Top 5 Tips to Build Secure Android Apps

 Android App Security Best Practices
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A surge in smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices has empowered customers to find, engage, and interact with their favorite brands at their convenience. As part of this, many businesses offer integrated personalized Android apps to promote their services and strengthen their brand marketing.

However, after the first quarter of 2017, the ransomware and malware attacks increased at a rapid pace. As a result, millions of applications containing unencrypted user and business data are exposed to a threat of security breach. Therefore, app security has become an essential part of an Android application development process.

In this article, we will explore the best practices for Android app security.

How to build secure Android apps?
The Android operating system has in-built security features such as Android application sandbox, encrypted file system, permission-based access, and more. However, these features are helpful to secure simple Android apps. To secure complex Android apps and even to secure simple Android apps more, follow the below mentioned advanced security practices.

1. Assign API Keys
Most applications interact with APIs using assigned keys to collect or send data. If the API key is not assigned, then hackers can make DDOS attacks on the servers and steal the user’s data with ease. So make sure to assign a key to every API. Besides, add a user token in the request header. It will help to identify and block any malicious activity from a particular user.

2. Obfuscate Code
Code obfuscation means to mask the code’s logic, purpose, and even the embedded values in it. This process can be done either manually or using a tool.

When a developer obfuscates code, it is possible to:

  • Encrypt some or all the source code
  • Strip out potentially divulging metadata
  • Rename useful variables and class names to meaningless labels
  • Add illogical code in the application’s binary to confuse hackers

3. Restrict Access to Google API Key
Most of the developers use the Google developer console to create API keys for Google services (for example, Google maps services) and add them into their applications. Toward that, the developers should restrict the API key access to the app from the Google console.
Moreover, they should add their SHA-1 certificate fingerprint along with the package name. This process will restrict the requests using API keys outside the app and the number of APIs that a single key can access.

4. Use HTTPS
Many users connect to several open WiFi networks in public places, and that makes the Android app vulnerable to malicious hotspots. Therefore, the developer should configure the server with an HTTPS certificate issued by a trusted authority. It will ensure privacy and data integrity between an application and a server. Moreover, it will secure the network traffic against eavesdropping attacks.

5. Protect Data in Transit
A developer should proactively focus on the app defense mechanism, such as status-based access and jailbreak detection. Besides, non-compliant devices should not get access to business data.
If a device is lost or stolen, then the IT department or the user can use selective data removal. It helps to delete the business data stored on the device remotely.

Some bonus tips to secure Android apps

  • Use robust data validation (input validation) to prevent improperly formatted data from entering in the information system. Further, it will help to make the app more secure.
  • Store sensitive data on the server-side or the client-side. This process will help to keep the data safe when the device is stolen.
  • Use pinning certificate and the hash key to strengthening app security. Besides, the encryption key should be of at least 128 bits as per the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).
  • Regularly test and update the application versions to make them less vulnerable from hackers. Use penetration testing for server-side checks.

Conclusion
Modern users prefer to use an application that provides a safe environment for them to interact with the system or other users. Following the tips mentioned above, will assist in building a secure mobile application. As part of this, an experienced Android mobile app development team can help to integrate the latest security features into your application.

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