Developers in the mobile-first world have to build great apps or they’ll never succeed. In order to offer a full baked app, developers have to rely on integrating SDKs with their applications. Just as much as SDK's are glamorous boxes that give you easy toolkits to build great apps, they also come with a larger surface of intricate code that could possibly allow more manipulation and penetration than just a regular app. This article talks about why securing mobile SDK is prime for the success of an app based business.
As you probably already know, an SDK powers specific functions within an app, yet its stability and performance are critical to how well the app holds up. Think of an SDK as your app’s pacemaker. If the SDK stops, your app will crash.
This is why it is important to pick the best SDK to provide the features you need, preferably a battle-tested, mature one with a proven track record. Although security has been a raging concern in the mobile application security world, securing mobile SDK is often ignored and leads to all sorts of problems for app business in both the short and long run.
Here are five reasons why securing mobile SDK is so crucial to your business:
1) Because SDK Attack surface is wider than that of an app: - SDK’s are usually considered to be deployed horizontally in the application ecosystem, whereas apps are considered to be deployed vertically. What that means is a single SDK deployed across multiple apps could compromise the security of all apps associated with that particular SDK. SDK’s are usually deployed by 3rd parties in most cases, so hypothetically if a company or an app faced certain SDK security issues, it would be much harder to be able to resolve and secure that particular issue because it is not entirely in the control of the app owner.
2) Incorrect Implementation = Loss of Revenue and data – Proper implementation of an SDK is often overlooked by a lot of businesses. We’ve seen the security for tons of businesses being compromised in the past and the worst part is, the source has been almost impossible to trace back to. SDK’s usually come with pre-built functionalities that support app functions. In the case of one of the biggest payment SDK’s in India, we noticed certain grammatical errors in code allowing us to transfer money from one account to another. This bug didn’t have a limit to the amount we could transfer. Place your business and it’s financials in this scenario and imagine the world of a havoc you would be in.
3) All Apps using your SDK get vulnerable - Part of growing a business is trust and the other major step is securing that trust. When you are for example a payment SDK business, and you have 100 clients on board which you’ve worked extremely hard towards, a small functionality error could affect all 100 businesses negatively, which is a certain downward fall for your payment SDK business. In another one of India’s largest payment SDK companies, we found that a certain refund functionality was hacked which allowed hackers to buy products through different apps, which used this particular SDK. They made their payments and when the product was delivered, hackers were able to refund the money right back to themselves.
4) Security issues in SDK could break your Investments – App businesses generally prefer using small and fast SDK’s for optimal functioning of the app. While SDK providers look to make their SDK’s more app friendly, security most times takes a back seat. Companies generally spend thousands of dollars developing their apps and then go on to using certain SDK’s which might claim excellence in functionality but probably have overlooked their SDK security parameters. Imagine spending those thousands of dollars to have another SDK company ruining all that for you. It puts all your investment and your app in jeopardy. A single functionality error could result in creating money out of thin air and secretly adding it to their wallets, it could be something that allows hackers to manipulate checksum and buy products with virtually no cost and much more.
5) Building proper security standards and compliances – Enterprises these days insist on various global compliances and standard checks from all 3rd party vendors. It’s no different with SDK companies. We know that huge enterprises are where the money is at and we know that there is no compromising on trust or security of their products. Having a third party security vendor for securing mobile SDK is certainly an investment made wise, which not only saves your relationship but also ensures your wins remain wins.
All in all SDK’s as mentioned earlier make app development and usability a much easier and better job. However, when securing mobile SDK is compromised, it is not only harder to fix but also much harder to identify the source of the problem. Getting a third party to evaluate your SDK and SDK integration with apps could save your business’s relationship and reputation. So if you are going to be selling your SDK to an app business or even thinking of using an SDK from a third party, ensure securing mobile SDK sits on top of your to-do list.