App Security is the Key to Success For Service Providers - Here is How to Go About It

April 23, 2019
4 minutes read
Category: Security
Author: Stefan Kostić

A quick question - how many apps have you used today?

The answer is more than likely - a large number. But, do you know that while $80 billion is spent on electronic security per year, only $1 billion is spent on actual application security?

You already probably feel like these funds aren’t allocated as they should be, but just in case, I’ll tell you this as well - 70% of all attacks happen at the application level.

As such, it is clear that application-level security is an area that service providers simply can’t afford to turn a blind eye to. Considering that their apps are hosted on the cloud, it’s of no use to keep upgrading security around databases only. The ever-growing number of cyber attacks alone should be enough to prove this.

For an app to be able to stand its ground in today’s time, from the service providers’ point of view, and maybe more importantly from the end users’, its security is crucial for its success.

Implementing App Security at Design Phase Actually Lowers Costs for Service Providers

Although at first, it might seem like implementing app security measures at the design phase of your project is just another unnecessary expense, I have to break it to you - that initial expense doesn’t come near the actual costs of cyber attacks.

Let’s take financial services companies for an example. Microsoft and Frost & Sullivan Study concluded that after a cyber attack, a large financial services company incurs an average of  $7.9 million of economic losses, directly and indirectly since these costs rake up due to the domino effect.

And how much would it have been to have included security at the design phase?

Sure, if your app doesn’t have anything to do with financial services, your costs may not be this high. But look at this - the 2018 Radware Report finds that the average cost of a cyber attack now exceeds $1 million, a 52% increase!

To me, spending a little bit more on security at the basis of an app doesn’t sound so bad, and this seems to be the biggest issue in the app development industry.

A poll by CSO found that 75% said that lack of funding or management buy-in was the top challenge in implementing security at this phase, and this shouldn’t be the case.

The first step to appropriate app security is implementing it in the app development phase. The second is testing these security measures to be able to find and mitigate any vulnerabilities.

This entails checking every single aspect of your mobile app, from network services to static components. It’s about finding possible weak points before the attackers do. It’s QA in the security setting.

Not only would this process lessen the chances of experiencing cyber attacks, but fixing these weaknesses at this stage would be a lot cheaper than fixing them after your app goes live, even if these weaknesses called for a change in the whole architecture.

And if that weren’t enough, you should know that security testing is becoming mandatory for complying with industry standards and regulations. We are finally seeing this transition to mandatory for mobile apps as well.

Great App Security Influences Great User Trust Influences Great User Adoption

In addition to sparing your company unnecessary expenses, great app security actually has the potential to increase your user base and, depending on your exact business model, the revenue, by simply working on building the trust between your service and your users.

Did you know that more than three-quarters of users across Asia have experienced some type of online theft?

What this has resulted in, besides gigantic expenses for the companies, is eroded user trust, and no wonder, when the goal of cyber attacks is usually service disruption, with application-layer DoS causing the most damage. These threats endanger the whole customer experience.

Add to that the fact that 34% view application vulnerabilities as the biggest threat in 2019 according to the Radware Report, and I think it’s pretty clear where our priorities need to be, especially in the predominantly mobile world of today.

Let me put it like this - if your users don’t trust your app, or if they trust another app more, you can be sure that they won’t be your users. And why would you even develop an app if no one is going to use it?

An ideal solution will increase security levels to further increase the trust and confidence users have in your app for ultimately higher user adoption rates.

Secure, Seamless and Continuous Authentication Solutions to Lock It All Together

Now that you’ve secured the inside of your app, it’s vital that you don’t forget about the endpoints.

In the era of phishing attacks, manual and automated, and malicious bots, among many other threats, a secure, yet seamless and continuous authentication solution is what is needed to tie this prism of app security together.

When going about this security, it’s important to not go overboard with authentication measures because users value their convenience. In fact, so much so that over 70% say that easiness of use is why they prefer one authentication option over the other.

So, what would be best?

I say some type of a multi-factor authentication system, but one that doesn’t make a compromise between security, seamlessness and privacy.

2FA alone is not enough, header enrichment alone is a big no-no, blockchain is not there yet, and biometrics pose certain risks to user privacy.

Combining multiple seamless authentication options that cover for each other’s weaknesses could just be the answer.

What we have worked on is an authentication solution that values all these important aspects equally, yet efficiently.

IPification relies on cryptographic mobile network operator data, in combination with SIM card and device data, and detects any possible changes, enabling us to quickly and seamlessly verify a user’s digital identity.

And all of this is done quickly in the background, at the point of access, but also throughout the usage of the app - to ensure maximum security.

Implementing a secure authentication solution means tying up any loose ends that might otherwise be abused, and therefore need to be thought out carefully.