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Develop Secure Mobile Applications

We share best practices to create safe mobile apps for users and customers.

InformationWeek Green - Nov. 28, 2011 InformationWeek Green
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Secure Mobile Apps The runaway success of mobile devices and apps like Angry Birds has touched off a frenzy of development, as companies rush to roll out apps for consumer and enterprise markets alike. These days, if your business isn't on a mobile platform, it's nowhere. But when developers are under pressure to release new applications, security is often an afterthought. That's bad news for consumer data, applications, and a company's infrastructure.

We've been here before, of course. It happened with client-server applications, then Web applications, and now mobile platforms. The more code that's written and the more platforms on which it runs, the more vulnerabilities will be present. It's safe to assume that all applications have security flaws, and those written to run on mobile devices are no exception.

What follows is a look at several challenges to securing mobile applications and guidance on what you can do about them.

Work Security In Early

Developers are pushing out code as fast as they can, and security concerns can easily get lost. In hypercompetitive markets, the business very likely isn't going to tolerate slowing the release rate to accommodate secure coding practices. To avoid being blamed for late releases, security pros must find ways to implement security without affecting timelines.

First, you must find low-impact ways to meet security requirements. Use automated code-analysis software during the build and test process, perform security testing during quality assurance, and work with developers to use standard preapproved libraries that have been reviewed for security. These steps go a long way toward reducing the effort required in the final security review, which typically occurs at the end of the development cycle and leaves little time for security testing and remediation.

Pay Attention To Web Links

Mobile applications typically connect to Web apps to send, retrieve, and process data, so the Web application layer presents significant risks. If you're performing code reviews, using standardized libraries, and applying other application development processes to protect Web applications, you're already doing a lot of what's needed to secure mobile applications.

Keeping Data Safe on the Move

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This report includes 14 pages of action-oriented analysis to help you secure mobile apps. What you'll find:
  • Best practices on secure app development
  • Advice for security teams on working with developers
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