Security issues plaguing the Indian app market

Alex Suh

By Alex Suh

Mobile payment has been skyrocketing in India since last year. Considering the rapid spread of smartphones and changes in global payment trends, it seems to be a natural phenomenon. Mobile payment has already become common in advanced countries such as Korea as well as the US and China.

But mobile payment still has a big obstacle yet to be tackled effectively; the security issue. There are a lot of mobile payment services springing up, but they’re not all security assured. Even if a system has started secure, it should not only confront hacking risk striking every minute, but cope with the constantly evolving techniques of hackers and unauthorized users. Only a few with the proper technology and ability to actively defend against the attack can provide secure mobile payment services to consumers.

Over the past few years with the advent of technology, apps based on data analysis have started focusing on the prevention of unauthorized users, a problem which is currently plaguing the app market.

At the beginning of the service, a lot of apps offer rewards, which are supposed to be offered in a variety of ways to attract more users. This incentive unauthorized users looking out to misuse the system by trying to acquire rewards by using multiple SIM cards on a single device. The illegal acquisition of rewards originally intended for more users is one of the most critical factors which deteriorate service quality.

Critical issues making India vulnerable
India is vulnerable to hacking and unauthorized use due to the prevalent dual SIM and the process of rooting which removes the inherent security mechanisms.

There is a need for security processes to be more intensified in India than other countries especially because of the multi SIM phenomena which is driving the country. Instead of just carrying one SIM, many mobile users are dual SIM users. This allows them to switch between providers to capitalize on varying price, data and service offers from industry operators. But what this also does is give birth to a mobile environment which can be taken advantage of by unauthorized use .

Moreover, SIM cards are very cheap and easy to get in India because of fierce competition between telecom companies to attract more subscribers. So it gets just common for a user to have about 3 – 5 SIM cards. Under this circumstance, users can acquire illegal rewards through apps very easily by rotating multiple SIM cards on a device.

On top of that, rooting (similar to prison breaking) is popular in India, causing a lot of app hacking. It is so prevalent that such rooting facilitating apps are readily available and also feature in top ranks at Google Playstore.

There are a lot of cases of rooting in India that can be tracked. For example, if an app is offering a large reward ad and it is noticed that the views of mobile ad surged without clicking the view button of the ad, then this is a clear indication of a fraudulent activity taking place. To counter this , some apps are now opting for a referral reward system in which a person A can invite a friend B to install an app, and A and B respectively get the reward of xx rupees which can keep suspicious activities like these at bay.

Preventing Misuse at Inception
One of the key steps towards taking strong precaution to counter mobile security threats is to tackle it from the account creation stage itself. At the very beginning of the account creation, it basically limits to an initial subscription with respect to the information of a device, Android OS, and SIM card, allowing fewer chances for unfair users to create an account.

In addition, precautions can be taken to prevent app hacking in advance by raising barriers for devices in the rooting state to create an account or limiting the functions that can be used even if an account is already created. Along with all of these measures, cutting edge techniques such as network analysis and early detection of trouble using user behavior analysis can also be used to further strengthen a mobile application from being hacked.

In Korea, advancing in IT and mobile technology, payment using credit cards and mobile payment based on the technology have been popular for more than 10 years and are creating more market opportunities. The Korean mobile service and game industry have fought against unauthorized use and cheating for a long time. Taking advantage of wide range of experiences in the industry, one can take the lead to identify and impose sanctions on fraudulent users in India, which is also suffering from the same issues.

The author is general director of Data Analysis at True Balance app

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