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Security Checklist to Consider for Android App Development

Security Checklist to Consider for Android App Development

Thousands of apps are being released to major app stores every day. Yet, most of them wither before they even have a chance to bloom.

The effort, money, and time that is put into developing apps are enormous. Once you’ve got a lot of negative feedback from the users, there will be hardly any second chance given to prove the worth of your app. So ensuring security should be a major step taken by app development companies.

Security check is implanted into all the latest releases of Android app development to bring in a number of features for its users.

As security has become more of a concerning element for Android users, Google has launched a new security-focused page on Android developers site. This site provides tips for app creators to make their apps free from issues.

Some of the most common security vulnerabilities of android apps include the following:

1. Inadequate Transport Layer protection
2. Client side injection
3. Poor authorization & authentication
4. Security decisions through untrusted inputs
5. Broken cryptography
6. Lack of binary protections
7. Improper session handling
8. Unintended data leakage
9. Insecure data storage
10. Weak server side controls

Android operating system has several built in security features which makes attacks less frequent. These features allow enabling security easier during android app development. The main in-built security features include the ones given below.

•  Android Application Sandbox can be used to isolate the app data and code execution from other apps.
•  Data can be protected using an encrypted file system in case of device loss or theft.
•  Application data can be controlled by enabling application-defined permissions.
•  It enables user granted permissions. This will restrict access to the user data and system features.
•  Includes technologies to reduce memory management errors which include ASLR, ProPolice etc.

Since ensuring the safety of user data is a very crucial step in confirming your app’s success following the given below security check-list is important for every app developer:

1. Apps should use permissions that are necessary for integrated features. Developers should pay more attention to the permission factors that are used by the app’s libraries

2. The registration and activation process should be well made.

3. Never store sensitive information on external storage, since the data will become very easy to exploit.

4. Network transactions should be adequately protected as it involves transmission of private data.

5. Strong input validation is very important for app security.

6. When using native code, attacks that can be induced from data coming over a network or IPC should be controlled by carefully handling the pointers and managing buffers.

7. Use parametrized queries to submit to SQL database in order to stay safe from SQL injection.

8. JavaScript injection is a common web security issue when using the WebView as it makes use of website content that will include HTML and Javascript.

9. Use authorization token instead of frequently asking for user credentials so as to reduce fishing attacks.

10. Android offers a lot of methods to protect data, such as data isolation, entire file system encryption, cryptography, and secure communication channels.

11. Its better to use Android based Intent, Binder, or Messenger than Linux based network sockets and shared files to execute IPC.

12. In Android, Intent is preferably used towards an application component for asynchronous IPC.

13. For RPC related IPC, using Binder or Messenger is preferred, which can ensure mutual authentication of endpoints.

14. Loading code from outside of your application APK, can increase the risk of code injection.

15. Use of sensitive APIs and data from external storage should be verified as safe enough before using it in an app

16. Properly configured SSL should be in place to secure communication between clients and servers.

17. A new building block is introduced for anti-abuse- SafetyNet attestation(it’s an API for developers to vaguely evaluate whether the used Android device is genuine)

18. As several untrusted contents are handled in web view improvements are made in Android Lollipop. Now the Web View is showcased as an independent APK with regular updates

19. Mandatory use of application sandbox (a security mechanism to separate running programs to execute untrusted programs/codes)

20. Enhance security with Device Management Solutions

21. Methods to defend users against PHAs (Potentially Harmful Applications)using Verify Apps, which potentially enables steps to validate threats targeting the system

22. Verified boot is a protection layer that help to improve security checks using cryptographic integrity to detect changes in the operating system

23. Android O has now introduced “seccomp” (a security measure used in Linux kernal) which stops the exploitation by potentially harmful apps.

These are the few best practices that needs to be considered to maintain security while Android app development. Whether you are an Android developer or an entrepreneur, knowledge on a few caveats is important to set the right place in app market.

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