Your best mobile apps might turn into the worst ones if you neglect the security domain during the development of your app because the vulnerabilities that creep in make the apps more prone to attacks.
Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that if cybercrime were an independent country, it would become the world's third-largest economy by 2025.
In just five years, global cybercrime costs are anticipated to nearly triple from $3 trillion USD in 2015 to a startling projected total of 10.5 trillion annually due to a staggering 15 percent year-on-year growth rate.
If you are launching iOS or Android apps in Oman, it should not come as much of a shock that you need to adhere to and comply with the prevalent regulation for data protection.
This blog discusses the five ultimate security checkpoints for launching a mobile app in Oman. However, before we delve deeper, let's examine the significance of application security and Oman Data Protection Law.
Fails That Can Happen if You Build and Release an Insecure Mobile Application
Companies that fail to build and release a secure mobile application are looking at more than just the financial aftermath but also at operational inefficiencies, government intervention, and customer fallout.
Here's a brief list of other severe consequences:
An application lacking proper input/output data validation might lead the hackers to inject malicious codes on mobile devices through the applications. Injection compromises user-sensitive data, accountability, and denial of access. In worse cases, the injection can also result in a complete host takeover.
Mobile applications store and transmit data across networks, including name, address, payment details, etc. An insecure mobile application is an easy breeding ground for intentional and unintentional data leakages.
Intentional data leaks happen when hackers pierce the application and maliciously access confidential information. For instance, if your application cannot authenticate and encrypt network traffic, hackers might access it during transmission.
Unintentional data leaks happen when application developers unknowingly store sensitive information on a mobile device location, which is accessible to other device applications.
If your app is insecure and is found guilty of data leakage, you are looking at goodwill taking a nosedive. Word travels fast, and in case of data breaches, faster. The consequences include the loss of existing customers. You can still make up for the financial loss, but losing the trust and confidence of investors and potential customers makes it difficult to operate in the long run.
Penalties and Litigation
The prevalent Personal Data Protection Law PDPL in the Sultanate of Oman has a massive fine of up to OMR 500,000 (around US $1.3 million) for violation of privacy. In some cases, it may also be punished by imprisonment of up to 1 year.
Let's understand the legal requirements and compliances for businesses that handle and process personal data in Oman.
OMAN PDPL- An Overview of Data Protection Regulation and Compliances
According to the NCSI, cybercrimes in Oman for the year 2020 reached 2,292.
Until recently, the protection of personal data in Oman was not guided by a legislative document, but the framework changed significantly with the enactment of Royal Decree 6/2022 announcing the Sultante's Personal Data Protection Law- Oman PDPL. The law came into force in February 2023 and introduced strong privacy provisions and principles.
- Contact information of the Data Protection Officer (DPO)
- Name and other details of the data controller
- Description of third parties with whom the data is shared
- Reasons for processing the data
- Rights of data subjects and how to exercise them
- Any other information that may be of relevance to the data subject
Prior Permission for Processing Sensitive Data
Every business that processes sensitive personal information of the data subject, such as data related to health, biometrics, genes, racial origins, finance, religious opinions, criminal records, and personal life, must obtain a prior permit from the Ministry.
Failure to obtain the permit beforehand results in penalties from OMR 20,000 to OMR 100,000 (around US $50,000 to $260,000).
A violation of this provision of the Oman PDPL is punishable by a fine no less than OMR 15,000 (approx. €37,000) and not exceeding OMR 20,000 (approx. €49,340).
Explicit Data Consent
The opt-in principle guides the Oman PDPL, i.e., businesses can only process data if the user freely consents or has other legal bases.
The consent must be:
- Specific for each processing purpose
- Informed, i.e., the user should have prior information about the processing
- Withdrawable, i.e., the user should easily be able to withdraw the consent at any time.
Failing the same is punishable by a fine ranging from OMR 15,000 (around. €37,007) to OMR 20,000 (around. €49,342).
Businesses cannot transfer any personal data that has been processed in violation of the PDPL provisions or if it is suspected that the transfer might cause harm to the data subject. But otherwise, the controller may allow data transfer outside the borders of the Sultanate of Oman in compliance with the controls and procedures determined by the law.
Any violation is punishable by a fine ranging from OMR 100,000 (around. €246,940) to OMR 500,000 (around. €1.2 million).
In case of a data breach, The PDPL explicitly requires businesses to notify the authorities of at least the following information-
- Nature of breach
- Time and Extent of Breach
- Reason for the breach
- How the data was used
- Details of the affected individuals
- The estimated impact and probable effects
- Contact details of the data protection officer
- What measures were undertaken to investigate and amend the breach
The Most Effective Mobile App Security Checklist
Here is a checklist for developers and businesses to ensure mobile app security in Oman:
1) Develop a Hack-Proof Code
Source code plays a vital role in building mobile applications. Your source codes can contain passwords, encryption keys, APIs, etc. Hence, you must write strong code which hackers cannot exploit. Additionally, resort to source code security analysis tools to identify security flaws during development.
Other key measures include building a closed source instead of open source to prevent general access to the code and implementing a source code protection policy to avoid attacks like code tampering and reverse engineering.
2) Secure Your Database
Deploy physical security measures and encrypt your storage to defend yourself against data breaches and ransomware attacks.
You should also have separate database servers for sensitive and non-sensitive information. For example, you have an online store and maintain your website, sensitive information, and non-sensitive data on the same server.
Now, you can protect your website against cyberattacks using the host's security features. But, any attack on your website or online Platform will also give the hacker access to your database.
Additionally, set up an HTTPS server to give you an additional security layer and block all unauthorized access requests.
3) Boost Authentication
If you implement robust user authentication protocols in your mobile apps in Oman, you can mitigate unauthorized access requests and password-guessing attacks. This can be ensured by:
- Implementing strong passwords
- Implementing two-factor Authentication (2FA), wherein the user must enter the password first and then a different variable, a security key, fingerprint recognition, or a facial scan.
- Implementing a multifactor-authentication (MFA), which includes two or more factors of Authentication: knowledge (something only the user knows, like a password or a PIN), possession (something only the user has, like an OTP), and inherence (something only the user is, like fingerprint or face detection).
4) Encrypt the Data
There are two types of digital data- one in transit and the other at rest.
Every mobile application connects to some external network; hence security measures should be taken to encrypt the data during transit. Every critical piece of data, including login information, passwords, and other personal information, must be encrypted to prevent eavesdropping attacks.
Concerning the data at rest, you should ensure that sensitive data on a mobile phone should be stored in encrypted data containers, and ultra-sensitive data should not be downloaded to the end-user device.
5) Perform Periodic VAPT
Last but not least, Automated Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration testing are hands down the best techniques to protect mobile applications against hackers and ensure mobile app security in Oman.
What is Penetration Testing?
It is a process that involves security experts behaving and interacting with your application just like a potential hacker to find and mitigate unknown vulnerabilities in your application's security architecture before the hacker can exploit them.
What is Automated Vulnerability Assessment?
It is a process that involves automated testing tools, like web application scanners, network security scanners, protocol scanners, etc., identifying, classifying, and prioritizing the mobile application vulnerabilities and the risks they present.
There is a pool of pen testers and vulnerability solution providers in Oman. Read along to ascertain how to choose the best solution that suits your needs.
How to Choose the Best Pen Testers in Oman?
The global Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing market are forecasted to grow at a rate of 7.5% from USD 13.34 billion in 2019 to USD 23.56 billion in 2027.
Here are a few key points to look for while choosing a Pen Tester in Oman-
Relevant Experience and Certifications
Look for Well-qualified pen testers with relevant experience to ensure their service aligns with your business's needs.
Industry-recognized certifications, such as CEH, GWAPT, GPEN, SANS GXPN, or OSCP, ensure that the tester is proficient and knowledgeable.
Your Pen Tester will have access (even if limited) to sensitive and confidential information. Hence you would want to ensure they are trustworthy and their integrity is non-questionable. Check consumer reports, industry reviews, references, and prior clients' feedback.
Ensure your pen tester is equipped and well-versed with the latest methodologies and uses only the newest penetration testing tools.
If you choose a vendor with several pen testers, ensure they have insurance because vendors with liability insurance can cover any compromises in case of any damage or loss during testing and intrusion attempts.
Investing in pen testing is equivalent to investing in security systems. Hiring the best pen tester that fits all the above checkboxes might initially seem hefty, but the rewards are worth every penny.
How to Choose the Best Vulnerability Assessment Solution in Oman?
There are various VA solution providers in Oman. Selecting the right fit for your organization might get too overwhelming.
Hence, we have listed a few points for you to consider before choosing a VA Solution:
Vulnerabilities are scanned in real-time; since time is of the essence here, your vulnerability assessment solution should be prompt and reliable.
Breadth of Coverage
The whole point of a VA solution is to provide complete visibility into the entire environment and detect blind spots.
Look for vendors who provide-
A) Fully automated Static Tests (SAST) to integrate security into existing SDLC processes seamlessly and improve the app's time-to-market.
B) Fully automated Dynamic Tests (DAST) that use test cases to surface vulnerabilities.
C) Dynamic API Testing scans all components interacting with your server, like web servers and databases, to secure all vulnerable endpoints.
Support for Cloud Services
You must choose a VA solution that can identify the configuration issues in all tools used for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), or Software as a Service. (SaaS)
Look at the prioritization matrix of your VA solution - there should be an apt mix of manual and automated configuration. This ensures a certain degree of human control in the prioritizing process, ensuring all customer expectations are met on time.
Choose a VA with extensive reporting capabilities that detects all vulnerabilities and prepare a detailed assessment report to mitigate the same.
Your VA solution should perform vulnerability scans within the framework of relevant compliance programs in Oman.
With the above checklist at your disposal, you can easily choose a testing partner now. However, we've got your back if you want to avoid engaging in the selection process.
Promatas provides tailored solutions to elevate your IT security posture, reduce risk, and drive compliance. Their consultants serve as trusted partner in protecting your networks and assets against external threats while equipping staff with the essential tools needed for success. With services ranging from governance compliance to threat management advice, they are on your mission toward optimal cybersecurity performance every step of the way.
Given the magnitude of cyber fraud globally and the consequent unfolding of hefty financial damage, you must build and release a secure mobile application.
Furthermore, the strict penalties for non-violation of PDPL mandate that businesses prioritize app security in Oman. So, use this guideline and create apps with efficient security modules and test them frequently to ensure robust app security.