Super Apps helped in 2021 companies like Spotify, Uber and Amazon to generate billions of euros in revenue. But is it all a fairytale? Are Super Apps an opportunity or a threat for your business? Let’s find out…
The Rise of Super Apps
Smartphone users have apps for virtually everything. For instance, figure out any activity that you want to address and you find there is an app in Apple Store or Google Store to facilitate it. But, installing separate applications for mobile banking, e-commerce, food delivery, electronic payment, is becoming obsolete. Users can attest to the increasingly flourishing trend for “super applications” forecasted to double by 2022. But, what exactly is a super app?
Mihal “Mike” Lazaridis, the founder of Blackberry Limited, used the term “Super Apps” in his keynote address back at the 2010’s Mobile World Congress. He described Super Apps as tools that could coalesce with other applications to offer multi-functionality from one platform.
A decade later, various Super Apps have been unveiled ranging from social network apps to FinTech apps such as Uber, WeChat, Airbnb, Paytm, Alipay, Rappi, Grab, Line, and Careem among others.
The number of users of these Super Apps have increased tremendously since their inception. For example, the statistics shown in figure 1 below indicates how the number of WeChat users have grown from 2.8 million to 1.2 billion in the last ten years.
Figure 1. Growth of WeChat users from 2011 to 2020 (sourced from tapadoo.com)
Today, there is an over-reliance on business applications and businesses are deploying suites of applications in a bid to address myriads of business cases related to the fast-moving and digital-oriented marketplace. Nevertheless, as several functions/applications merge into one tool, security challenges arise, some of which we will comment on in this article.
7 Challenges to Keep Your Super Apps Protected
Malware attacks targeting mobile devices are on the rise and this poses potential cyber security risks on super apps. These attacks are often meant to mine sensitive data from the users, expose APIs, and misconfigure security settings among other criminal activities. Some of the most common challenges to keeping your super apps protected include:
1. Performance problems
Apart from developing sturdy apps and offering a great customer experience, some developers are faced with the challenge of ensuring outstanding app performance. The problem encompasses operating the application without bugs and crashes while consuming little space of the device’s storage without adversely affecting battery life. A great app should ensure that it performs properly on all available devices.
2. A new gateway to cybercriminals
T-Mobile, which boasts over 100 million customers confirmed that data of close 7.8 million customers was taken in a data breach. These involved customers’ names, driver’s license and social security numbers. Fintech-based super apps are mostly founded on a lightweight easy-to-use approach. They are aimed at making both operational and functionality frictionless as mandated by the industry norms. Besides, customers trust them with their money and personal data and believe that all the services engraved under the institution’s super app are protected and secure. Therefore, it’s extremely challenging to separate user experience from trade security.
3.The porous defense system of super apps
Technically the features and information gathered and leveraged by super apps surpasses individual apps. The coder of the super application may lack absolute control over how the multiple “other” functions in these apps behave such as money transfer, mobile payment, deals, private data exchange, transaction information and customer behavior. Therefore hackers may exploit the vulnerability occurring at the joints of the services and where the services are linked to the cloud.
4. Applying a single consistent security approach within a diversified super app
In the rush to integrate multiple functions and services into a super app, programmers and security pundits may lack ample time or expertise to feature only those elements that comply with their security model. In simple terms, it’s incredibly difficult to secure super apps using a single security model as developers and security experts are tasked with managing sophisticated compatibility matrices by matching protection solutions with source codes and third-party elements within the app.
Read our SuperApp Case Study here.
5. Super App users have much to do
Super apps running on malware-infected devices, jailbroken devices, or old operating systems without the latest security patches are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Besides, code scanning service providers often indicate that super app elements may not necessarily be adequately obfuscated and this exposes the entire app to bad actors. Other super apps are not tamper-resistant or are predisposed to root hiding and jailbreak bypassing. This gives the user additional work of keeping their devices protected by installing reputable anti-malware applications, and/or running their application on the latest operating system with updated security patches.
6. Invalid Traffic (IVT) and account takeovers (ATOs)
These occur in the event hackers learn the users’ mobile applications or program functions. They craft attacks like clones and Trojans to execute anything malicious such as Invalid Traffic (IVT) from malign bots as well as account takeovers (ATOs). More importantly, super apps have way more extensions of attack compared with standalone apps. A bad actor needs only to affix itself to one part of the super app, and then interfere, collect information, or even attack that particular section of the app.
7. Offering protection to important service domains within super apps
Securing login endpoints to make sure that all the connection attempts emanate from authentic hosts/servers is vital in running super apps. Also, it’s important to include additional network-based security to the metric to meteorite the security posture. However, network cybersecurity solutions affect the functionality of the app and often can only handle a single endpoint at a go. This is challenging especially when the user wants to create a cyber-secure system for their super app.
SuperApp protection and prevention by Build38
Super Apps provide coherence and seamlessness through a fabulously personalised and prolific experience for users and services alike. They help build a partnership that enables them to enlarge their share.
Nevertheless, these platforms should be secured with agile protection, antimalware and anti-fraud security solutions. Protect your apps on the client-side with modern technologies like mobile shielding and runtime protection with Build38’s solution.