Using Continuous Integration to Build More Secure Apps

If you’re reading this, then the chances are you are online. That being the case you can hardly have failed to see the news around the Ashley Madison hack. It may not seem on the surface to be the biggest hack of all time, but it is likely to be a watershed moment. This is a far-reaching hack with consequences for businesses and many people’s lives as well. Ashley Madison is now synonymous with Internet security and the breach of user’s data. Hacking has once again entered the public spotlight.

The Internet can be a scary place. If it’s not the NSA, GCHQ, North Korea (allegedly) or Anonymous hacking you then it could be a smaller team of experts with their own moral code to follow. Protecting your business and apps from hacks is now more important — and more difficult — than ever. Consequently, app developers need to put security at the front and center of the development process.

How can we best address security concerns? The safest and most extreme answer would be to not have an app or online presence at all. However, although great for your customer’s privacy, this is not feasible for your company’s growth. The other option then would be to build an app for your users, but it will need to be highly secure. Not having an app can be very damaging to an enterprise. Not having a secure app is even worse.

One of the best ways to ensure that an app is secure and easy to use is with continuous integration. By constantly testing, fixing, and retesting, app developers can ensure that an app is user-ready before it is ever launched in an app store. Making sure that both the front end and the back end of an app are secure is crucial, but without a continuous integration methodology in place, the user experience can be harmed while focusing on security concerns.

The need for high-level security is nowhere more obvious than in banking and finance. In an industry that handles people’s money, making sure an app is secure and difficult to hack is vital. This helps maintain a good user experience and helps prevent embarrassing hacks such as Ashley Madison or the Sony hack.

As we transition to the age of wearable technology and kick off the next evolution of the app, user security will be just as important. This is especially true with the developments seen in watchOS 2, which allows apps to be natively run on an Apple Watch. With the development of new wearable devices and apps, continuous integration will once again help ensure everything runs smoothly.

Ashley Madison is not the first nor will it be the last high profile hack. Hackers are constantly improving their skills and abilities, so online security cannot be taken for granted. In the fight for better, more secure apps, development methodologies like continuous integration can play a big part. Ashley Madison is a warning to all — it’s time to take security seriously.

Visit InfoStretch at the Jenkins User Conference U.S. West on September 2-3 in Santa Clara, CA — or at the Selenium Conference on September 8-10 in Portland, OR — to learn more about how we work with continuous integration to make mobile apps more secure.

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