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6 minutes read

Understanding The Role Of Cyber Security When Creating Finance Apps

By Guest Author
By Guest Author
6 minutes read

Finance apps, also known as FinTech apps, offer customers a quick and economical way to use, store, and send funds over the internet. A report by Jupiter Research cites that approximately 65 percent of mobile banking customers in the UK and US make use of a finance app to access banking and financial services. The percentage will grow even higher, as customers increasingly save their financial information on their mobile devices for easier use and future transactions.

The Risk Of Unsecured FinTech Apps

Even as the number of mobile banking customers increases, the majority of mobile banking customers are extremely concerned about their data and privacy while using finance apps. This concern is justifiable, considering that finance apps possess a wealth of information about users, including SSNs, credit card numbers, phone numbers, addresses, and more. This kind of data is a goldmine for cybercriminals, as they can use it to complete identity theft, fraud, and other atrocities.

Data breaches have affected not just ordinary users. It has affected various financial service providers, including banks, credit reporting bureaus, loan providers, and payment processing companies. The most recent high-profile cyberattack targeted the credit reporting bureau Equifax, which resulted in the theft of 143 million accounts in the US.

Ways To Keep Finance Data Safe When Creating A Finance App

1. Integrate security in every step of the app usage process

To ensure a safe environment, you must integrate security in every step of the app usage process. Here are some tips on how to do so:

  • Only store crucial data

In most cases, it is usually unnecessary to keep debit and credit card numbers for payments. Not storing sensitive information on your server prevents the breach of payments database. Implementing tokenization – creating one-time codes for payments – can significantly reduce the risk of major data breaches.

  • Establish a system for organizing permissions

Your FinTech app will have features that not all users will be permitted to access. Therefore, you will need a system for setting up roles and organizing permissions. An Access Control List (ACL) is a system that you can use to list all the operations that particular users can do. An alternative model is the Role-Based Access Control (RBAC).

  • Use strong user authentication

FinTech companies shouldn’t rely on basic credentials like a username and password. Such credentials can be easily hacked or stolen. The best method for enhancing a finance app’s security is going beyond the basic authentication method and implementing a strong user authentication method, such as 2-factor authentication. An example of 2FA is the use of a one-time code via email or SMS.

  • Log any user activity

Logs are an essential component of a proper post-incident report. So, your app must log any user activity from every user at all times. These include user ID or account, the action or transaction, IP address, geo-location, and device data. You should also put in place measures to monitor all activities and freeze or block those that appear suspicious for later review. Additionally, you should integrate multi-step approval processes for large transactions and key actions.

2. Write Secure Code

Since sensitive data will be saved on the users’ devices and secured on the server, you must write secure code for your app. The following are some of the best practices for securing your finance app’s code:

  • Check for framework alerts: Put security mechanisms in place that will automatically check for flaws in code and send alerts if any flaws are detected.
  • Integrate input validation: this crucial step will block hackers from injecting malicious code into your app, by either rejecting or sanitizing the input.
  • Review data sent to external networks: This is to ensure that no sensitive information is sent to external networks.
  • Deny access to all apps functions: Only allow access to apps functions on a need-to-need basis.
  • Install an SSL certificate on site: Add a layer of protection by installing an SSL certificate on the site. You can also put measures in place that will prevent transmission of data in plain text.

3. Reinforce Infrastructural Security

There are various steps to take to ensure the best possible infrastructural security for your FinTech app. They include:

  • Ensure that routers are properly configured to protect them against internal attacks.
  • Conduct regular maintenance on application servers and operative systems.
  • Avoid installing utilities, email clients, office tools, and other services on the server unless when it’s necessary.
  • Monitor third-party components regularly.
  • Integrate mobile device management to manage a secure architecture across all registered devices.
  • Utilize AWS cloud to enable faster recovery from disaster and minimize the impact of DDoS attacks on your app.
  • Implement a Content Security Policy to protect the application or web server from cyber attacks such as data injection and Cross-Site Scripting.
  • Use HTTPS SSL Certificate to keep users’ data safe and secure.
  • Use a VPN Layer to limit access to certain pages, services, or other components of the app.
  • Hire a dedicated DevOps specialist to perform regular maintenance of the system and its components.

4. Utilize Data Encryption

Sensitive data is highly likely to be stolen when data is sent by one user to another. Data encryption allows for data to be secured in such a way that it becomes unreadable if it’s accessed by unauthorized users. Some of the safest data encryption algorithms include AES, TDES, ECC, and RSA.

5. Consider App Wrapping

App wrapping is a mobile app management strategy that allows application developers to add an extra layer of security to their apps. It involves applying security policies to custom-build business apps without any coding required. This means that it helps to safeguard business data without changing the functionality and look of the app.

As cybercriminals become more sophisticated and the costs of data breaches continue to rise, security has to be the priority for finance app developers. Given the global context of stringent cybersecurity laws, it is also crucial to consider regulations, such as the NIS2 Directive. This EU-wide cybersecurity law requires more public and private entities to implement modern security measures, including potentially implementing zero-trust in NIS2. One should be aware of these evolving standards and integrate them into the development process. The responsibility to properly safeguard their customers’ data falls squarely on their shoulders. After all, their whole reputation and survival depend on this. As an app developer, therefore, you should consider ways to mitigate the cybersecurity risks and protect and secure data stored and transmitted via your finance.

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