Think security from day one, when designing a digital application.

Think security from day one, when designing a digital application.Cybergate your cybersecurity partner

Think security from day one, when designing a digital application.

Protect your web or mobile application without impacting user experience

An overkill of security checks in a web or mobile application, can deter the adoption and use of such an app. There needs to be a fine line where security protection and user experience (UX) meet. Balance is key.

Tips to achieve a secure and frictionless UX in your app

You want your user base to trust the app and enjoy using it on a regular basis. Following are top tips to keep in mind when working on a mobile or web application:-

  • Get your UX and security teams to work together from the very beginning.
  • Test your application frequently.
  • Make use of single-sign on (SSO)
  • Offer social logins

Always strive to tick these two boxes: do not implement features that can compromise data security and do not overdo it with security measures that impair usability.

User experience and security can be complementary

There is no hard and fast rule, as to how to go about the trade-off between user experience and security. Be aware of the latest and most common cyber threats. These can be dangerous. If your app has vulnerabilities it will still be abandoned by users as it poses a risk to their data.

Product design teams are to involve cyber security experts and the CISO of the organisation throughout the product development lifecycle from the initial solution architecture meetings, through to go-live. Functional requirements need to encapsulate security measures. Design teams need to make the user journeys delightful without cutting corners when it comes to security features.

It is advisable to have product teams, irrespective of the roles, to carry out cyber awareness training – to be fully conversant with the latest security threats, trends and risks.

Best Practice: Instil security through design

Organisations are to place both user experience and security at the top of their priority-list. One should never be at the expense of the other. End users and clients are increasingly becoming aware of digital security. Data and security breaches are in the news on a daily basis, and nation-wide information campaigns are educating the public. Regulations such as GDPR also push companies to comply and adhere to the regulations by creating apps that are secure and private by design.

User experience is what makes conversion rates higher and the app competitive in an ever-increasingly competitive market. User-centricity is a way to go about designing cutting edge applications. Design needs to guide the user to a secure experience. Workarounds should be ‘blocked’ by the design of the apps. If workarounds or improper user behaviour is not negated; than this can lead to harmful situations.

In the following section, we’ll touch upon the main security requirements when crafting the user experience of a web or mobile application.

  • Use multi-factor authentication – using password dictionaries gives way to brute force attacks which can end up devastating.
  • Detect anomalies and notify users of such. In cases such as signing in from a different device. Log user activity – and give end users the opportunity to view the log or history.
  • Roll out updates, patches and upgrades to fix and/or harden any weakness there might be, say due to a newer version of a browser or operating system.
  • Include information about best practices and how to use the application. Use highly engaging media such as infographic videos.
  • Give users the ability to log out remote sessions. This is of utmost importance, for users who lose their device or when they notice unusual and strange activity on their account.
  • Use trusted third party authentication apps / providers like single-sign on solutions. The recommended ones are: Apple, Microsoft and Google’s authentication apps.

Adequate budgets

The third factor when planning an app is the investment element. Organisations that do not invest enough should expect bad security or user experience… or both! Having top notch security and user experience is worth the investment. The success of your app or platform depends on these two crucial factors. They mutually reinforce each other.

Ongoing vulnerability assessments and penetration tests need to be budgeted for. Roping in an external professional security consulting firm is beneficial, thus highly recommended.

As a final word, it is of paramount importance that businesses pin down security-related functional (and regulatory) requirements before a digital product goes into production. Experience shows that the best applications are built with security as a prime consideration from the get-go.

If you are working on a project which requires an experienced security partner, reach out to us.

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    francesco mifsud cybergate your cyber security partner
    Francesco Mifsud
    [email protected]

    I live and breathe cyber security and everything else in the discipline. With around a decade of experience in the industry I have had the opportunity to develop skills in penetration testing, cloud security, reverse engineering & exploit development, application security engineering, management and organisation-wide cyber security strategy. I hold a well-rounded set of security certifications such as OSCP, eWPTX and CISSP and have delivered training & workshops at some of the most prestigious hacking conferences such as DEF CON, BRU CON, BSides London and BSides Manchester.