How to Make an App GDPR Compliant in 2022

Guide on How To Make Your Mobile App Compliant to EU’s GDPR?

The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a significant and globally influential data and privacy law.

It gives users more control over how businesses would use their personal data. Since it has implications for the security of mobile applications, the app owners must verify GDPR compliance within their apps.

However, according to a recent Gartner report, just about 50% of the EU enterprises are prepared to meet the regulation's requirements.

In this article, we'll explain GDPR and how you can make the app to comply with the new regulations. Let's start with an overview of the regulation.

What is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?

GDPR is a European Union regulation that governs how personal data is handled.

The Regulation came into effect on May 25, 2018. It is intended to protect user data storage and usage and ensure that users, rather than organizations, are in command of their data.

The GDPR is widely regarded as the most significant and comprehensive data privacy policy in 20 years, and it represents a considerable improvement over the EU's prior data protection directive.

This new regulation aims to change the way businesses in every industry handle personal data by putting consumers in charge of their own data processing. People have control over who collects their personal data, when it is collected, and how it is utilized for the first time.

After a personal data breach, organizations can no longer clean up the mess and apologize. Without oversight or simply worded disclosures, they can't acquire and use customer data. Data breaches and data privacy violations now carry harsh consequences. On day one, businesses must demonstrate that they are GDPR compliant and take steps to protect personal data.


Understanding Data Controller, Processor & Subject

We'll use a few essential definitions throughout this article to help you understand how GDPR will affect your mobile apps.

Data Controller

The entity that sets the purposes and methods for collecting and processing personal data is a Data Controller. If you own a website or mobile app, you are a Data Controller and decide what data is collected, how it is acquired, and for what purpose.

Data Processor

A data processor is an organization that processes personal information on behalf of a data controller. Third-party services that access or host your customer data, such as Analytics (Google Analytics, KISSMetrics) and Cloud Services (AWS), are examples of third-party services that link to your website or app.

Data Subject

A real person whose data is processed is referred to as a data subject. For example, a user of an app or a visitor to a website.

Main Provisions of the GDPR

If you're planning to build a GDPR-compliant mobile app from scratch or if you currently have one that needs to be GDPR-compliant, there are a few key provisions to consider.

The Right To Be Forgotten

It is a legal concept that refers to the right to be forgotten. Upon request, you must delete all data you hold on a user. Furthermore, a person can prevent their data from being published again and processed by third-party services.

Customer's Consent

With GDPR, every firm that wants to gather customer data must ask for permission. Customers should be able to provide and withdraw authorization with ease.

Data Security And Privacy

Your app should only ask for absolutely necessary information, and you should document this before releasing it. You'll need to improve your data collection method if you already have an app.

Data Protection Officers

GDPR compels major businesses to engage data protection officers, or DPOs, who will manage data protection within the organization and act as guardians of users' data.

The Right To Access Information

Users can view what information is shared with the company and inquire about how it is used. If a user requests it, a business is required to provide a digital copy of the user's personal data.

The Right To Be Informed

If a business collects data from consumers, it must notify them, obtain their consent, and explain how the data will be used.

The Right To Object

Users have the right to object to processing their data at any time. Furthermore, businesses are compelled to inform users of this directly at the start of their communication.

What Does It Mean To Be GDPR Compliant?

GDPR was designed to update and unify data privacy laws across the European Union (EU).

If an app is compliant to GDPR, it means the data protection measures were integrated in the development, thus, the resulting into a product that has data protection by design.

One of the hopes is that businesses will benefit by simplifying data legislation with GDPR – one, instead of multiple compliant regulations.

The European Commission claims that establishing a single supervisory authority for the entire EU will make business in the region more effortless and less expensive (saving up to €2.3 billion per year across Europe).

Legislators are creating a business opportunity and promoting innovation by harmonizing Europe's data protection standards.

Why Can't You Ignore GDPR?

Some people are motivated to comply with GDPR due to the legal implications, while others are more concerned with the financial and reputational impact of non-compliance.

If a data breach occurs, EU law states that playing games with user data and neglecting GDPR can result in severe fines of up to €20 million or 4% of annual sales — whichever is higher!

While GDPR for mobile applications will not necessitate any major modifications to your app, it will undoubtedly impact your business and the way you collect and handle data.

GDPR_ Data Breach

How Does GDPR Impact Mobile App Owners?

Every firm working with EU citizens' personal data is required to protect their users' data and comply with GDPR.

Mobile owners need to re-evaluate their approach to app development in order to ensure compliance with GDPR guidelines.

As a mobile app developer, you'll need to know how to collect, send, store, and manage user data. Take some time to figure out exactly how you now protect your users' data and what you can do to improve it to create a GDPR-compliant mobile app.

The regulation provides a list of general rules that should be considered when creating software. However, there is no specific step-by-step guide included in the regulation.

Impact Mobile App Owner

How to Make an App GDPR Compliant in 2022?

So, how to get your mobile app compliant with GDPR? Here's a list of GDPR developer guidelines from Appknox that will assist you in getting your mobile app GDPR compliant with ease:

1. Limit the Information You Gather From Users

Do you genuinely require all of the information you collect from your users? Perhaps there's something you don't need to provide your service. Examine your data collection procedure to see if any improvements can be made. This will most likely make the adjustment easier for you.

You need to pay special attention to GDPR compliance if your app fulfills any of the criteria below:

  1. 1. You gather email addresses, usernames, and passwords..
  2. 2. Installation IDs and analytics stats are available to you.
  3. 3. In your app, users can create their own content.
  4. 4. You utilize Google Analytics, Crashlytics, or Firebase as third-party services.
  5. 5. You collect personal information to ship things.
  6. 6. You must ensure that any third-party data storage services you employ are GDPR compliant since if they aren't, you will be held liable if something goes wrong.

Also, remember that under GDPR, users have the right to be forgotten. This means that any user data should be deleted on demand.

2. Examine How You Handle User Information

It would help if you looked into how you handle the data that users provide you with. While this information is frequently maintained in databases, it is rarely preserved in one location. You should consider the type of data you gather and the permissions you'll require from your users.

Documenting your entire data-receiving, processing, and deletion mechanism is also a good idea. In the event of an investigation, you'll be able to demonstrate that you did your best to comply with GDPR requirements.

3. Seek User Permission for Data Collection

You'll require authorization to get the data you need for app functionality. Furthermore, you must explain why you require this data and what you plan to do with it so that your app's users understand the process.

Currently, devices require users to grant such access to apps, but if your service involves anything more, your users should be allowed to opt out of sharing particular information.

4. Encrypt the Information You Receive From Users

You must ensure that even if someone has access to your data, they cannot use it. It would help if you employed the most advanced encryption algorithms, including hashing, to store user data.

Although encryption isn't a 100 percent guarantee of data security because hackers have found ways to circumvent it, storing information in plain text gives your company no protection against users' data being exposed.


5. Use Multi-Factor Authentication

A multi-factor authentication (MFA) approach to confirm that the person logging into an account is the account's legitimate owner.

A combination of an ownership factor (token, smartphone), a knowledge factor (password, log in), and an inherent factor (fingerprint or face) is referred to as multi-factor authentication. A combination of any of these two is commonly referred to as the 2FA or the two-factor authentication method.

Note that the security questions are ineffective because they frequently allude to information that a hacker can find on a potential victim's social media profile.

6. Inform and Educate Your Users on Security

Your users, as well as yourself, bear responsibility for data security. You'll need to explain how data security works, where their personal data goes, how it's processed, and what they can do to keep it safe. Normally, this is accomplished through the use of a privacy policy.

According to GDPR, app owners must provide terms and conditions to users and ensure that they understand them. These documents should also contain information about data sharing with third-party providers.

Any changes to the terms and conditions should be communicated to your users. You must also notify users within 72 hours if there is a data breach. GDPR standards ensure that businesses cannot hide the facts for months.

7. Delete the Information of Opt-Out Users

Users have the right to delete all data about them, which is one of the GDPR's main requirements. You'll need to confirm this is possible and demonstrate it to your app's users. Many companies currently treat deleted accounts as inactive, but this will no longer be possible, potentially causing problems.

8. Hire a Data Protection Officer

You must designate or hire a Data Protection Officer (DPO) if you are a large-scale corporation that records internet user behavior or stores data on criminal convictions or offenses. You won't be GDPR compliant if you don't have a DPO.

A DPO's primary responsibilities include informing and advising a corporation on data storage and security. A DPO is in charge of ensuring internal compliance and, if necessary, connecting your users with authorities.

If you're converting a website to an app, make sure to update the encryption protocols on both the website and the app.

9. Verify that Your Third-Party Dependencies are Compliant

We want to emphasize how crucial it is to double-check any third-party services you use. If your application exchanges sensitive data with third-party services, you should double-check each one. You'll be in big trouble if they're not GDPR compliant.

After double-checking your third-party services, you'll need to sign a Data Processing Agreement with them, which GDPR requires.

Why Cant ignore GDPR_Final Thoughts

Security breach incidents and large organizations collecting excessive data on users have become a significant concern for common people and governments alike. The GDPR was created to address these issues, and your application must adapt to its requirements.

While the GDPR will assist in minimizing security breaches and provide users with greater control over their data, businesses may find it challenging to implement these changes. 

However, we are confident that in the long run, it will benefit businesses since they will be able to attract users and gain loyalty by keeping honest and secure customer connections.

Take charge of your mobile app security Get started with Appknox today

Loved by companies who stay secure with Appknox

Line 5-1

Help us to improve our productivity

Appknox gives us quick, step-by-step framework to resolve vulnerabilities. We've been effectively managing the security assessment of our entire mobile app ecosystem regardless of number of apps we ship ; it takes us as little as 45 minutes. Add to that the dynamic, modern UI and real-time DAST, Appknox has been a delight to deploy, manage and run.

Taryar W

Senior Security Researcher

Singapore Airlines


Process in Vulnerability Management

Implementing a vulnerability management process in place is all about managing and mitigating risk. This guide on vulnerability management starts with the basics and introduces you to the step by step approach, roles and responsibilities and the best practices that must be followed