OptiSol is excited to release this white paper on Android Security and Network Management best practices that focus on providing measures to protect mobile apps from the breach. The report highlights the security solutions that can be incorporated into the mobile application in the entire development cycle to make it safer from security threats.
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In today’s online environment, the possibility of network vulnerability and data leakage is common and dangerous. The growing requirement of mobile applications in business has raised a huge question about the level of security it provides in the safeguarding corporate data and protection from mobile threats. Thus, one of the key requirements in mobile app development is applying a vigorous security model that protects data privacy and allows secure usage. The android applications are developed with inbuilt security features, which are leveraged by developers during the building and testing stages of application development. This paper gives the best practices that need to be followed in the entire development cycle to provide industry enabled security in the application.
High-Level User Authentication
The sensitive information remains secure through robust session management and a disconnected system. You should prioritize the importance of setting up the advanced authentication mechanism, using tools like JSON web tokens or OAuth 2.0.
- OAuth 2.0
- JSON web tokens
- Authenticate users and keys with biometrics (Face Recognition, Fingerprint)
Protect the source code by making it unintelligible for both humans and the decompiler. All this, while preserving its entire operations during the compilation. The purpose of the obfuscation process is to give an impenetrable code. It promotes the confidentiality of all intellectual properties against reverse engineering.
We recommend R8 or ProGuard as a baseline for any application to make reverse engineering a little harder. For more advanced app protection, you can use the commercial tool DexGuard (commercial tool). It optimizes and protects the entire Android app, including bytecode, native code, resources, and assets.
Data Encryption and Secure the Server
Security in mobile apps involves keeping all kinds of information stored in the device securely. It encompasses the data that is transited between the back-end server and the application as well as the source code.
- Using HTTPS and SSL provides secure protocols for transferring data between your app and servers.
- The communications between an app and the servers must be over an HTTPS connection.
- By using HTTPS and the server that is configured with a certificate issued by a trusted certificate authority, assures that your network traffic is secure against attacks.
- Encrypting input data before passing to server and server will decrypt to get original data.
Network Security Management
Use SSL traffic: If your app communicates with a web server that has a certificate issued by a well-known, trusted CA, the HTTPS request is very simple.
Add a network security configuration: If your app uses new or custom CAs, you can declare your network’s security settings in a configuration file. This process allows you to create the configuration without modifying any app code. We can do in two ways one is manifest and another one is XML file configuration.
- Certificate pinning: Restrict secure connections to particular certificates
- Cleartext traffic opt-out: Disable cleartext traffic
- Enable the Network Security Configuration by manifest or XML file
Create our own trust manager: Your SSL checker shouldn’t accept every certificate. You may need to set up a trust manager and handle all SSL warnings that occur if one of the following conditions applies to your use case:
- You’re communicating with a web server that has a certificate signed by a new or custom CA.
- That CA isn’t trusted by the device you’re using.
- You cannot use a network security configuration
Client-Side Secure Data Storage:
If you are saving data on the external storage and don’t want people to access it, encrypt it.
Passwords, session tokens, recognition hash values should be stored as encrypted data and get values by decryption.
We can use SQLCipher for handling encryption and decryption in database handling. We will store encrypted data in the database and get values by decryption with the same algorithm we used to encrypt.
AES and RSA are still extremely safe for usage in Android applications. With this encryption level, you can store your public keys even in SharedPreferences.
For private secret keys, Android provides Android Keystore System that available since API 18. It is special secure storage and the key once stored in it can’t be somehow exported back but it still can be used for the encryption/decryption process.
- File Encryption
- Encrypted key-value storage
- Data Encryption (Advanced Encryption Standard)
Analytics data can often already be enough to identify users or to be able to access their data. E.g. an analytics framework recording your screen for crash reports can read your users’ login credentials.
- Google Analytics
- App center Analytics
- We can use different tools available in the market.
- Use implicit intents and non-exported content providers
- Share data securely across apps
- The files inside the directory are secure as they use the MODE_PRIVATE file creation mode by default.
- Do not pass sensitive information through Broadcast
- Never ever store Password and private keys in shared preference
- Restrict google API key access in cloud console by add package and SHA key details.
- Protect your Service and content provider with Permission by exported as false in the manifest.
- Disable log in production mode
Use Implicit Intents and Non-Exported Content Providers
Show an app chooser:
When you safeguard the data that you exchange between your app and other apps, or between your app and a website, you improve your app’s stability and protect the data that you send and receive.
Apply for signature-based permissions in the manifest:
- When sharing data between two apps that you control or own, use signature-based permissions.
- These permissions don’t require user confirmation and instead check that the apps accessing the data are signed using the same signing key.
- Therefore, these permissions offer a more streamlined, secure user experience.
Disallow access to your app’s content providers:
Unless you intend to send data from your app to a different app that you don’t own, you should explicitly disallow other developers’ apps from accessing the ContentProvider objects that your app contains.
Ask for credentials before showing sensitive information:
When requesting credentials from users so that they can access sensitive information or premium content in your app, ask for either a PIN/password/pattern or a biometric credential,
Share Data Security Across Apps
Follow these steps to share your app’s content with other apps in a more secure manner.
- Enforce read-only or write-only permissions as needed.
- Provide clients one-time access to data by using the FLAG_GRANT_READ_URI_PERMISSION and FLAG_GRANT_WRITE_URI_PERMISSION
- When sharing data, use “content://” URIs, not “file://” URIs. Instances of FileProvider do this for you.
Mobile solutions help the organization/enterprises to reach their customers and prospects effectively and are a vital part of the digital transformation strategy. Even though eliminating security threats is not possible, protecting our devices from external threats is a wise decision. This whitepaper has given an overview of the android security and network management practices followed by developers during the application development.
Hope you enjoyed this white paper and we look forward to your suggestions and inputs.
For more about the WhitePaper, Click HERE: White paper on Android Security and Network Management