Secure Messengers: Develop a Secure Chat for Your Mobile App - Technewsky

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Thursday, 6 September 2018

Secure Messengers: Develop a Secure Chat for Your Mobile App


Business actions are now not only passed out in a cabin or in the office. You have now options to reply to your email sitting in a coffee house, while watching a movie or even when you are chilling out on your vacations. It can be possible only with the advent of mobile apps. But the saddest part is that along with the convenience of a mobile app there is threat of your information getting targeted by hackers. Cybercrime includes costs that include damages due to loss of sensitive data, fraud and interruption in business operations.



Apps Targeted by Hackers

​So it is important to know which kinds of apps are the target points of hackers. Apps that are mostly targeted are the ones that have delicate information and which can be used against other businesses. Apps that have chance to get hacked are the ones that deal with economic transactions – ecommerce applications that are connected to banking software.

Along with enterprise and ecommerce apps – chatting apps are also vulnerable to hacking. Some of the most sensitive information is shared on chats – for example, the CEO of a company carrying out a huge assignment or carrying cash for transaction giving details of his whereabouts to his family or colleagues. If the hackers know his location and his whereabouts at a particular time, they could easily dupe and steal the information that they require.

So, how do you secure chat apps? Let’s find out.

Ensuring the Security of Messaging Apps

Messaging apps has two broad categories – enterprising messaging apps and consumer based messaging apps. Security risks for these apps include a secured integration with a payment statement, proper usage of a platform and ensuring legal regulations for healthcare or banking.
Now, let’s take a look at a few common ways of ensuring secured messaging apps.

Security of Data Storage and Data Transfer

Logically, the less data stored on the client’s side, the more secure the app. But there are instances where the app user would want to save their data. In that case, there are technical solutions that would keep that data secure. This can be done by use Realm Core. It uses OpenSSL when one supplies a 4-bit encryption key. Realm Core can be transparently encrypted and decrypted with AES-256 and can be verified with   SHA-2 HMAC hash.

For iOS two frameworks can be adopted – Realm iOS and CoreData for data protection. CoreData’s most popular local storage type is SQLite – it is an open source third-party library that provides 256-bit AES encryption. It is important to know that AES takes up a little bit of extra storage space, thereby decreasing the speed of the app.



Secure Communication Between the Client and the Server

It is important that all communication done between the client and the server is secure. Apps need to adhere to the standards set by the industry and regulatory requirements depending on the state and the industry.

For instance, a healthcare app needs to adhere to medical industry standards and should be compliant with HIPAA. The healthcare software application following HIPAA standards might have a few limitations that need to be addressed – such as disclosing certain medical information.

As we know all the information shared between a client and the server runs a risk of breach. The app developers need to make sure that they are properly set up with TLS/SSL. The app needs to have a trusted CA certificate with configured chains and attach or pin those to SSL.

End-to-End Encryption and Reinforcing Encryption

​Encrypting the data would mean that even if it is hacked, the hacker will not be able to read it. Encryption of data is done by using special algorithms to scramble data. All messaging apps have some form of encryption data. One of the biggest reasons why messaging apps make themselves vulnerable to hackers is that they use some information to target users with advertisements.

The most secure apps with chat functionality use end-to-end encryption that lets only the sender and the receiver read a message. If the company does make an app with end-to-end encryption, they can archive the data and store all the messages on the server. These messages can be decrypted and read if necessary.

To increase security, the app developers can reinforce existing encryption mechanisms. What is reinforcing encryption? – It requires applying cryptographic standards by getting acquainted with cyber security guidelines.

Bottom Line

​To conclude, some typical features that need to be used for a secure mobile chat:

A unique key should be generated for each session. This is called Session Level Security or SLS. By adopting SLS, all messages exchanged within the app can be only read by the sender and the recipient.

Every message sent has its own key.

The data stored by the user is encrypted by a separate key which is derived by the PIN entered by the user.

Offline messaging support should be supported by the app. This means that if the user is on offline mode, the messages are stored at the back-end. On switching on their network, the messages are delivered to the recipient.

​Enhancing security for apps is very important in today’s day and age. Privacy is an important aspect and the users need apps that do not disclose their personal information. Users are drifting towards apps that store very little personal information and use it sparingly for advertisements or their personal benefits.

App-Scoop app developers can help you build an app that has end-to-end encryption for maximum security of data and develop a secure chat for your mobile app.

Author’s Bio: I'm currently working as Android App Developer with TheAppsmiths. I have a great passion for building world-class products as I loves technology. In the last couple of years, I have worked with big and small clients across numerous continents. I have learned new technologies as well as mentoring and helping others to get started in their programming career. I have a keen interest in mobile App development, mobile app development outsourcing, IPAD Development, Game development, etc.


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