Categories
Risk Management

Common Mistakes Developers Do When Building Apps

Reading Time: 5 minutes

With the rapid rate at which new apps are popping up, it goes without saying that app development is becoming increasingly popular. Over 143 billion apps were downloaded in 2021 alone. However, not all apps garner the success their developers may have initially hoped to achieve. Many end up getting uninstalled after their first use.

The competitive market is partly to blame for this. But mistakes that occur during the application development process are to blame as well. Here, we’ll go over eight of the most common mistakes developers make so that you can avoid them and position your app for success. 

1. Skipping Over Research

After coming up with or hearing an idea for an app, many developers want to dive right into bringing the vision to life. However, rushing in without research can lead to numerous issues and wasted money. 

Successfully developing and marketing an app relies on user research. Is there a need for the app? If so, who is the target audience — what are their demographics? And what are their typical behaviors and motivations?

Competitor research is also critical. If they’re also developing an app — or if they already have one — then keeping tabs on what they’re up to will help you create something unique and appealing. 

2. Striving to Create a “Perfect” App

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to create a great app that users will love. In fact, that’s usually the point. There’s no such thing as a “perfect” app, though. Trying to create something that’s free of all flaws could lead to a never-ending development cycle. Ultimately, you may never launch it. 

That doesn’t mean you can’t strive to develop an app that continues to improve over time. One way to do this is by creating a minimum viable product or MVP. An MVP is a version of an app that only includes the essential features it needs to work. You can then release it to early adopters who can assess its functionality and performance. Their feedback allows you to create a better final product, avoid time and budget waste, and may even speed up the time to launch. 

3. Failure to Test Properly

Testing is a critical component of the software development lifecycle (SDLC). It ensures a smooth, pleasant user experience and helps developers squash “bugs” before launch. The problem is that several challenges still exist

There are several strategies for dealing with common testing challenges. Here are a few that may help:

  • Develop a solid testing process that includes how often you’ll test an app and who will do it. 
  • Consider using in-house and outsourced testing experts. 
  • Make sure you have all of the proper tools to run tests.
  • Make sure there’s ample time to devote to testing (schedule it if you have to). 

4. Creating a Poor User Experience

It’s not uncommon for developers to get so entrenched in the development process that they forget about how users will interact with an app. Unfortunately, that mistake can be costly. A poor user experience is one of the top reasons people uninstall apps. 

Several issues can impact an app’s user experience, including:

  • Slow loading speeds
  • Difficult to navigate (it takes too many clicks for users to find what they need)
  • Unnecessary log-in pages
  • Intrusive ads
  • Low-quality content
  • Boring design

An essential consideration for a good user experience? The user! Put yourself in their shoes when assessing the overall experience. The feedback you get from your MVP version can come in handy, too.  

5. Trying to Squeeze Too Many Features and Functions Into the App

Unique features and functions that serve a purpose for app users are great. Trying to squeeze in too many, however, can be detrimental. 

For one thing, the more features you add, the more expensive the project becomes. Excessive features can bog the app down, hindering its performance and ruining the user experience. The app can also become too large and require too much space on users’ phones.

When determining what features to add to an app, consider if they’re necessary first. Leave out the ones that don’t offer any value. If you start hearing a call for specific features from users, you can add and optimize them later. 

6. Building for Every Possible Platform

You might feel tempted to develop your app for every possible platform right out of the gate. After all, it’s a surefire way to attract more users.

But trying to tackle multiple platforms from the start could quickly destroy your budget. It can also be incredibly time-consuming. Instead, consider starting with one platform — basing your decision on market research — and expanding to others after your initial launch. 

That doesn’t mean you can’t develop an app for more than one platform to start. Make sure that you have a cross-platform strategy, though. For instance, you could use a single source code on a cross-platform app development tool to deploy on Android and iOS devices. 

7. Ignoring Feedback 

Feedback has come up a couple of times already. Listening to what your app users have to say is critical for building an app that they want to use. It’s about more than just listening, though. It’s also about using that feedback to improve your app with each update. Along with eliminating pain points for your users, using customer input lets them know you care. That’s one of the best ways to earn their loyalty. 

What happens if you don’t listen? User satisfaction decreases, and people start uninstalling your app in favor of something else.

8. Neglecting the Importance of Security

A recent survey found that 86% of developers don’t view security as a top priority when writing code. Half of the respondents also said they wouldn’t be able to guarantee their code to be safe from common vulnerabilities. 

Hackers don’t only attack websites. Some can reverse engineer mobile apps to inspect them while they work or capture communications between an app and server. They can also use code-based attacks to steal data, get around security checks, or compromise your app’s integrity. 

Prioritizing security is a must. One way to do this is with comprehensive mobile app protection with PreEmptive. Applying a layered approach, PreEmptive Protection uses obfuscation, encryption, tamper-proofing, and more to make your apps more difficult for potential hackers to exploit. It integrates seamlessly into your build process and requires no code changes. Best of all, it goes wherever your apps go. 


Avoid Common Mistakes for Better Apps People Love to Use

App development can be a time-intensive and sometimes frustrating process. Even the best developers make mistakes from time to time. Understanding the most common ones can help you avoid them or manage them more effectively if they do happen. 

If you’re looking for ways to make your apps more secure, PreEmptive is here to help. Visit our products page for more information about our app protection, or check out our resources to see what else we can do for you!


Categories
Risk Management

How to Avoid Breaches

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Did you know that your company’s finances, reputation and intellectual property is at stake when you’re not protected even during the development phase? Desktop (client) applications perform many critical business functions and when not protected, they are susceptible to piracy, tampering, vulnerability probing, data, and IP breaches. 

We cannot stress enough on the importance of investing in desktop application protection. Research shows that the average application received over 13,000 attacks monthly even after deployment! The same goes for app development, all of those endless nights of debugging, troubleshooting can be hacked within seconds and your sweat equity is sold to the highest bidder. Hackers have no remorse and can readily run a few lines of code to probe or gain access to your project(s). While these criminal activities are not news, cyber hacking has evolved and will continue to do so as DevSecOps also progresses. 

In order to get ahead, you must know the facts about a hacker’s business model, industry risks and the proactive measures in order to prevent breaches.

What is the Hacker’s Business Model?

If you guessed “money” as the ultimate goal of the hackers business model – then you’re right! What else would be the motivation?

In terms of “increasing revenue,” data is equivalent to currency, the more data they obtain, the more money they can get, but this is a small portion of a much larger scheme. One large attack won’t suffice, they tend to automate their tactics or use additional help. For example, a master hacker can create a clever downloadable kit for other hackers to use on a specific site, these are called “proxy” hackers, which technically multiplies the solo hacker’s work. But let’s not underestimate the master hacker, these clever kits have barriers – they allow and grant access to a single proxy hacker to store data on a database in the cloud, all while having adjacent blocking mechanisms to other proxy hackers. Even those proxy hackers cannot see each other’s data, the master hacker has the ultimate backdoor key to the cloud database. 

Time is money, and in the world of hacking “cutting cost” is essential. Let’s not be naive, there are kits for just about every kind of attack. Instead of inventing the wheel or doubling up on the work, hackers will use what others have already built. Another cost-cutting example is to utilize proxy servers. This allows attackers to temporarily store the data that is being retrieved. Last but not least, hackers love to use Remote Desktop Services (RDP) sessions or isolate a central processing unit (CPU) to maximize their attack. 

To stay on top of your security game, the best thing to do is educate yourself and your team about the behavior of hackers. Study their business model, understanding this will allow your IT department to focus their controls on the problem, rather than on the symptom. Educate your teams on how they attack. If you understand their methods, you can be proactive, applying security throughout the SDLC to give your team the power to prevent risk.

Knowing Industry Risks

Each industry has specific risks. For example; software vendors, financial service providers, telecommunications companies, industrial manufacturers and other businesses rely on applications to generate revenue, assure business continuity and contain unique intellectual property. Businesses of all types have risks associated with their divisions and recognizing all of them is a full time job. But, we can’t all afford to hire security researchers, proactive approaches are based on recognizing the key challenges and building security around them. 

If your company’s security systems aren’t up to par, then the risks of a breach are far greater, not discovering a breach costs you money, for every week a risk is in a deployed app your customer data is accessible, IP available and runtime performance at risk. 

The average annualized cost for cybercrime in the financial services industry is approximately $20 Million with the average for all industries being $13 Million. Each year technology changes and with that so do unforeseen challenges, for instance, prior to pandemic industry risks were far less than they are today with remote working. Now that sensitive data can be accessed anywhere at any given time, attacks have tripled in the past three years thus shifting each industry’s security standards. If you know your industry’s risk, you know what to look out for.

Investing in In-App Security

Allocations for security tools are crucial for all types of business when developing for their fiscal budget. According to Cisco, 50% of large enterprises (with over 10,000 employees) are spending $1 million or more annually on security, with 43% spending $250,000 to $999,999, and just 7% spending under $250,000. Larger corporations have the budgets, but it is the smaller businesses that tend to overlook or not invest in security. By not investing in any type of cyber security, this exposes each business to the core. Reputation, loss of finance and sensitive data are just a few examples of what a company will face during a breach. It is better to be safe than sorry.


PreEmptive layered approach using obfuscation, encryption, shielding, and tamper proofing, makes it very difficult for a hacker to read your source code. Our products require no changes to your source code, easily integrate with your build process, and provide passive and active protection customized to your business’ needs. For more information on how to get started, download our free trial or need further help, we encourage you to use our resources, found in our navigation bar.


Categories
Support Corner

Protecting VSTO Add-Ins

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO) have enabled .NET developers to extend the functionality of Office applications like Word, Outlook, and Excel since 2003.  VSTO Add-Ins are deployed directly to the end user’s machine and triggered when the Office application starts.  Because of this, VSTO Add-Ins can be easily decompiled and reverse engineered like other .NET applications. As many developers can attest, this is an easy access point for hackers to gain control of your applications.

Most application hardening techniques are quite cumbersome for VSTO Add-Ins.  After application hardening, the VSTO application manifest (.manifest) and deployment manifest (.vsto) must be manually created or updated using the Mage tool.  Signing of assembly and manifest files must be done separately as well. 

Protecting VSTO Add-Ins

Fortunately, protecting VSTO Add-Ins is made simple with PreEmptive’s Dotfuscator.  All we have to do is edit the project file (.csproj, .vbproj) to add tags that call Dotfuscator.

This will trigger Dotfuscator to run before packaging steps of our build, so protected binaries are automatically packaged for deployment.  This works whether we’ve created an installer or are using ClickOnce.  No additional steps are required and developers can implement it relatively easily.

Example of VSTO Add-In

A simple VSTO Add-In with Dotfuscator integration can be downloaded here.  A release build automatically generates obfuscated binaries, and double clicking the .vsto manifest installs the Word Add-In.

Although VSTO Add-Ins are being phased out in favor of the new Office Add-in, there are still several VSTO applications in production which could benefit from Dotfuscator’s simple integration. If you have questions on this or other topics you would like us to discuss in the Support Corner, please feel free to contact our Support Department


Categories
101

Top 3 Reasons to Use PreEmptive

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Cyber attacks are part of our everyday discussions and most likely will continue to be present throughout the next 12-18 months. With the rise in nation state attacks, and consistent expansion of IOT tools developers have to stay focused on the prescience of cyber threats. For those who followed our #DataPrivacyWeek on our social platforms, we explained that our personal lives are very much intertwined with our work lives, with many folks working remotely, we are more likely to be part of those data breaches we read in the news, as a side effect of network security risks. In this article we will dive into the primary reasons your team can benefit from PreEmptive to protect your applications. 

While we were focused on supply chain attacks, ransomware threats, we overlooked another but equally prominent risk – mobile app breaches. There were over 200 BILLION mobile application downloads in 2021 and that number will most likely increase as we progress through 2022. This means, if you’re a programmer developing an app or creating a program that consists of custom code, securing your work is more important than ever. Here are the top 3 reasons why you should use PreEmptive to add a security layer to your applications:

Reason 3: Protecting Your Hard Work

We understand the countless hours that go into coding, whether that was spent on debugging, creating or troubleshooting your code’s infrastructure, it takes hard work. Many developers have projects that have been in the works for lengths at a time and have firm deadlines to meet. So when a project is complete it feels like gold! We tend to concentrate on completing our projects and ensuring that functionality/usability is up to standard. But, security is often an afterthought. PreEmptive In-App security features have been helping programmers prevent, detect, and respond to attacks without breaking or slowing down your applications – giving you a peace of mind throughout development. Sure, we all want to complete our projects on time or earlier than expected, but if we treat our projects like we treat our phones by putting a lock on it, then that finish line will look even sweeter. 

Reason 2: Knowing the Functionality of Your Security

Data breaches are a hot topic, so searching for the right security platform has become even more of a priority. One of the factors when searching for the right security toolset – how does it actually work? PreEmptive has a layered approach when it comes to protecting your data. Think of it as building your perfect sandwich starting with the bread (obfuscation), adding the meat (renaming code), then the veggies – lettuce (string encryption), tomato (control flow) and more, topping it off with the condiments (active runtime checks) that monitors tampering, debugs, and more. Now that you know what’s in the perfect “security sandwich,” it’s imperative that you continue to test and secure after each build. This will allow you to have the confidence in your security application.

Reason 1: Becoming another Data Breach Statistic

Every month there is another data breach that is brought to our attention. Which makes you really think, are you choosing the right security platform? How do you know this platform is the right one? Assessing the needs of your company/organization or projects is the first step, next researching security options. Some promise to be “the leading” security platform or the “number one,” but PreEmptive has been in the biz since 1996. That’s over 20 years of securing your applications! Not only do we have the experience, we have hundreds of fortune 500 companies who use PreEmptive, Charles Schwab, FedEx, Census Bureau, Microsoft to name a few. If these companies trust our software, we guarantee that by using us, you won’t become another data breach victim.

In case you still need more information, we encourage everyone to read our case studies to find out how other companies found success in protecting their companies with PreEmptive. We hope this blog has eased your worries, but if you’re not sold try us with a FREE Trial


Categories
101

PreEmptive 101

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In this blog we’ve established a 101 – of all things PreEmptive. Our goal is to help you comprehensively understand PreEmptive and our products in basic terms. This is a great piece of content to share with your team, decision makers or that pesky finance department that won’t give you extra budget for security tools.

For those of you who are in the industry and know what we offer, we appreciate the loyalty! If you are new to the industry and are not tech savvy, but want to know a little bit more about PreEmptive, check out our 5 W’s:

Who is PreEmptive?

PreEmptive is an Idera INC software company. We have been obfuscating and protecting applications since 1996, starting with DashO for Java then expanding over the last 20 years to our full range of solutions that you see today! Our core values are: to help organizations make their applications more resilient to hacking and tampering –  to protect intellectual property, to secure sensitive data, and enhance revenue. In other words, PreEmptive is the first line of defense for your code!

What is PreEmptive?

PreEmptive is a software security solution that helps you protect and secure your apps intelligently through a layered approach. Our multi-faeceted approach is applied to the binary code to provide: obfuscation, encryption, root detection, shielding and tamper detection with the end goal of making life difficult for hackers & bots. Let’s add some definitions, what is obfuscation? Obfuscation means making something unclear or obscure – it’s like a frosted window, it obscures your vision but does not prevent functionality. With code obfuscation the goal is to conceal the underlying code that enables the application to function, while ensuring effective functionality of the application 

How is this achieved? Our layered application hardening and shielding is directly infused into your .NET, Java, Android, JavaScript and iOS applications. Which means, we do not require changes to your end user’s computer/device or network to stay fully protected– the solution does the dirty work for you, securing the app against any vulnerabilities in your projects and jumbles up the code so that hackers can’t reverse engineer your proprietary information!

  • PreEmptive not only “scrambles” your source code, but also has the right mix of protection, response and security reporting features, allowing the user to better protect their projects and defending against the ever-evolving data, IP theft, fraud, brand damage and drastic revenue loss. 
  • PreEmptive offers 4 different types of protection: Dotfuscator, DashO, JSDefender, and PreEmptive Protection for iOS. Here’s the key differences:
    • Dotfuscator provides many layers of protection for .NET users with multiple forms of obfuscation (renaming, string encryption, watermarking, active runtime checks (tamper, debug, root, and more).
    • DashO is a security plugin for Android and Java users providing layers of protection by obfuscation (renaming, string encryption, resource encryption, and more).
    • JSDefender is for teams that use Javascript, securing their applications through in-app protection and code obfuscation. This tool helps teams to prevent code from being easily visible to anyone with access to a browser.
    • PreEmptive Protection (iOS) protects all Objective-C iOS applications, reducing the risk of piracy, intellectual property theft and tampering. (Don’t worry, if you’re feeling lost, we will dive into more in depth on each product in our upcoming blogs)

When should you use PreEmptive?

If you’re a start-up company that has blossomed overnight, a freelancer with multiple clients, or a large corporation who needs to enhance their security program, that’s when PreEmptive should come into play. With fair pricing based on your project needs, PreEmptive can be applicable for many organizations.. When writing any source code without protection, you are susceptible to damage and theft, which has long term financial implications. By using any of the PreEmptive products, your team will feel at ease instantaneously, knowing your code is secure even after deployment!

Where does this work?

PreEmptive is injected into your source code, but our operational playbook includes a bottom-up evaluation of security risks, vulnerability mitigation techniques, and post deployment protection to further reduce exposure.

Why should you use PreEmptive?

PreEmptive not only offers different packages based on your needs, but it has been the leading security system for over 17 years! We test, obscure and manage your vulnerabilities directly in your code, so if you feel worried about hackers or stressed about how secure your projects are, check out your options by visiting our main page!

For more information on how to get started or need further help, we encourage you to use our resources, found in our navigation bar. We hope this blog has guided you to understand what it is we do. Be on the lookout for our upcoming 101’s! 

Categories
Press Releases

PreEmptive Product Updates

Reading Time: 3 minutes

We are pleased to announce the general availability of Dotfuscator 6.4, DashO 11.2 and JSDefender 2.4 for our customers.

PreEmptive has been hard at work on the latest releases of Dotfuscator, DashO, and JSDefender. The improvements are part of PreEmptive’s strategy to continuously support all products with regular updates and new features. Headlining some of the product updates are improvements to integration and usability, and bug fixes to help ensure we keep our customers happy!

Below are the highlights of each release with links to further information such as how to access the latest version, documentation, and changelogs. Free evaluations are always available for each product.

Dotfuscator 6.4

Dotfuscator Professional protects .NET applications from reverse-engineering and hacking, using a variety of static and dynamic code transforms and injected runtime checks. Examples include symbol renaming, control flow obfuscation, string encryption, debugger detection, and tamper detection. It integrates into the development build process and operates on the .NET Intermediate Language. Dotfuscator Professional supports .NET, including .NET Core, .NET 5, Xamarin, and Mono.

The Dotfuscator Professional 6.4.0 release improves the support for default interface implementations in .NET Core 3+. Dotfuscator can now protect applications that use .NET’s default interface implementation feature, without extra configuration steps which were required before.

Additionally, the tool now provides more granular control of managed resource renaming. Users can now disable automatic resource renaming, in cases where the application loads those resources manually from strings that cannot be statically analyzed.

This version enables authenticated proxies to communicate with the PreEmptive licensing servers, which is a requirement at many enterprise customers.

The Xamarin.Android Root Check is also updated to handle new versions of Android rooting tools. 

Product Links

DashO 11.2

DashO protects Java and Android applications from reverse-engineering and hacking, using a variety of static and dynamic code transforms and injected runtime checks. Examples include symbol renaming, control flow obfuscation, string encryption, debugger detection, and tamper detection. It integrates into the development build process and operates directly on compiled Java bytecode.

The DashO 11.2.0 release enables Include and Exclude rules to be configured via Java Annotations and Supertypes. Rules can now match classes based on the existence of methods or fields that match the criteria.
The New Project Wizard now includes settings for generating Entry Point rules based on Java annotation based criteria, including a special set of entry points for Hibernate/Java Persistence API.

Additionally, DashO now processes compiled bytecode from Java 16 (except for the record type and the Sealed Classes preview feature).

Also, Global Processing Excludes now allows for classes to never be updated by DashO.

Product Links

JSDefender 2.4

JSDefender protects JavaScript code from reverse-engineering and hacking, using a variety of static and dynamic code transforms and injected runtime checks. Examples include symbol renaming, control flow obfuscation, string encryption, browser-based “Dev Tools” detection, and tamper detection. It integrates into the development build process and operates directly on JavaScript code. JSDefender also supports other languages that “transpile” to JavaScript, such as TypeScript. JSDefender can protect JavaScript running in the browser, on servers/workstations (e.g. NodeJS based applications), and on mobile devices (e.g. React Native applications).

The JSDefender 2.4.0 release brought several changes to the protection runtime which makes the protected code of our customers much harder to reverse-engineer.

Also, it extends the Control Flow transform with an option called “injectFakeCode” that injects fake test conditions to the control flow statements to mislead and confuse the attacker.

Additionally, the release fixes some bugs in the error script parsing of the runtime checks and in the Control Flow transform.

Product Links