Categories: Developers / Mobile Apps

Mobile app developers have been watching the Cambridge Analytica fiasco unfold with raised eyebrows. Again and again we’ve heard that privacy and security are key features for mobile app users. If we want to build trust, we need to build up our security.

A study from Gemalto shows that 80% of paid app users consider security and reliability an app’s most important features. According to the study, improved security would mean greater app use. 70% of users would use digital identity documents if they knew they were safe, while 66% would perform more transactions. And 60% would okay one-time authentication to give full access to their phone.

There’s huge potential for growth here. But to tap into it we need to reassure users that their data is safe with us.

We need to educate users about security risks

Mobile app security builds trust.

Mobile app security builds trust.

Mobile app users value convenience. Just not at the risk of giving up their privacy, or bank account details. 31% of users fear losing data, while 16% worry about fraud. 20% are concerned about phishing and the hacking of bank accounts.

Mobile security is definitely on users’ minds. Yet users show relatively low fear of malware, ransomware or non-secure network attacks. These are all sophisticated, high-risk threats. As such, users need to be educated about these threats so that they can make informed decisions to avoid them.

It’s not just mobile app developers who should claim responsibility for these security vulnerabilities (although we’re the ones with the greatest reputational risk). App stores, mobile phone manufacturers and network providers should also step in to handle breaches. Removing apps, updating apps and patching exploits are all essential steps to take.

Users want to be reassured about security

Perceptions of safety are paramount for app users. Users want to see familiar safety signals to reassure them that they are in a safe app environment. Visual cues such as the “lock” icon or secure login credentials can help provide this comfort.

Study respondents also indicated that fingerprint readers, PINs and encryption played a role in app security. However, almost half disagreed. This suggests that these methods are not considered suitably secure.

Seamlessness vs security

Users want visible security markers.

Users want visible security markers.

The study results showed two preferred – and competing – approaches to security. 60% of users favored ease of use. They wanted one-time authentication that would give them access to their entire phone. 40% preferred to use a PIN or password each time they accessed an app.

Clearly we need to strike a balance between frictionless and security. Interestingly, if security could be guaranteed, the respondents were open to wide-ranging new applications. Digital identity documents, official documents and IoT home access were all on the table. 30% of respondents were willing to pay for greater security.

How mobile app developers can build trust

We need to develop secure apps with multiple layers of protection, along with visual cues that help users feel secure. Mobile app developers should build self-protecting apps that can detect and react to threats. Similarly, we should also determine log-ins and connected apps based on the audience for an app. While logging in to another social network using Facebook credentials may be fine, but logging into a bank account isn’t. Security, however, shouldn’t come at the cost of convenience – the two need to go hand in hand.

Digital threats are constantly evolving, and mobile app developers need to design responsively. Mobile is increasingly becoming a part of our lives, and we must be able to trust in our devices.

Touchtap is a digital agency specializing in mobile-first development.We can build your mobile app for you.

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