Building secure digital banking applications with OutSystems

Building secure digital banking applications with OutSystems

As technology and service accessibility via digital solutions matures, so does the concern around customer data privacy and security, especially for the BFSI industry, where the lack of stringent measures result in significant financial losses for both the BFSI institution and consumers.  To mitigate these risks, FSPs need to prioritize data security, privacy, and protection, especially while developing digital banking applications. And this is where a robust, agile, and secure low-code platform like OutSystems can be of tremendous assistance to the entire banking, financial services, and insurance ecosystem.  

In this resource, our experts discuss the growing importance of secure applications in the BFSI industry and the leading OutSystems security capabilities that help in developing secure digital banking applications fast.

The growing importance of secure applications in the BFSI sector

Under the wake of aggressive digital transformation, BFSI enterprises are rapidly digitizing their banking operations which were previously managed by poorly integrated and disjointed legacy systems. Although the progress made while digitally transforming these processes is noteworthy, rapid and unplanned digitization exposes sensitive customer information such as banking details, social security numbers, and credit card information, thus providing better grounds to cybercriminals for using this data for malicious purposes. These constant threats and the rising concerns around user data privacy and security has compelled the BFSI industry to understand the importance of secure banking applications and invest in robust data governance frameworks and advanced cybersecurity technologies. Some of the primary reasons highlighting the importance of secure applications in the BFSI sector are: 

#1. Rising cloud workloads

Banks deal with vast amounts of sensitive customer data, which includes financial records, personal information, and transaction details. As this data only grows with time, banks have been increasingly moving user data to the cloud. This data migration leads to a higher risk of exposure if proper security measures are imposed. Implementing secure procedures and workflows while storing user data on the cloud  is essential to protect data from unauthorized access, breaches, and cyber-attacks. 

#2. Poorly integrated third-party systems

While the entire idea of integrating third-party tools to banking applications is to bring additional functionalities and features to the end-users, often, improper integrated external tools can have a significant negative impact on security and privacy. Data leakage and privacy violations may occur if the third-party system does not handle customer data securely. Compliance challenges arise when the third-party system fails to meet regulatory requirements. It is essential to prioritize the accuracy and consistency of data during the integration process to facilitate the generation of dependable insights and enable well-informed business decisions. 

#3. Legacy infrastructure 

Legacy systems often lack the robust security measures required to protect against cyberattacks and data breaches. They might not have modern encryption and authentication protocols in place, which leaves sensitive customer data exposed to hackers. Moreover, the absence of granular access controls make it challenging to implement privacy restrictions or protect confidential customer details. Patching or updating legacy systems can be challenging and results in increased vulnerabilities and security issues. 

#4. Difficulty meeting compliance requirements

 The BFSI sector is contingent on strict regulatory requirements and compliance standards. Organizations must adhere to regulations such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Secure applications are vital in meeting these compliance requirements, avoiding penalties, and maintaining customer trust. However, due to improper integrated systems or legacy infrastructure, BFSI enterprises fail to accomplish compliance regulations and might face regulatory penalties and legal liabilities. 

#5. Lack of real-time monitoring

Without real-time monitoring, digital banking applications are unable to actively detect or respond to security incidents or breaches. As most cyberattacks go unnoticed, it provides hackers with a free room to exploit security gaps and gain access to sensitive data. 

OutSystems capabilities to build secure banking applications 

OutSystems, a leader in high-performance low-code application development, takes security of banking apps very seriously and implements capabilities that help achieve this goal. It provides a secure runtime environment and the tools necessary to develop safe and protected applications. To achieve this, OutSystems addresses all the security concerns of the Financial Service Providers (FSP)with its following features: . 

  •  Follows OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) top 10 vulnerabilities that can be found in any mobile or web application. 
  • Provides enterprises with infrastructure security i.e., state-of-the-art-security which includes uploading of custom SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). 
  • OutSystems has established a comprehensive information security program to safeguard the privacy, accuracy, and accessibility of customer systems and data.
  • OutSystems AppShield automatically adds additional layers of security during app deployment, making your apps resilient and resistant to intrusion, tampering, and reverse engineering.
  • OutSystems Sentry is an open-source error tracking and monitoring tool specifically designed for organizations working with sensitive, core, and customer data.

6 OutSystems capabilities to build safe and secure digital banking apps

Let’s detail the OutSystems capabilities that help in keeping your banking and financial applications secure and safe: 

#1: Secure application code

OutSystems enhances the security of application code by adding an additional layer of protection with tools like OutSystems AppShield and Sentry. It utilizes secure code patterns to defend applications against potential vulnerabilities. 

OutSystems provides you with in-built security features like defense against code injection attacks and automatic protection against Cross-Site Request Forgery. It also assists in handling untrusted HTTP request data, effectively preventing reflected and stored Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities. Furthermore, it ensures that the code adheres to the specifications of Android and iOS platforms compliances. The Sanitization API offers a range of functionalities that developers can employ in complex situations to prevent code injection in HTML, JavaScript, and SQL snippets.

#2: Secure session data and authentication mechanisms

OutSystems protects applications from session fixation attacks through session control and timeout, implemented automatically.  OutSystems also considers setting a password rotation policy for banking applications. Additionally, OutSystems includes an inherent JSON deserialization mechanism that guards against tampering. It offers the significant advantage of single sign-on (SSO) functionality for modules that utilize cookies. This means that once users are authenticated in any one device, they can access other applications without needing further authentication.

#3: Role-based access control for applications and IT users

Role-based access control in OutSystems limits access to the pages of an application based on designated roles. After users are registered to utilize an application, the role-based access control guarantees that only authorized users carry out particular business functions. By utilizing visual building blocks, developers can establish permissions for roles. For example, the developer role may be restricted from deploying applications to production, whereas the operations role is allowed further. 

#4: Protection against brute force attacks

Brute force attacks use trial and error methods to hack passwords and other sensitive information. OutSystems built-in Factory Configuration is a protection mechanism that safeguards both end users and IT users from brute force attacks. This mechanism has the flexibility to define the maximum threshold for unsuccessful login attempts, leading to the user blocking from  the application. OutSystems uses Ciphered Local Storage Plugin to handle the storage of sensitive data in the device.

#5: Enforced HTTPS

OutSystems mobile apps establish secure communication with server endpoints using HTTPS, ensuring that all data transmission is encrypted. Any attempt to access these endpoints through HTTP results in a server-side error. OutSystems enables SSL to enforce HTTPS security for specific applications in a secure environment. 

#6: Application and system auditing

OutSystems offers inherent monitoring tools that effectively gather and present data of active applications. Tools like Audit System Services can examine the logs and status of a designated environment, encompassing various elements such as application logs, error records, screen requests, integration calls, business processes, and security audits.

How to transact securely via OutSystems-built digital banking applications? 

Although a digital banking application makes financial transactions easy,it raises a concern for user data security. So how can financial institutions perform secure transactions? Here are a few steps on how OutSystem helps secure financial transactions: 

Step 1: Logging in

OutSystems allows you to securely login into applications without storing your sensitive information like passwords and personal details. 

Step 2: Data sensitivity 

After logging in, OutSystems checks for data sensitivity. Data sensitivity includes credit card details, passwords, bank account information, balances, etc. If the data is sensitive, it will not be stored in a cache, but non-sensitive data will be stored in a cache with the help of a security token if required in the future. 

How security token works: Security tokens allow users to store sensitive information based on devices that generate random numbers, encrypt them, and send them to a  server with user authentication data. 

Step 3: Call APIs

After securely checking data sensitivity, you can call relevant APIs happening at the backend. Your device will act as a code generator, providing a one-time password (OTP) while transacting. These one-time passwords are generated through authenticator apps on the device or sent by SMS on your mobile phones. 

Step 4: Transact

At the time of sending money, cash withdrawal, bill payments, etc., you can securely log in to the application and transact through API-generated OTP. And that is how OutSystems allows you to transact securely. 

Explore how OCB built a secure mobile banking app with OutSystems 

Read the success story here

Leverage OutSystems capabilities for digital banking app development  with us 

To succeed in the digital world, building secure applications is essential for the BFSI sector and protecting customer data. OutSystems is a low-code platform that enables rapid application development with robust security features, making it an ideal choice for building secure applications in the BFSI ecosystem. As a trusted OutSystems partner, Ranosys has assisted several FSPs with their specific use case-driven digital banking application and can help digitize your financial operations as well. Connect with our certified low-code experts to know how OutSystems can solve your digital banking challenges. 

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