Recently, concerns about data privacy and data security have been all over the news, and for a good reason. Everyone wants to share almost everything about their lives on social media, yet don’t want their data protection and information accessible in any way to those who would do wrong with it. At the same time, there are data miners, marketing hacks, and cybercriminals who will either pay dearly for or attempt to steal this information for their own benefit. Many MedTech apps or FinTech apps that make our lives easier necessarily require lots of private medical or financial data that can leave users feeling vulnerable to potential fraud, and most professionals in these fields might hesitate to utilize or recommend these apps for the same reason. It’s an ever-escalating issue, and it can hinder the download and adoption of these incredibly innovative apps…including the one you are thinking of developing now. So, what can be done about this ongoing clash between utility and security when it comes to app data and app development? Let’s take a closer look at this issue and figure out how you can develop a security and privacy app.
Data privacy in Social Network Apps
Let’s start with the basics here. In this day and age, many users that are connected to friends, family and professional contacts can tend to overshare. Recent news regarding the sale and/or access of data to professional data miners by established social networking giants have led to a mass exodus from lots of these sites many still interact with many times daily. Even on a practical level, sharing too many details about your location or status can be problematic. If you’re one of the billions that participate in social media, you should know a few things. One of the top social sites who was exposed for being loose with user data, Facebook, had multiple third-party apps and groups running wild on their platform stealing data and gathering information, and really hasn’t done too much in the way of regulating or fixing the issues. As a result, over 74% of Americans have adjusted their Facebook activity, including deletion of the app, according to this Pew Research poll.
If you’re a user, the solution is fairly obvious. Keep a sharp eye on your privacy settings, be judicious with what information you share, and exercise caution when interacting with third-party apps, quizzes and surveys. Now, if you’re a developer with hopes of any sort of social connectivity, clarity and transparency is key. Explain to your users how the privacy settings work, the possible consequences of oversharing, and the steps you’ll take to ensure to protect their data. Also, vet any third-party apps that want to work with you carefully. Even if you think it would be a fun and carefree addition, you need to ensure they won’t be problematic.
Data Security in MedTech and FinTech Apps
As someone who has an app idea, you need to be aware of all the existing regulations that are out there, as well as current user concerns that can be quantified. If you’re entering the extremely lucrative financial or health/wellness app space, realize that data security and privacy is a very serious matter. Think about the risk/reward ratio for the average user, or even any professional that would suggest the app for one of their patients or clients. Because of the highly sensitive nature of these apps, users are required to volunteer highly sensitive data about themselves, including personal medical information or access to their entire financial portfolio. Adopting one of these apps could save you time and money, and even improve your health or save your life. Big rewards, yes…so the risks of breaches or fraud need to be mitigated. Almost half of healthcare providers cite security and privacy issues as a reason they are reluctant to suggest or endorse mobile apps to their patients.. If these professionals that are well-versed in these regulations are concerned about security, then you, as a user or someone getting an app developed, should be as well.
There are multiple security measures that you should look for and identify, such as comprehensive encryption, digital signatures, and multi-layered identity authentication that a reputable app in one of these markets should include. Any great app development partner will have experts in the cybersecurity field ready to discuss the finer points. As a user, you shouldn’t be apprehensive about using one of these apps if you’re able to verify the app’s security measures, nor be put off by the few extra steps you may have to go through to use it. Make sure the language is clear and informative about how and why this information is needed.
UX and Data Security
Today’s digital consumers and users are a very demanding group. We want all the convenience and ease of mobile apps to coexist with the high levels of security and privacy that we want. User experience (UX) is crucial to an app’s existence; the most powerful and useful app won’t last long if the interaction isn’t easy and pleasant. Entire divisions in various software and development companies are devoted to this very issue (known as HCI-SEC, or Human Computer Interaction and Security), so you know that sacrificing one for the other isn’t viable. Some experts recommend approaching this issue by considering how you might recommend an app or browser to your middle-aged mother: dedication to security, clear explanations, helpful and conversational language, and simple assurances that your activity is safe. Explaining the reason a user might need to take extra steps for authentication doesn’t need to be dry and technical. An app’s personality should shine through on every step, so making it warm and personal (even humorous) is a good way to appeal to the broad user base you hope to attract.
These crucial yet often overlooked steps of user experience and app development are essential, yet ignoring them can lead to massive uninstall rates and general apprehension. When you get down to it, this is the base of digital adoption of apps that may have privacy and security concerns. Make sure you do your research and stay safe out there!
Do you have any input on how to keep users comfortable giving personal information? We’d love to hear from you on Twitter @Koombea.