/Why Mobile App Developers Need to Prioritize User Data Privacy and Security

Why Mobile App Developers Need to Prioritize User Data Privacy and Security

The problems with data privacy and security extend beyond the obvious issues of malicious actors, hackers, and cybercriminals. The misuse of consumer data by app developers themselves also remains a problem across the mobile ecosystem. A threat that only gets worse as more people use apps for longer periods on their devices.

Developers need to prioritize user data privacy and security — both for their own sake and the projects.

The misuse of consumer data by app developers themselves remains a problem across the mobile ecosystem. A threat that only gets worse as more people use apps for longer periods on their devices.

A recent study from enterprise mobility management provider Good Technology found that not only do users around the world. They want it to be private – regardless of who owns or manages their device. The survey showed that 71 percent of respondents believe businesses should assume responsibility for protecting personally. Identifiable information whether it’s at rest or in transit. In addition, 61 percent said if they were given control over how organizations share their personal information with other parties. They would prohibit any business from being able to view, track or share data about them without their consent.

Rising Demand for Privacy

This rising consumer demand for privacy will have a major impact on app developers and the work they do. As the GDPR takes effect across Europe this month, it provides organizations with an opportunity to reassess how they secure and manage customer data on mobile devices.

The new European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires enterprises to take personal information from customers. The European Economic Area to abide by stricter security controls and data protection principles. It also establishes “privacy by design,” meaning companies must ensure user privacy is considered during every stage of development. Just something that’s bolted on down the line.

The increased requirements certainly pose challenges for app developers. But they also present opportunities to not only strengthen security processes and procedures. Within their organization but also better protect the data collected from customers. For organizations that are required to comply with GDPR’s strict controls on personally identifiable information (PII). Ensuring this data doesn’t end up in the wrong hands requires a comprehensive approach that focuses on four key areas:

  • Building Awareness
  • Developing privacy by design
  • Identifying PII Data at risk
  • Setting privacy controls

Ensuring accountability throughout the data lifecycle

The first step of this process is to establish processes for managing privacy and security awareness among staff. This will help ensure that employees adhere to policies, procedures, standards, and guidelines. Around privacy practices that are outlined in an organization’s information security management system (ISMS).

Although GDPR doesn’t require app developers to follow any particular standard or framework for setting up their ISMS. They should use the EU regulation as a starting point. GDPR mandates organizations create an internal document demonstrating how they manage personal data. Including areas such as compliance with legal obligations; organizational structures; roles and responsibilities; terms with third parties; due diligence processes for selecting and managing suppliers; data protection by design and default; collection limitations; retention limits, etc. In addition to having an ISMS in place, app developers should also have a documented privacy policy outlining how they collect, use, and protect any PII collected from customers.

The EU regulation only applies to organizations located within the European Union, but it has implications that extend beyond its borders – particularly as more businesses look to establish innovative strategies for their organizations based on digital technologies.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Although GDPR is a major step forward in ensuring people’s private data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, there are still some loopholes as far as enforcement goes. The GDPR mandates all companies ensure “appropriate technical measures” are taken when collecting customer data, but it doesn’t define what those measures should be.

Taking a multipronged approach to data privacy and security will help ensure mobile app developers protect their customers’ personal information from cybercriminals, as well as from the prying eyes of governments. In addition to following GDPR’s mandates around implementing an ISMS, having a documented privacy policy, and ensuring employees are trained on these topics, organizations should also consider investing in end-to-end encryption.

This would provide customers with an additional layer of protection to prevent hackers from intercepting data sent between their mobile phone and a server or other device. Encryption is a powerful but simple technology that can go a long way toward safeguarding PII collected via mobile phones.

Establishing an effective incident response plan the first step is establishing a culture where employees understand how customer data must be handled. This starts with clearly identifying what PII is collected by the app, where it’s located, and who has access to it.

GDPR Taking Effect

Understanding where customer data resides across the entire technology stack is no small task. Conducting a thorough risk assessment can help companies better understand exactly where their most sensitive data is at all times, including potential exposure points that should be addressed through security or privacy controls, as well as shared or third-party locations.

For most organizations, this will require developing a comprehensive inventory of all systems and applications — from cloud infrastructure to end-user devices — along with detailed architectural diagrams for each one that shows how they’re connected and how data moves between them.

An effective incident response plan requires not only knowing how to implement the proper controls but also being ready to respond immediately when new threats are discovered. Every minute the proper steps aren’t taken can lead to more data loss or even a full system breach.

But with GDPR taking effect this month and Apple’s recent announcement that it will enable device encryption on all iPhones released after 2007, now is the time for developers to put these processes in place. Not only will this help companies better protect their customers’ data, but it will also be critical if they want to avoid hefty fines for noncompliance.