Improving Android Security with Encryption

While building the Android applications for a professional organization, security is a major concern, and this is so for all the right reasons. You need to consider different reasons with regards to mobile application security, one of the common aspects of which is data encryption.

For this, you need to analyze the data and see whether it really requires the time and money of using encryption. This can be best considered by assessing whether any data is present on the device for damaging you or your firm. If the data is present, you need to encrypt it. Instead of assuming that a PIN code on the device can protect it, you need to think beyond the PIN which is usually the first step towards encryption, rather than being entirely fool-proof.

After determining that data is present on the device and you don’t want to share it with unauthorized third parties, you need to ask yourself a question. Should the data be present on your device at all? Surprisingly, the sensitive data can be removed entirely from the device by offloading the complex processing to the application on the server-side. That opens up a new subject of protected communications.

Are there any options available? Android 3.0 has made it possible to encode the total disk of the Android device. It may offer some protection, but depends on whether the user has really secured their device. With device level encoding, there are other probable issues, one of them being that if a hacker breaks into the PIN code, the contents of the disk become instantly decrypted.

It is best to perform optional data encryption. Android devices are shipped with a potential encryption library which is known as the Bouncy Castle. The device library is supported by asymmetric and symmetric encryption that uses different algorithms. This is used for Java Cryptography Architecture and Java Cryptography Extension. It is relatively simple to use Java cryptography, with ample instances of usability.

Decryption and encryption can be done with the help of keys. This is often a problem, the primary one being the place of storage. If you want the application to perform decryption and encryption, it requires access to keys. The problem has been addressed by Android 4.0 through a keychain API that allows you to manage the keys securely on a PIN encrypted device. While someone will eventually break the code on the keychain, but then it has been a major step towards the right path. The specialty of the security encryption is that the keychain can be used only if a password or PIN is allowed. The PIN cannot be disabled unless the key information is deleted. You need to take a lot of issues into account while handling the mobile application security.

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