Top Cryptography Techniques for Securing Your Mobile App
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. Use of Symmetric Encryption
  2. Application of Asymmetric Encryption
  3. Implementation of Hash Functions
  4. Leveraging Digital Signatures
  5. Application of Tokenization
  6. Utilizing Secure Random Number Generation
  7. Applying Certificate Pinning
  8. Adopting Secure Coding Practices
  9. Use of Hardware Security Modules
  10. Utilization of Secure User Authentication

Do you ever wonder how mobile apps keep your personal information safe? It's all thanks to a magical thing called cryptography! Today, we're going to explore some top-notch cryptography techniques that developers use to secure mobile apps. So, sit back, relax, and join us as we navigate the fascinating world of cryptography for secure mobile apps.

Use of Symmetric Encryption

Let's kick things off with Symmetric Encryption. It's a bit like a secret password between you and your mobile app. Both parties know the password, which they use to scramble and unscramble the data. It's a fast and efficient way to keep your data secure!

Here's how it works:

  • Encryption: When you send data, like a credit card number, the app uses a special key to turn your data into a jumbled mess. This process is called encryption.
  • Decryption: The app on the other end uses the same key to turn the jumbled mess back into your credit card number. This process is called decryption.

But here's something to remember: Symmetric Encryption is only as strong as the key. If someone else gets their hands on the key, they can decrypt your data. So, developers have to store and transmit the key securely. It's a bit like hiding the key to your house under the doormat — you want it to be accessible but not easily found!

So, when you're using a mobile app and you see your data being scrambled before your eyes, remember: it's all thanks to Symmetric Encryption! Not only is this one of the most common techniques in cryptography for secure mobile apps, but it's also one of the most effective.

Application of Asymmetric Encryption

Next up, let's talk about Asymmetric Encryption. Unlike Symmetric Encryption, which uses the same key to scramble and unscramble data, Asymmetric Encryption uses two different keys. One key is public and can be shared with anyone. The other key is private and kept secret.

Here's how it works:

  • Encryption: Let's say you want to send a message. You use the recipient's public key to scramble the data. This scrambled message can only be unscrambled by the recipient's private key.
  • Decryption: When the recipient gets your scrambled message, they use their private key to unscramble it. No one else can read the message because no one else has the recipient's private key.

This dance between public and private keys is what makes Asymmetric Encryption so powerful. It's like a lock and key system, where only the right key can open the lock. Plus, because the public key doesn't need to be kept secret, it's safer and easier to use than a single shared key.

One popular example of Asymmetric Encryption is Secure Socket Layer (SSL). You'll see it in action whenever you visit a website that starts with "https" — the "s" stands for secure, thanks to SSL!

So, remember: when you're using an app and you see a tiny padlock symbol, it's a sign that Asymmetric Encryption is keeping your data safe. It's a vital technique in cryptography for secure mobile apps, and it's working hard to protect your data every time you use an app.

Implementation of Hash Functions

Let's move on to Hash Functions, another powerful cryptography tool for secure mobile apps. But, what exactly is a hash function? Well, imagine you have a whole pizza. A hash function is like a pizza slicer that cuts it into pieces. Once sliced, you can't put the pizza back together again. Similarly, a hash function takes an input (like a password) and turns it into a jumbled output. The magic here is that it's a one-way street — you can't reverse the process to get the original input from the output.

Here's how it works:

  • Transformation: You enter an input into the hash function (like a password), and it spits out a jumbled string of characters. No matter how many times you put the same input into the hash function, you'll always get the same jumbled output.
  • Uniqueness: Even a tiny change to the input creates a big change in the output. So, if you change just one letter in a password, the output hash will look completely different.

Hash functions are like the secret agents of cryptography for secure mobile apps. They're perfect for storing passwords because even if a hacker gets the hashed password, they can't reverse-engineer it to find out what the original password was. Also, because every input has a unique output, two different people won't end up with the same hashed password, even if they choose the same password.

One popular hash function you've probably heard of is called SHA-256. It's used in Bitcoin mining and is famous for its high level of security.

So, next time you're creating a password on an app, remember: there's a good chance a hash function is working behind the scenes, turning your password into a jumbled mess of characters to keep it safe from prying eyes.

Leveraging Digital Signatures

Next on the list is Digital Signatures. You may be wondering, what's the big deal about digital signatures in cryptography for secure mobile apps? Let's say you're getting a letter from your friend. How do you know it's really from them and not someone pretending to be them? That's where digital signatures come in. They're like a digital version of a handwritten signature or a stamped seal.

Here's a breakdown of how it works:

  • Signing: When you send a message, you first sign it using your private key, which is like your own secret password. The signature is then attached to the message.
  • Verification: The recipient uses your public key, which is linked to your private key, to verify the signature. If the signature checks out, they know the message is truly from you and hasn't been tampered with.

Just like a real signature, a digital signature gives assurance about the authenticity of the message. It's a fundamental part of cryptography for secure mobile apps, ensuring that the data you send and receive is genuine and trustworthy.

One popular implementation of digital signatures is in Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols. These are the technologies that give us the little padlock sign — and peace of mind — when we visit a secure website.

So, remember, digital signatures are not just for VIPs or celebrities — they're for everyone who wants to keep their communication secure!

Application of Tokenization

Ever wondered how your favorite shopping app saves your card details without actually "saving" them? The secret lies in tokenization, a smart cryptography technique for secure mobile apps that turns sensitive data into unique symbols or "tokens".

Here's a simple way to understand tokenization:

  • Token Creation: When you enter your card details in an app, rather than storing the actual data, the app replaces it with a random string of symbols, aka the token. This token corresponds to your card details but looks nothing like them!
  • Token Use: The next time you make a purchase, the app uses the token instead of your actual card details. The token is then sent to the payment gateway for processing, keeping your original data safe and sound.

While tokenization may sound like something out of a spy movie, it's a common practice in mobile app security. Big names like Stripe and PayPal use tokenization to protect their users' payment information. It's a neat trick that keeps your data secure while still allowing you to enjoy the convenience of saved card details.

So, the next time you use your mobile app to shop online, remember, it's not magic, it's tokenization!

Utilizing Secure Random Number Generation

Let's talk about another technique used in cryptography for secure mobile apps: Secure Random Number Generation, or SRNG for short. It's a bit like rolling a dice, but this dice has an unimaginably huge number of sides, and every roll is perfectly random.

But why is randomness so important in app security? Well, think about a game of hide and seek. The harder your hiding spot is to guess, the safer you are. SRNG works in the same way. It generates unpredictable keys for encryption, making it really tough for hackers to find the right one.

  • Needle in the Haystack: Imagine you're a hacker. You've somehow managed to get your hands on an encrypted message, and you know it's been encrypted with a random key. Guessing the key would be like finding a needle in a haystack, right? That's the power of SRNG.
  • Unpredictability is Key: With SRNG, each new key is completely independent of the previous one. This means that even if a hacker manages to crack one key, they can't predict the next one. It's like trying to guess the next lottery numbers based on the previous draw. Good luck with that!

So, SRNG plays a vital role in making sure your mobile app is a fortress against potential attacks. It's one of those unsung heroes of mobile app security, working behind the scenes to keep your data safe and secure.

Isn't it surprising how a bit of randomness can provide such strong security? That’s the beauty of cryptography for secure mobile apps!

Applying Certificate Pinning

Let's move on to another intriguing aspect of cryptography for secure mobile apps: Certificate Pinning. You can think of Certificate Pinning like a VIP pass at a concert. It's a method that allows your app to recognize and accept only a specific certificate, just like a VIP pass allows you entry into exclusive areas.

So, what's the big idea behind Certificate Pinning? It's all about trust, really. It ensures your app communicates securely with trusted servers only, shutting the door on anyone else trying to intercept or tamper with the data.

  1. Trust, But Verify: With Certificate Pinning, your app can verify the server's identity using its certificate, ensuring that it is communicating with the right server and not an imposter. It's a bit like asking for ID at the door of a private event.
  2. Shut the Door on Unwanted Guests: By only accepting a pre-defined certificate, Certificate Pinning ensures that no one else can pretend to be the server and intercept the data. It's like having a bouncer at the door who only lets in people on the list.

Remember, the digital world isn't so different from the real one. Just as you wouldn't let a stranger into your house, your app shouldn't communicate with unverified servers. That's why Certificate Pinning is such an effective method in cryptography for secure mobile apps.

Isn't it amazing how something as simple as a digital "VIP pass" can make your app so much more secure? That's the magic of cryptography for secure mobile apps!

Adopting Secure Coding Practices

Let's now shift gears a bit and talk about something that's as fundamental as it is important: adopting secure coding practices. You might say, "I'm no developer, why should I care?" Well, even if you're not the one doing the coding, understanding the basics can make a world of difference when it comes to securing your mobile app.

Now, imagine you're building a house. Would you want to build it on shaky foundations? Of course not! The same goes for coding. Adopting secure coding practices is like laying a solid foundation for your app.

  1. Robust Defense: It's as simple as this - well-written code is less prone to errors and vulnerabilities. It's like having a sturdy lock on your front door; it makes breaking in that much harder.
  2. Prevention is Better than Cure: When it comes to cybersecurity, fixing issues after they occur can be costly and time-consuming. Secure coding practices help prevent issues from cropping up in the first place. It's much easier to install a security system than to deal with a break-in, right?

Keep in mind that secure coding isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. What works for one app might not work for another. But that's the beauty of it. It's versatile and adaptable, just like the best cryptography techniques for secure mobile apps.

So, next time you're involved in a mobile app project, don't forget the importance of secure coding practices. After all, wouldn't you want your app to be as secure as a fortress?

Use of Hardware Security Modules

Have you ever wondered where you should keep your keys to the kingdom? If we're talking about physical keys, a safe might come to mind. But in the world of app security, we have something called a Hardware Security Module (HSM).

HSMs are like high-tech safes for your cryptographic keys. They're designed to protect sensitive information and perform a range of cryptographic operations.

  1. Lock and Key: An HSM stores your cryptographic keys securely. It's like using a vault instead of a flimsy lockbox. The keys stay safe and sound, helping ensure top-notch security for your mobile app.
  2. Smooth Operator: An HSM doesn't just store your keys — it also carries out cryptographic operations. Think of it as a Swiss army knife for cryptography for secure mobile apps.

Remember, an HSM is a tool, not a magic wand. It can be incredibly effective when used correctly, but it's only part of a larger security strategy. It's like having a state-of-the-art security system — it can deter most thieves, but it won't stop someone from trying to break a window.

So, don't just rely on HSMs. Combine them with other techniques like secure coding practices, and you'll be well on your way to creating a truly secure mobile app.

Utilization of Secure User Authentication

Let's play a game, shall we? Imagine you're hosting a party. You want only your friends to enter, not complete strangers. How do you make sure of this? You recognize your friends' faces, voices, or perhaps a secret handshake. This is pretty much how secure user authentication works in mobile apps.

Secure user authentication is the bouncer of your mobile app. It checks for the right credentials before granting access. For cryptography for secure mobile apps, here are some ways to authenticate users securely:

  1. Passwords: Good old passwords! Despite being a classic, they're still one of the most common forms of user authentication. Just remember to encourage strong, unique passwords and consider adding a second layer of authentication.
  2. Biometrics: Fingerprints, facial recognition, or even voice recognition — these are ways to confirm a user's identity based on unique physical or behavioral traits. It's like having a bouncer who knows every single guest personally.
  3. Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): You've probably used this before, and for good reason. It provides an extra layer of security by requiring not one but two types of credentials. It's like asking for both a ticket and a photo ID at the door.

Remember, secure user authentication is a crucial part of cryptography for secure mobile apps. It's like the front door of your app. Make sure it's strong and secure, because it's the first thing hackers will try to break down.

And remember to keep the party going by using other encryption techniques too!

If you're eager to learn more about cryptography techniques and their importance in the digital economy, don't miss the workshop 'Crypto For Creators, Part 1: The Backbone Of The Digital Economy' by Tom Glendinning. This workshop will provide you with a deeper understanding of cryptography and its role in securing mobile apps and other digital platforms.