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Best Guide to Securing Your Mobile Apps with SSL Certificates

— April 6, 2021

You cannot afford to ignore two things when designing your app: the code signing certificate and the SSL certificate.

For a long time, SSL certificates have been known for providing security to websites. The fact that app developers can secure mobile apps with SSL certificates has completely been ignored. SSL was not built for websites alone. It is an all-around security protocol that also ensures mobile applications’ safety. In this article, we will explore the significance of SSL certificates in mobile apps’ security. 

The Traditional Use of SSL

Most internet users rely on the reliability and security offered by the HTTPS protocol when visiting websites. HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP. The SSL certificate is what makes HTTPS secure. 

The primary purpose of SSL was to enable internet users to communicate sensitive data over the internet securely. Its development was a significant milestone that has propelled the web’s growth and development. Its purpose has evolved since its development. The SSL certificate is now being used to secure many aspects of what we have as the internet, including information exchanges, data transfers, password security, software downloads, and website authentication. 

It gives website visitors assurance that all the data exchanges they make are in safe hands and encrypted from cybercriminals’ peering eyes and cyber threats such as Man In The Middle Attacks. SSL ensures that information is encrypted and can only be decrypted by the intended recipient, who holds the right key. Encryption turns data into an unreadable format. It will be of no use for a hacker to try and access such kind of information. 

Businesses usually use the Secure Socket Layer certificate to provide a secure business environment for their users. Users do not have to worry whenever they share their sensitive information with the business website. By sensitive details, I mean the information that is so critical and confidential to the users. Such information includes credit and debit card details, health records, personal information, and financial information. 

The presence of an SSL certificate will enable your web visitors to trust your website, thereby confidently engaging in critical business transactions. The SSL certificate helps increase conversion rates, boost sales, and increase revenues.

Legislation Aims to Crack Down on Data Security Breaches
Photo by Nikita Kachanovsky on Unsplash

Apart from trust and security reasons, the SSL certificate has also been a key player in Search Engine Optimization. The availability of an SSL certificate on a website will boost your ranks in the search engine results pages, thereby helping you beat your competitors. If you are running a website without an SSL certificate, perhaps it is about time you started thinking about acquiring one. It is for the good of you and your business. 

Using SSL to Secure Internet Traffic for Mobile Apps

Technology is speedily evolving, and mobile devices are getting smarter and smarter. Today, the number of mobile device usage has increased significantly. Technological advancements have enabled mobile devices to incorporate more computing capabilities and features into their processes. We have also witnessed improvements in the internet and network connectivity. Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, and most recently 5G networks have all contributed to mobile devices’ dominance and the eruption of what is popularly referred to as smartphones. 

The increase in smartphone usage has presented marketers and business owners worldwide with a rare opportunity to reach out to new markets by optimizing mobile applications. No wonder we have witnessed a spectacular growth in the number of mobile applications.

Although mobile apps do not rely much on the internet to get to the user interface, as is the case for browser-based HTML pages, most mobile applications have dynamic components that require them to communicate with servers. Well, this is the exception of a few simple applications such as calculators and low-end mobile games. They need to communicate with the back-end servers to fetch information required to operate the application, such as logins and authentication details. 

Because such communication will happen over the internet, there are associated threats such as man-in-the-middle attacks. Like websites, mobile applications should also ensure that the communication between users and servers is secure. The data being exchanged between the app user and the servers should be encrypted to prevent unauthorized people from accessing it during its transmission. Just like in websites, the Secure Socket Layer comes in to play the encryption role. 

All marketers and business owners who have mobile applications should ensure that they install the SSL certificate on their back-end servers. They should not just stop at that but should go a step further to provide the following on their mobile application:

  1. Certificate Validation

The trick here is to ensure that your mobile application fully validates the Secure Socket Layer that the back-end server has presented to you. The SSL certificate should be in the company of signatures from a trusted Certificate Authority. With certificate validation, you do not have to reinvent the wheel. Mobile application development platforms like Android and IOS will provide their users with a standard way of validating the SSL certificate. 

  1. Hostname Validation

Before the app goes into any form of data exchange or transaction, you should ensure that the SSL certificate’s hostname matches that of the host with which the application wants to communicate. Again, you do not have to reinvent the wheel. Standard application development libraries provided by mobile application development platforms can help with that.

  1. Using a Code Signing Certificate

Nothing gives your customers the courage to download your app, like the sense of safety they feel when doing so. No one would be willing to download an application that could be vulnerable to cyber breaches. Hackers have created fake apps versions that unsuspecting users can easily download, thinking they are real ones. 

When they download such an application, they will be inviting cyber threats such as malware attacks. Such an occurrence can be harmful to the users’ data and could also damage your clients’ trust in you. 

The Code Signing Certificate is the ideal solution to this problem. Its primary role is to assure developers and users that since it was signed, the code has not been corrupted or tampered with in any way. In establishing this, your customers will confidently download your app without any worries. Ensure that the code signing certificate signs all codes before distributing them to your customers. 

The Role of SSL Certificate in Mobile Applications

SSL certificates are now more popular than ever before. Almost all websites are using the HTTPS protocol. However, SSL certificates’ prevalence has not been so much evident in mobile applications. Is it because the mobile apps do not show indicators such as a padlock symbol or the HTTPS status?

The fact remains. SSL certificate is needed to secure the mobile app environment. As an app owner, you should have an SSL certificate to ensure your mobile application’s safety. Mobile applications deal with colossal amounts of sensitive information that attract cyber attackers. You need SSL encryption to keep the cybercriminals at bay. The certificate is an impassable armor that protects mobile apps from the possibility of data breaches. 

A certificate is an essential tool for those apps with a payment gateway. By encrypting the communication, the certification ensures that bank details and credit card details are safe. By having the certificate, you will be able to elevate buyers’ confidence which has an ultimately positive impact on increasing your revenues and strengthening your reputation. 

Summing Up

If you are a business owner and do not have a mobile app, perhaps it is about time you started thinking in that direction. Interactive and fully functional apps can go a long way in reaching out to new customers and increasing your revenues in return. You cannot afford to ignore two things when designing your app: the code signing certificate and the SSL certificate. The two play a significant role in ensuring your users’ data is safe and instilling trust and confidence in your users.

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