The importance of security can never be understated in today’s age of big-time security breaches, where cyber-criminals strike at will. However, the enterprise app development team needs to make sure that the security does not impede usability, or in other words, security is not self-defeating.
Most apps and solutions tap into the corporate database and handle sensitive data, including personally identifiable information. The implications of a breach can be ruinous and even sound the death-knell of the company. However, at the same time, today’s demanding workforce and highly pampered customers seek intuitive and easy-to-use apps. Customer satisfaction is critical to the survival of the app.
The conventional approach to security is akin to adding more number of locks to the door of a house. While it makes it difficult for thieves to penetrate such a house, it also makes it difficult for the occupants themselves to enter. In the digital world, forced to log in every time, forced to log in first into the device, then log into the software, and then enter a transaction password, being forced to change all these passwords once every two weeks, being said the password is not long enough or was used previously, and more, all strengthen security, but are major irritants and impede usability greatly.
Here are some ways to balance the security-usability conundrum, or ensure security does not end-up self-defeating the very purpose of the app.
Implement Security by Design
The best approach to security is “security by design” or co-opting security during the development process itself.
When security is embedded into the planning, design and implementation phases, developers may code with security in mind, use secure frameworks, and co-opt security testing a part of the app development process.
Adding security layers at a later stage makes the entire process awkward, and hinders usability. Often tweaks have to be affected, and well-written code redone. The analogy is to manufacturing a door with a single tamper-proof deadbolt lock built-in, as opposed to adding multiple locks after the door is installed, to get the same strength.
Collaborate with all Stakeholders
App developers need to collaborate with security experts and business managers, to assess the security risks and determine the best solutions to solve underlying security issues.
If bringing the security and development team together is a challenge, establishing common ground is an even bigger challenge. Developers seek to make things as easy as possible for their customers or users. The security team remains obsessed with the safety of data, often with the attitude if someone has to wait a few extra seconds to access the data, so be it. They remain oblivious to the implications of the harried customer moving on elsewhere rather than wait or put up with a convoluted system. Google usability studies reveal even a tenth of a second delay in an app’s performance adversely affects the user experience.
A collaborative team effort, where every stakeholder is part of the prototype, design, and testing tasks make finding a common ground and workarounds easy. For instance, with a security team in the mix, developers will no longer have to figure how to securely connect to the enterprise every time they build an app. Inputs from the security team would help them build a secure connection, VPN or otherwise, which may even be reused for other apps. In the same way, security could design a secure way for users to log into these apps.
Opt for Hardware-Based Authentication
Developments in hardware technology offer an effective antidote to security vulnerabilities, without having to compromise on usability. A case in point is Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner and compatible Android systems. By deploying such hardware-based security and authentication, users do not have to wrestle with irritating passwords, and developers are spared the cumbersome work in securing data and authenticating users through the application code. It also leads to faster development lifecycle and a much cleaner code.
Limit Availability of Sensitive Data
If data is not there to be stolen, it won’t be stolen.
Businesses would do well to reconsider their business model and limit the availability of data online only to the minimal extent required. Hypersensitive data may be stored in impregnable silos, using military grade authentication, quite contrary to the much-touted logic of eradicating silos to facilitate big data analytics. Only the data required for analytics may be released, on a need-basis.
Developers could also make use of Security Information and Event Management (SIEM). SIEM collects security log events from numerous hosts connected to the enterprise servers, to identify normal patterns. An abnormal usage pattern triggers alerts, and even lockdowns, safeguarding the data. At the same time, normal, routine usage is allowed unobtrusively. The challenge lies in the complexity of configuring the SIEM.
Leverage the Power of Simplicity
Leverage the power of simplicity. Simple apps, with a minimalist design, and lean coding are not just easy on the users but contain lesser vulnerabilities. Such a set-up also minimize the chance of users doing anything to compromise security. A case in point is Amsterdam-based Usabilla putting in the minimal security necessary, and nothing more for its consumer feedback service. The simplifying services and features encouraged users to follow the right path rather than take actions having potential security implications.
Hire Competent Developers
Often skills gaps, poor planning and poor understanding of the business model by the developer aggravates the usability-security conundrum. Hiring competent enterprise app developers, who have considerable experience and exposure to the business, who are able to work closely with business managers, and who are able to deploy the best tools and techniques of the trade, is the key to develop highly intuitive apps, which are highly secure at the same time.
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A niche business is no longer a term used often these days due to growing competition in every sector. In the world of startups and well-established enterprises, the companies that stand out clearly in front of their customers will only survive and succeed. Smartphones and fast data packs are beneficial to companies in terms of reaching out to their customers via desktop and mobile websites. But having such a front is a norm today and you will have to think of giving a little more to engage them. According to studies, business mobile apps have a higher rate of conversation when compared to desktop or mobile websites. You must be thinking how will a custom mobile application development help boost your business? Here’s how –
1. Better customer relationship
A custom business app offers customers a way to access your services and products directly. Especially, if you are a product-oriented company, you can have your products laid out better over the standard formats of e-retailers. Also, you can send offers, notifications, and even receive feedback from customers in real-time. You can even have a dedicated app team that offers support 24 x 7 and sorts query for customers with in-app emails and chat.
2. Creating and maintaining database
A custom app will give you the opportunity to access existing customer data and acquire new ones. Also, your app will have your own specialized security features that will safeguard your data against potential leaks and threats.
3. Integration with current services
If you are a software provider then a good way to offer more to your clients is by creating a custom app that syncs with your software. There can be reports, updates, and even a way to access information quickly and easily. To further improve client satisfaction, you can even hire a dedicated support team for app management. Such integration will definitely give your software some extra brownie points while marketing it.
4. Generate revenue
Apps are not just a great way to connect with your customers but can also work as a good revenue source for the business. You can charge customers a little extra for app services or an upgrade. Also, you can have in-app advertisements that add income to your kitty whenever your app is accessed by the customers.
5. Increase customer base
An app ensures that a customer is in your space and the only things they can surf around are your products and services. Having a custom app gives you a chance to put your case forward to new customers and even attract them with in-app offers. You can start giving them free trials and additional discounts via app downloads to add to your revenue. A custom app will define your uniqueness as it adds up to a brand identity for your business.
6. Project Management
Apart from seeking and retaining customers, your entire team can benefit from having an app that works for internal purposes only. Custom logins at each hierarchy can give them access to groups, documents, tasks, calendars, and more to run your business smoothly no matter where they are working from. This is beneficial especially if you have several teams working from different locations. Each team can receive updates regarding the project. Also, it helps in sending critical issues to all the personnel quickly.
Building a custom mobile app for your business is vital in this day and age of competition. Once you are clear about what you want, it’s a good idea to approach companies such as ours that build custom apps from the ground up.