Mexico is a budding market for mobile apps. The total revenue generated by mobile apps is expected to surpass $2100 million by 2027 from just $1500 million in 2022. So, if you're an app developer and thinking of launching a secure mobile app in Mexico, you're making the right decision.
However, it's not as easy as you may think. Navigating Mexican data privacy regulations can be challenging, but it's critical to ensure that personal information stays secure and is not misused. The Mexican government has set forth several principles that data controllers and processors must abide by, and it's essential to understand and comply with these requirements.
Below, we have listed some of the most critical data protection regulations by the Mexican government that you need to follow. In addition, there's a complete security checklist that you can incorporate into your SDLC for launching a secure mobile app in Mexico. This will help you keep the rising mobile app frauds in check.
Why Creating a Secure Mobile App Is Important?
Not focusing enough on mobile security make your app an easy target for hackers. This leads to data breaches which in turn cause:
Misuse of Data
A data breach is an incident wherein a hacker gets unauthorized access to your system or application and uses the data in their favor. Hackers often sell business logic and customer information such as card numbers, emails, and home addresses to anonymous people on the dark web. They may also use the data as leverage against you and demand ransom.
Often data breaches are linked to monetary losses. For instance, if the card information of the consumers is stolen, hackers may drain their credit/debit card accounts. Also, if your organization is linked to a data breach, you must investigate the incident and halt your operations. And this can lead to huge monetary pressure.
Going beyond just financial damage, the aftermath of data breaches can majorly impact your company's reputation. If your app is associated with such incidents, it can shake your customers' trust in your brand. This may potentially push them towards your competitors, ultimately affecting your revenue. Protecting your data is not only a financial matter but a crucial part of maintaining customer loyalty and brand integrity.
A data breach indicates the data controller's carelessness or noncompliance to data or mobile app privacy regulations mandated by the government. Along with financial punishments and other related expenses, you may also have to go through legal proceedings, which can be devastating for your business.
Now that you know what can happen if your app is insecure let's learn about some regulations created by the Mexican government to ensure data privacy.
What are the Data Protection Regulations in Mexico?
Here are some essential data protection regulations in Mexico that app developers should know about:
- Transparency: According to Mexican law, no entity must collect or store personal data using fraudulent means.
- Data Processing: The data controller is responsible for processing sensitive or personal data.
- Limitation of Purpose: The developers or companies must process and collect data in the same way it's declared in the privacy notice. Also, the privacy notice should be certain and must clearly state what will the personal data be collected and used for. This will help avoid any confusion.
- Data Minimization: The development companies or data controllers must put in reasonable efforts to ensure only the most necessary data is collected or processed and nothing else.
- Proportionality: Only the data that is necessary and relevant in accordance with the purpose of data collection should be collected.
- Retention: Personal data should only be retained until it's completely necessary to meet the purpose of data collection. Once the purpose is served, there should be proper measures to suppress or block the data.
- Responsibility: The data controller should secure the personal information and will be held accountable if any personal information is shared with a 3rd party vendor within Mexico or abroad. To comply with this principle, the data controller needs to implement the best corporate or international best practices.
- Quality: The data you're collecting, storing, or processing should be of the highest quality standards. It means the data should be complete, accurate, and updated as and when required.
- Explicit Consent: Every data controller must obtain the explicit consent of the person whose data is being collected before it actually happens. Also, clear evidence proving the same should be maintained.
- Loyalty: Users have some expectations regarding data privacy and the usage of their personal information. So, it's an obligation for data controllers to collect and process the data, keeping user data privacy in mind.
Building a strong defense against potential cyber threats is crucial to the success of your app. Adhering to regulations is just the start - it's essential to fortify your app's natural resilience to protect it from harm. So, don't just settle for being compliant; aim to be invincible!
Ultimate Security Checklist for Launching a Mobile App in Mexico
Make the Source Code Secure
Your source code is the foundation of your application. How the app performs, what it does, and other business logics are all in the source code. Also, most of the source code is on the client side, i.e., within the app the user uses. And if a hacker gets access to the client-side app, they can access the code and use it for illicit means.
The first step towards creating a secure app should be securing your source code. And one effective way to do that is using code obfuscation. Code obfuscation tools such as Pro-guard change your method and class names to meaningless characters making it hard for hackers to understand the code and reverse engineer it. This way, you can ensure better Android or iOS app security.
Pay Attention to Communications
Yes, you need to secure the data where it's generated and where it's sent. But what about when the data is moving/traversing? If you don't secure the data in motion, you could become a victim of packet sniffing or man-in-the-middle attacks trying to intercept the data. So, make sure to secure the data both when it's at rest and in motion.
To secure communications, you can send/receive all the data via secure channels such as HTTPS, TLS, VPN tunnel, or SSL protocols. This way, even if someone manages to peak into the data, they won't be able to decrypt or decipher it.
One of the most common reasons why data breaches happen is poor authentication. Hackers perform password-guessing attacks and get unauthorized access to the apps or systems. However, you can avoid this by implementing multi-factor authentication or MFA.
Multi-factor authentication involves something a user knows, such as a PIN or a password, something a user has, such as their mobile device, and something the user is, i.e., fingerprint. Combining password authentication with one-time passwords or device IDs can make it hard for hackers to crack and gain unauthorized access.
Perform Penetration Tests and Vulnerability Assessments
In addition to regular mobile app testing, you should include pen tests and vulnerability assessment (VA) solutions in your SDLC.
Vulnerability assessment solutions are automated tools that scan your application thoroughly for potential vulnerabilities. Such solutions often create a detailed report on identified vulnerabilities and ways to mitigate them. Using VA solutions, you can check your code and also find compliance issues within minutes.
Penetration testing is another effective method for ensuring mobile app privacy. It involves a penetration tester who ethically attacks your system like a real hacker to find and exploit any possible vulnerabilities. This way, you can identify and fix vulnerabilities before a real hacker exploits them.
How to Choose the Right Pen Tester in Mexico?
To choose a suitable pen tester in Mexico, you need to consider the following factors:
- Experience: Look for a penetration tester who's previously handled multiple projects like yours. This will help them understand your project better and achieve better results than someone who's not as experienced.
- Availability: You'll get a dedicated resource if you're hiring a full-time employee. However, hiring an in-house employee can be logistically and financially stressful, so most businesses prefer hiring an outsourced employee or a freelancer. And if you plan to do that, make sure to check the availability of the resource, as freelancers often work on multiple projects simultaneously, which can be a productivity loss for your business.
- Certifications: Certifications, especially the ones that are reputed, prove that the pen tester is qualified and skilled. So, look for a penetration tester who has one or more certifications such as Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN) Certification, Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP), etc.
- Familiarity with the Latest Tools: Penetration testing involves using several tools for identifying and exploiting possible vulnerabilities. So, look for a pen tester who's familiar with the latest tools and methodologies.
- Creative: Your pen tester must think out of the box and devise creative ways to exploit the system. This helps make your app more secure.
- Cost: The cost will vary based on the type of employee you're hiring. However, it should always be something that you can afford.
How to Choose the Right Vulnerability Assessment (VA) Tool in Mexico?
To choose the Vulnerability Assessment (VA) solution in Mexico, you need to consider the following factors:
- Coverage: Ideally, your vulnerability assessment solution should be able to scan your mobile apps, servers, and even networks. Also, it should be able to perform Static Application Security Testing (SAST), Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST), and API testing. This way, you'll be able to scan your app or networks thoroughly.
- Customer support: The VA solution should have decent customer support, including online resources, documentation, and dedicated technical experts. This will help you get your queries answered on time.
- Reporting: At the end of every vulnerability assessment, the VA solution must release a comprehensive report that lists all the identified vulnerabilities. Also, the report should have detailed remediation steps for dealing with the vulnerabilities.
- Compliance: Besides scanning your mobile app bugs and loopholes, a VA solution should also look for compliance issues and provide you with the necessary remediation steps.
- Accuracy: Your vulnerability assessment should be accurate and must not report any false positives. Otherwise, it can be a huge productivity loss for you.
- Pricing: Make sure to choose an affordable VA solution with no hidden charges. However, don't hesitate to spend a little more on a quality tool.
With the above tips at your disposal, you can choose the right penetration tester and vulnerability assessment solution for your organization.
However, if you don't have the time to research, here are some of our personal favorite options that you can rely on for better app security:
The Nekt Group in Mexico is a security solution you can rely on for penetration testing. It allows you to perform automated penetration tests that include packet sniffing, password cracking, MITM, network mapping, file exfiltration, and more. You can test your mobile or web app and even get detailed remediation steps to act on and fix the issues.
Shielforce, on the other hand, is a comprehensive security solution in Mexico using which you can cater to all your mobile app's security needs. From running vulnerability, SAST, and DAST scans to conducting in-depth penetration tests, Shieldforce can help you with everything.
Developing a secure mobile app in Mexico can be challenging, but it's essential for ensuring the protection of user data and avoiding costly consequences. With dedicated resources and careful attention to data protection regulations, you can successfully launch a secure mobile app that safeguards against data breaches, reputational harm, legal troubles, and revenue loss.
By integrating our comprehensive mobile app security checklist into your SDLC, you can confidently release a secure app in Mexico that prioritizes user privacy and protection.