If mobile is the future, then apps are its stepping stones — both inseparable and complementing each other. Not very long ago, the disruptive mobile industry changed the global technological landscape by making smartphones ubiquitous and spurring the growth of an app-based ecology. While the future appears bright, this unprecedented increase in smartphone app usage hides a dark secret: data leakage. This handheld-ingenious technology, driven by apps, is a breeding ground for cybercriminals and prying organizations out to steal and harvest your data.
Predicting the security trends for 2022, an analysis showed 93% of the malware attacks suffered by organizations began in a device network. According to the report, phishing emails acquired 52% of sensitive credentials from mobiles, suggesting that attackers' interest in mobile devices for sensitive information will only increase moving forward.
Before diving into potential threats that may lead to data leakage, it is important to understand what mobile application security is and why a data leakage can be disastrous.
What is mobile application security?
Mobile application security is the practice of securing or defending smartphones and mobile apps from digital fraud, malware, data leakage, and other forms of cyber threat. According to research, 71% of fraud transactions begin from mobile applications and mobile browsing. One out of every 36 smartphone devices has critical-risk applications installed. These apps can monitor users’ sensitive data or lead to data leakage, the research adds.
What is data leakage?
Data leakage is the unauthorized practice of transmitting data from within an organization to a malicious person or organization. Company, application, website, and other data may be copied or transferred to expose or misuse them.
Well-known mobile app security threats and solutions to help prevent data leakage
Secure the browsing
Almost all mobile phones come with pre-installed web browsers like Google Chrome, Safari, or Mozilla Firefox. All of these modern browsers provide search engines embedded in their address bar. These companies monitor and store users’ search keywords, patterns, and behaviours in their Cloud platform as datasets. They leverage this data for marketing and personalizing the user experience. However, there is no denying that these datasets can be used for harm if that data is leaked.
Solution: Users concerned with privacy can opt for alternatives, such as Epic, Tor, Brave, Bromite, etc, or adjust their privacy settings.
Unnecessary app permission is a concern
A lot of android and iPhone apps ask for mobile feature permissions, which they seldom require while operating. This is a telltale sign of an app attempting data leakage. Most smartphones come with built-in location, motion, compass, and proximity sensors, among others. Many apps leverage these sensors with or without your consent to understand your situation or location. Using these sensors, app companies comprehend your jogging or sleeping patterns. Be careful while giving permissions to apps.
Solution: Check to see what permissions you are giving to each app and disable the ones that aren't necessary.
Mobile App vulnerability
Threat actors continue to target apps in search of flaws or deficiencies, which is another major source of data loss. Once they find the flaw, they can easily crawl into the system and steal sensitive data. Many users and app vendors do not address such vulnerabilities in time. Users must perform a background check of the apps to ensure they are up to date and get timely security updates.
Solution: Perform a background check on the app in question to ensure it is up to date and has the latest security update.
Prevent data caching
Cached data is the storehouse of information related to the user’s behaviour.
The user's current actions are stored in the cache while data from previous interactions are held in the cache and may be used to predict future ones. Many apps use this data to increase the overall user experience. However, this may be a risky move since private and personal information such as login credentials, email IDs, passwords, phone numbers, addresses, etc. might also be included in the cache.
Solution: Clear the cache data associated with each application to prevent other apps & malware from harvesting it. Cleaning cache manually helps reduce data leakage.
Weak mobile app security can lead to data leakage, damage of reputation, financial ramifications, and digital privacy breach. Apps might be a great way to increase productivity, but if employees are not aware of the risks, data leaks can create a big problem for an organization.
A security consultant like Packetlabs can provide actionable advice, guidance, and best practice recommendations against data leakage through mobile apps.
Contact the PackletLabs team to learn how you can strengthen your security posture today.