Facebook recently announced an update which enables full end-to-end encryption on its mobile messaging platform WhatsApp. End-to-end encryption technology ensures exchanges will be decipherable only by the sender and receiver, and no one else, not even the service provider.
This newest release takes place in the backdrop of the Apple/FBI battle, the latest chapter of the decades-old encryption debate between government agencies and tech firms. It means that Facebook, like Apple, doesn't want the ability to provide the feds with sensitive information about users. In this case, that means chat logs of WhatsApp users may stay private, even if Facebook is presented with a warrant or compelled to do so by a court order.
While security updates to apps like WhatsApp address many of the privacy concerns of consumers, they don't address the issues faced by companies that use their own in-house developed apps to run their business and offer services to their customers. Many of these proprietary apps continue to remain insecure and expose their user-base to the many of the threats that lurk in cyberspace, including the theft of user credentials and sensitive information.
But the situation is about to change as a new generation of ready-made encryption APIs are now becoming available to all developers.
Companies are struggling to secure their apps.
As mobile devices and apps continue to expand their share of the online market and become more ingrained in our lives, companies are rushing to develop their own apps in order to better serve their customers, improve business and increase income. One problem with this is that many of these firms are oblivious to the security challenges and processes involved in developing mobile apps, and end up building insecure apps that pose risks to their users.
A 2015 study by Ponemon institute found that many organizations neglect security when building mobile apps. Part of the problem is that security often takes a back seat to concerns about functionality or hitting release dates in a timely fashion. According to the study, an average of only 5.5 percent of mobile app development budgets are spent on security.
Additionally, you should know that the programmers who develop these apps aren't always versed in secure coding principles or the use of encryption technology, and the companies themselves are often lacking in resources necessary to seal security gaps in their apps and test them properly.
How does this impact businesses?
Over the past few years, mobile apps have expanded both in use and features, and now account for many sensitive use cases such as private messaging, electronic payment, health information transfer, the control of smart home appliances, and many more.
This amplified use of mobile apps makes it more important than ever for businesses to consider the security and privacy of the information they process and store through their apps. Not addressing security-related issues can yield disastrous results, such as the leak of sensitive data and customer-related information. Worse scenarios can include the complete compromise of users' phones and company servers through app vulnerabilities.
End-to-end encryption will be one of the major pieces of the security puzzle, because it accounts for the safety of data while being processed in the phone, while it is flying through waves and wires, and when it reaches its destination.
The problem is, most encryption technologies have historically been hard to implement and required vast know-how and experience on the developer's part. This is starting to change with the advent of new encryption kits.
New software brings encryption to all developers.
With encryption gaining traction as one of the main elements of securing mobile apps, several manufacturers are offering ready-made solutions that enable developers to integrate encryption technology into their apps without getting into the specifics and behind-the-scenes mechanics.
Tech startup Beame.io is one of the companies offering cryptography services through its software development kit (SDK), a complete package that lets developers to provide WhatsApp level security to their users through simple API calls.
Beame technology can turn a mobile device into a secured server. This is important for opening an encrypted session between connected devices without third parties being able to access any information.
Mobile apps have become an inherent part of human life, and because of that, their security must become a top priority for any company or organization hoping to run a long-lasting and successful business. Smart and simple encryption solutions are a positive step toward creating more secure apps and are crucial to adapt to the ever-growing and ever-shifting trends of the mobile market.