app security

App usage is increasing every year. Over 205.4 billion apps were downloaded in 2018, and by 2022 this number is predicted to rise to over 258 billion. Furthermore, app interaction accounts for 89% of all time spent on mobile devices. Apps dominate modern life, but they don’t come without risks.

Recently, a security flaw in WhatsApp allowed attackers to install spy software on its users’ smartphones. The incident left the 1.5 billion people who use the messaging app questioning just how safe it, and other apps, really are.

Businesses and the app revolution

Apps aren’t just something we use in our personal lives: a growing number of businesses are using apps as well. Studies show that the number of apps used by businesses has increased by 68% over the past four years, with companies using an average of 129 apps in their IT systems.

Businesses are starting to see the benefits of developing their own apps too. Nearly half of all small businesses have invested in building their own app, and a further 30% plan to invest in an app in the near future. Moreover, 87% of companies report they are dependent on employees being able to access and use mobile business apps.

With app usage on the rise, app security is a major concern for businesses. So what can be done to make them safer?

The benefits of apps for businesses

While app security is an issue, apps can also offer many benefits for businesses and their employees. They can serve a range of business-specific needs like communicating with employees, delivering company news, tracking and requesting annual leave or for training purposes. Apps can also offer:

  • An efficient form of internal, two-way communication that allows colleagues to respond in real-time
  • Greater flexibility, and the ability to communicate and collaborate with colleagues on the go or out of working hours
  • Seamless connectivity with colleagues and resources for remote workers

Companies that have incorporated apps into their ways of working are witnessing the benefits: 24% report app usage boosts employee productivity, and a further 30% say using apps has improved their business processes.

App security—are apps safe for your business?

Despite the benefits, no app is 100% safe. Most messaging apps are likely to have security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers

The issue of app security is further complicated by the fact that not all apps are equal, and some can be safer than others. There are a few questions you should ask yourself to judge the safety of an app:

  • Does the app and its developers have a good reputation? Have they received positive reviews?
  • Is the app sold via a trusted store like The App Store or Google Play?
  • What is the app’s privacy policy? What data will the app collect and how will it use that data?
  • What permissions does the app require? Some apps may ask to see your location or for the ability to read your SD card—are you comfortable giving the app access to this information?

In addition, businesses can ensure they’re using apps as safely as possible by taking the following security measures:

  • Installing app and operating system security updates when prompted
  • Using different passwords for every app
  • Enabling two-step authentication where possible to prevent attackers logging in

What about device security?

App security isn’t the only issue businesses need to consider. Studies show that 67% of employees use their own devices at work. A further 70% spend two or more hours each week accessing company information via their mobile devices.

There are risks when connecting to your network via third-party devices like smartphones and iPads. Companies can improve device security by:

  • Having secure passwords in place for mobile devices
  • Deciding whether they allow BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) or just the use of company-owned devices
  • Ensuring devices are encrypted
  • Installing a remote-wipe application so confidential information can be quickly removed if the device is lost or stolen

Ensuring your company’s apps and devices are secure

Apps and mobile devices can offer several benefits for businesses, but there are security risks involved. That’s why it’s important to have efficient security systems in place, and make sure your company has a defence strategy for cybercrime.

Here at CBSIT, we offer comprehensive security solutions and services designed to protect a business’s entire IT system. We also help companies manage ongoing and future threats to security. Get in touch to discuss your security requirements with one of our expert advisors today.