Mobile App Security
As the popularity of smartphones skyrockets, so does the innovative output from mobile developers. This new technology is without a doubt transforming how we do business, make purchases, and simply live our day to day lives. But with every lucrative and emerging technology, security is brought into question. And some app developers may trade user privacy for increased profits.
The mobile app space is just starting to see the effects of security issues, with two incidents in recent weeks that have brought mobile security under a microscope. Google overrode Apple security in their web browser, Safari (default on all Apple products) to collect cookies for their targeted advertising and Google+ integration. And in a notable case for a new social network, Path was exposed for capturing iPhone users’ private address book data.
While both Google and Path are correcting the issues, consumers are increasingly hesitant to provide personal information to mobile apps for fear of private data being taken and misused.
If your app in any way handles private information, easing security concerns can reassure your user base — and lead to more downloads. Here are some things to consider when building your app:
If you are in a business where security is of the utmost importance, such as a banking or financial institution, an app that functions the same as a secure website or an in-store visit may not be necessary (or well received by your customers). By researching exactly what your target audience wants to be able to do on the go and what they are comfortable doing on their phones you can create an app that meets their needs without scaring them away with security issues.
User Permissions Approval
While the major platforms (Android, Blackberry, Apple) have established guidelines for developers to limit their ability to access information stored on users’ phones, the rules aren’t always followed (which is one of the main reasons for security concerns). One way to build confidence is to not only require an approval for changes to security permissions settings, but to make sure your users’ know about the required change. Using a pop-up, as pictured below, is a great way to keep users informed.
Social Integration Alternative.
Consumers are opting for stricter privacy in the information they share on the Internet (including both social networks and mobile apps). More and more apps (such as Pinterest, see below) are utilizing social network accounts to give their users an easier log-in experience, the ability to skip the sign-up process, and the ability to connect with friends across networks.
However, this is not universally accepted and requiring this can lead consumers to opt out of using the app. Pinterest addresses this by allowing users an option to integrate with their social network if desired or to use the app through alternative credentials (email address, user name, etc.).
A single security breach can lead to the loss of thousands of otherwise loyal mobile app users. Don’t risk your mobile app’s reputation — make sure that data security is a central, and obvious, part of your app development plan.