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Mobile financial services apps may seem like an enticing target for malicious actors because so much sensitive financial information flows through them. But that’s not the only reason. The reality is that many of these financial services apps have inadequate protections.
In fact, our research found that less than 50% of more than 3,000 financial apps on the Android marketplace have adequate mobile application security. That means there’s a lot of room for improvement across the entire mobile financial services ecosystem.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss the four biggest areas where financial services organizations can improve their mobile application security.
A recent report suggests that rogue mobile apps (such as app clones) have increased by 49% in just one year, and 68% of digital banking fraud originated from mobile channels. Clearly, the security risks surrounding mobile financial services apps continue to grow, highlighting the need for organizations to consider a proactive approach to security to stay ahead of malicious actors.
But this requires more than just considering application security after a failed pentest or certification process. Industry leaders need to view security as an integral part of their mobile application architecture and design. Doing so helps these financial institutions build and maintain consumer trust, which can help attract new customers and retain existing ones.
In short, there are regulatory and financial consequences for financial services companies that take a reactive approach to mobile app security, many of which can be prevented by shifting security earlier in the app development process.
Many financial services companies only protect their Android apps because they believe iOS is inherently secure, but this isn’t the case. In fact, this false sense of security is putting many mobile financial services apps at risk of their apps being tampered with, the distribution of clones of their apps, and other negative outcomes.
The reality is that – despite the promise of Apple’s “walled garden” – there are thousands of hacked iOS apps available for download outside the App Store, and there are ways users can install these without even needing a jailbroken device. Moreover, every iOS version to date has been jailbroken, making it even easier to download apps from alternative app stores.
These are just a few reasons why it’s critical for financial services companies to consider implementing strong security measures for both Android and iOS apps.
While many financial services app publishers recognize the importance of code hardening against static attacks, they’re still not implementing adequate security measures to defend against dynamic attacks. These runtime threats could include the interception of sensitive financial information being communicated to servers.
Industry leading mobile financial services app publishers use runtime application self-protection (RASP) to thwart tampering attempts when the app is running. This includes adequate debugger and hook detection during runtime to protect sensitive data once it’s loaded and available in memory. In addition, proper repacking detection allows organizations to block rogue apps on the server side.
By implementing RASP techniques, financial services app publishers can further strengthen their app’s security measures against both static and dynamic attacks.
Threat actors are experienced at finding apps with weak security measures to target, so many financial companies with inadequate security mobile app processes could be at risk. This is why industry leaders recognize that a security-first mindset is critical to business success.
Mobile financial services app publishers might choose to forego comprehensive security due to concerns about costs or time to market, but mobile AppSec doesn't need to negatively impact either of these. DevSecOps – where security is integrated into the development process – can reduce the TCO of mobile app development and app security, while accelerating app delivery at the same time.
That’s why the most secure apps implement comprehensive mobile app security throughout the entire software development lifecycle, from scanning for vulnerabilities and hardening the app code to monitoring for threats after publication. With the right developer-friendly security tools, mobile financial services app publishers can seamlessly integrate these security measures into their existing development workflows.
Guardsquare’s AppSweep is a free mobile application testing solution that can help app developers find and fix security issues within their code and dependencies. Scan your app with AppSweep today to get a free, accurate assessment of the current security profile of your mobile app.