, or even sensitive business data getting into the wrong hands. That's a surefire way to lose user trust, and once that's gone, it's tough to get back.

  • Data theft

Cybercriminals can steal sensitive user data, leading to identity theft and financial loss.

  • Reputation damage

Security breaches can tarnish a company's reputation, resulting in lost user trust and decreased app downloads.

  • Legal consequences

Failure to comply with data protection regulations can lead to legal penalties and fines.

  • Financial loss

Addressing security breaches and compensating affected users can be costly.

  • Loss of user trust

Users are likely to abandon an app that has experienced a security breach, leading to a decline in user base.

  • Operational disruption

Security incidents can disrupt app functionality, leading to downtime and loss of revenue.

  • Competitive disadvantage

Apps with poor security are less competitive in the market as users prioritize secure alternatives.

As you can see, ignoring security threats is a gamble that's not worth taking. It's always better to be proactive about security than to deal with the fallout of a breach.

Key Best Practices for Mobile App Security We Undertake at Techstack

At our software development company, we take mobile app security seriously. We've implemented a comprehensive set of best practices to ensure the highest level of security for all the mobile apps we develop. Here's how we approach each key area:

In the picture you can see best practices for mobile app security

Secure coding: Our developers are trained in writing clean, well-structured code. We have strict coding standards and perform regular code reviews to catch and fix vulnerabilities early in the development process.

  • Data encryption: We never compromise on data protection. Our apps use state-of-the-art encryption methods to safeguard all sensitive information, both at rest and in transit.
  • Secure communication: HTTPS is our standard. We implement it for all network communications, ensuring that data exchanged between our apps and servers is always encrypted and secure.
  • Strong authentication: We build robust authentication systems into every app. This includes enforcing strong password policies and implementing multi-factor authentication options to give users an extra layer of security.
  • Regular updates: Our team stays on top of the latest security threats. We have a dedicated process for quickly developing and releasing patches to address any new vulnerabilities that may arise.
  • Minimal permissions: We believe in the principle of least privilege. Our apps only request access to device features that are absolutely necessary for their core functionality, respecting user privacy and reducing potential attack surfaces.
  • Secure data storage: When it comes to sensitive data, we prefer to keep it off the device whenever possible. When local storage is necessary, we use secure storage methods and encrypt the data.
  • Input validation: Our apps thoroughly validate all user inputs. We've implemented robust checks to prevent injection attacks and other input-related vulnerabilities.
  • Third-party library vetting: We have a strict vetting process for all third-party libraries. Our security team carefully examines each library for potential security issues before we integrate it into our apps.
  • Obfuscation: To protect our intellectual property and make reverse engineering more difficult, we use advanced code obfuscation techniques on all our apps.
  • Secure backend: Our security measures don't stop at the app. We ensure that our server-side infrastructure is equally well-protected, using best practices in server security and regular penetration testing.

By rigorously applying these practices to every app we develop, we ensure a high level of security for our partners and their users. We view security as an ongoing commitment, not a one-time checkbox.

Our team continuously educates themselves on emerging threats and evolving best practices, allowing us to stay ahead of potential security risks.

We also work closely with our partners to help them understand the importance of these security measures while delivering mobile application development services.

Our proactive approach to security gives our clients peace of mind, knowing that their apps are built with the highest security standards in mind. Let’s take the most wide-spread security measures and break them into pieces.

Data encryption and protection

Data encryption is like a secret code for your app's information. It scrambles the data so that even if someone gets their hands on it, they can't understand it without the right key. Here's a quick look at some common encryption methods:

In the picture you can see key encryption methods used for mobile app security

When choosing an encryption method, we think about what we're protecting and how it's being used. For example, AES is great for protecting data stored on a device, while SSL/TLS is crucial for securing data as it travels over the internet.

Robust authentication and authorization

Strong user authentication methods are essential for securing mobile apps. Here are effective techniques we use:

  • Password Authentication: Require strong, unique passwords.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Use additional verification methods like SMS codes or email links.
  • Biometric Authentication: Implement fingerprint or facial recognition for added security.
  • OAuth: Use OAuth protocols for secure third-party authentication.
  • Session Management: Ensure secure session handling to prevent unauthorized access.

By incorporating these techniques, we can enhance user authentication and prevent unauthorized access.

Biometric and multi-factor authentication

Biometric and multi-factor authentication (MFA) are like adding extra locks to your app's front door. Here's how we implement them:

Biometric authentication:

  • Use the device's built-in biometric capabilities (fingerprint, face recognition)
  • Implement it as an option, not a requirement (some users might not have compatible devices)
  • Store biometric data securely, preferably not on your servers

Multi-factor authentication:

  • Combine something the user knows (password) with something they have (phone) or are (biometrics)
  • Use push notifications or authenticator apps instead of SMS for the second factor
  • Allow users to set up backup methods in case they lose access to their primary second factor

Remember, while these methods add security, they should be implemented carefully to avoid frustrating users. It’s vital to balance security with convenience. If the UI is too complex, users may put down your app even if it’s the most secure product in the world.

Regular Security Testing and Updates

Continuous security testing and updates are crucial to maintain app security. Here's how we implement continuous security measures for our clients' apps:

We've integrated advanced automated security scanning tools into our development pipeline. These tools run continuously, checking for vulnerabilities with every code commit. This allows us to catch potential issues early in the development process.

Our automated testing suite includes:

  • Static code analysis to detect security flaws in the source code
  • Dynamic analysis to identify runtime vulnerabilities
  • Dependency checks to flag known vulnerabilities in third-party libraries
  • Automated API security testing

We conduct regular penetration testing on all our client apps. Our team of ethical hackers simulates real-world attacks to identify potential weaknesses that automated tools might miss. We perform these tests:

  • Before major releases
  • After significant updates
  • At least once every six months for actively maintained apps

Our development process includes mandatory security-focused code reviews. Senior developers and security experts examine the code to ensure it adheres to our secure coding guidelines. We look for:

  • Proper implementation of security controls
  • Correct use of cryptographic functions
  • Secure handling of user data
  • Potential logic flaws that could lead to security issues

We believe in the power of community-driven security. In our apps, we implement:

  • Easy-to-use bug reporting features
  • Clear channels for users to report security concerns
  • A responsible disclosure policy for security researchers
  • Bug bounty programs for select high-profile apps

We maintain a rigorous update schedule to ensure all our partners' apps stay secure. Here's a sample of our update schedule:

In the picture you can find a recommended schedule for updates to keep your mobile app secure

Our approach not only protects against known threats, but also positions us to quickly adapt to new security challenges as they arise. We work closely with each partner to ensure they understand our security processes and the critical role of regular updates in maintaining a strong security posture.

Summing Up

Securing a mobile app is not a one-time task, but an ongoing commitment to protect user data and ensure a trustworthy user experience.

The best practices discussed—from secure coding and data encryption to robust authentication and regular security updates—form the cornerstone of a comprehensive security strategy. Understanding the threat landscape and proactively addressing vulnerabilities can prevent data breaches, protect your reputation, and ensure compliance with legal standards.

At Techstack, we've integrated these practices into our development process to deliver highly secure mobile applications across various industries. Our approach combines cutting-edge technology with rigorous testing and continuous improvement, ensuring that our apps remain resilient against evolving security threats.