Data Security & Privacy In Insurance App Development

When using insurance mobile applications, a lot of highly valuable information is contained in them: medical information, account numbers, addresses, and so on. Because credit cards may be cancelled, this type of information is significantly more valuable on the black market than credit card numbers. 

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About The Author
Nitin Nijhawan, CDOicon

Consumers are increasingly turning to digital channels to do everyday jobs, purchase items, and entertain themselves. These tendencies are also evident in the insurance industry. According to J.D. Power, consumers increased their use of insurance and insurtech mobile applications by 26% year on year in 2021. 

And those who utilized mobile applications for insurance had much higher customer satisfaction scores across all measures than those who used traditional methods. 

Recent stats of data breaches in insurance sector 

• A serious data breach happened at Medibank, an Australian health insurance company, in October 2022. It all started with the theft of credentials from an administrative user. The hacked credentials were eventually sold on the dark web and used to get access to Medibank users' confidential information. As a result, 200 GB of data was taken, including the personal information of 9.7 million Medibank users


• Aflac Inc., an American insurance firm, had a data breach in January 2023 because of a vendor fault. Hackers obtained the personal information of 1.3 million cancer insurance customers in Japan. The leaked data included policyholders' names, ages, and genders, as well as the types of insurance they had. 


Almost similar with the Aflac incident, Zurich Insurance Group had a data breach involving a third-party contractor. The breach exposed the personal information of about 757,000 current and previous vehicle insurance consumers. Last names, gender, birth dates, email addresses, car makes and models, and other information may have been exchanged. 

Insurance agencies must comply with all current laws, rules, and standards to maintain cyber security and effectively secure their clients' personal information. 


In this article, we will go through the top data security best practices that insurance firms and financial services providers may use to keep their customers' data secure. 

Risks & threats to insurance apps 

Cybercriminals can have multiple methods to target mobile apps. However, most attacks fit into one of six categories. If insurers and insurtech applications can guard against these, they will have made substantial progress in protecting their apps against most threats. 

Stealing policyholder’s data 

Insurance applications retain information such as marital status, complete names, driver's license numbers, dates of birth, and, in certain cases, social security numbers. You can even come across precise car information such as a plate number or VIN. To a cybercriminal focused on fraud, all this data is gold. 


Furthermore, if URLs, tokens, passwords, and other secrets are not encrypted, fraudsters can quickly steal customer information to gain access to an insurer's essential documents. 


Location data thefts 

Geolocation data is collected by insurance and insurtech applications for multiple reasons, including monitoring policyholders' driving behavior to identify safe drivers and give savings, or to activate and deactivate coverage depending on physical location. 


Hackers can offer themselves more broad rights by jailbreaking (iOS) or rooting (Android) a smartphone, allowing them to manage the OS and access geographical information.   


Overlays & keyloggers 

Sophisticated malware can fool customers by displaying a phony or transparent screen over an insurance app, fooling them into thinking they're entering data into a trustworthy source. But that is when they are interacting with the virus. Malware may steal data, take over accounts, and do various malicious behaviors like this. 


Similarly, keyloggers attack the sensitive data as they run a malicious program in the background and track multiple entries in the app by the users. As a result, their updated and previous data entries will be overridden by these cybercriminals. 


Intercepting data from transactions 

Many insurtech apps allow policyholders to pay for coverage as needed, adding extra coverage as needed. As a result, cyberthreats on mobile applications to track payment details are growing increasingly common. If an insurer is discovered to be noncompliant with PCI, they may face steep fines and potentially lose the right to accept credit cards as payment. 


Network-related attacks 

Many mobile app development companies, including those from insurance and insurtech firms, use HTTP and TLS 1.1, which are not secure protocols. They allow hackers to conduct "man-in-the-middle" (MitM) attacks on data as it is being transferred, allowing them to steal and even modify it in the midst.  


Misuse of system tools 

There are certain applications and tools that are utilized by dedicated software developers for various purposes, such as testing, debugging and other important activities. But insurance companies can’t predict when these tools will be mishandled or misused in any unfortunate scenario. 


Hackers can map out the core logic of an insurance mobile apps and this knowledge enables them to develop complex, highly targeted, and incredibly successful attacks against both the app and the back-end services. 




They may even create trojans that deceive the user into thinking they're working with the actual thing, while the virus secretly infects other programs, steals data, and engages in other dangerous actions. 

Integrating core security features to prevent these cyberthreats will go a long way towards assuring everyone's safety and laying the groundwork for digital progress. As a result, insurers have a significant chance to increase client happiness and constantly expand using insurtech apps. 

Core features to enable data security in insurance app development. 

User access management 

Access control, often known as access management, is the most basic component of data security. As the name implies, it involves restricting access to data storage areas to as few people as feasible. Only workers who need such access to complete their duties should have access to the data, and such personnel should be carefully recruited. 


Authorization & authentication 

Proper authentication for your mobile app will prevent data breaches and information leaks from the users' end. If your app handles sensitive data — such as financial, health-related, or personally identifiable information — the login process must be secure to protect user data. For instance, face recognition, fingerprint scanning, and two-step verification through email using short-term codes. 


Data erasure 

One of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) principles is to keep sensitive user information on servers only for as long as necessary to offer services. When the necessity for this information is no longer present, the data must be deleted. Data cannot be hacked or leaked from servers if there is no data on them. 


Data encryption 

End-to-end encryption is one of the most reliable ways to secure user data in your mobile app. Without decryption keys, an unintentional data leak becomes impossible. Hacking such data will also be more difficult, especially if decryption keys are stored on user devices and are unique to each user rather than on your servers. 




Data masking 

Masking data is one method of encrypting information. Data masking is the technique of concealing characters and integers with proxy characters. It is not a perfect solution, but it protects against some unintentional or non-malicious intrusions. 


Data durability 

Just like data encryption is used in a way to prevent information leaks and security attacks, data durability ensures the prevention of data loss. If you or your users require data on a regular basis, you must maintain a backup of that data. If something happens to your primary servers, the data may be recovered from the backup. 

Insurance companies focus on maintaining the long-term relationship with their customers while securing sensitive data from breachers and threats. They need to adapt certain strategies to ensure their insurtech apps meet the highest standards of information security. 

Crucial strategies to strengthen data security in insurance app development 


Knowing possible risks 

Step one is to recognize that every employee is at risk due to acts such as accepting questionable email attachments, using infected flash drives, or failing to install critical security upgrades on their computer. 


A wise investment of valuable resources and effort in training employees about cybersecurity risks and preventative actions may protect both the organization and its human capital from potentially damaging cyberattacks. 


Considering workplace security 

It is critical to keep all network-connected devices, from laptops and printers to smart TVs, up to date with the latest security software and updates. Furthermore, thorough adherence to cybersecurity management rules and enforcement procedures is required to ensure complete protection against any cyberattacks. 


Timely backing up data 

Whether your critical data is kept on-premises or in the cloud. It is vital to prioritize its security by implementing a dependable backup and recovery solution that meets or exceeds your company's standards. In recent years, a growing number of businesses have chosen cloud management solutions such as Google Workspace, Salesforce, and Office 365. 


Nonetheless, many people are unaware that SaaS providers are primarily concerned with retrieving lost data due to system faults. These are frequently incapable of retrieving data that has been destroyed mistakenly or on purpose by users, or that has been locked by ransomware, hacking, virus, or other similar threats. 


Controlled network sharing 

Companies that manage the flow of registered data via supervised access points are better positioned to detect and isolate malware. As a result, it is critical to have policies in place to manage employee access and rights. 


When an employee leaves, it is critical to have the required controls in place to restrict their access to sensitive information about the firm, clients, and vendors. You may protect the data's confidentiality and integrity by doing so, preventing unauthorized access, alteration, or disclosure. 

Apart from these strategies, there are certain factors that also affect the security of insurance apps’ data, such as integrating 3rd party resources, vulnerable sharepoints, digital media integrations, and many more. 

To support these factors and make sure your insurtech app doesn’t suffer from any cyber threat, let’s have a look at the tips to increase mobile app data security: 

How to enhance mobile data security for your insurance business? 

Testing for app vulnerabilities 

There are methods for implementing QA and testing services to remove vulnerabilities. The main thing here is to perform it on a regular basis because: 

Hacking techniques are being implemented at a rapid pace. 

If a vulnerability is created by human mistake, developers may miss it the first time they check, but repeated testing by many specialists will ensure it is discovered. 


Carefully choose 3rd party libraries 

The large Android data breach indicated above occurred due to incorrect setting of third-party cloud services. Developers may be inclined to trust the library provider, especially if it is well-known, and ignore a misconfiguration or a coding issue. 


When utilizing third-party libraries, it is critical to thoroughly test everything because it's different as compared to developing code from scratch and it is simpler to overlook an issue. 


Implement SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates 

SSL/TLS certificates (Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security) are required to properly exchange data between your app's servers and users' devices. SSL certificates function by scrambling data, which makes decoding difficult. 


Utilize SSL pinning method 

If your mobile app deals with information that thieves are interested in (for example, a banking app), SSL pinning is suggested. 


SSL pinning is a method that can prevent the installation of MITM-issued phony certificates by blocking documents from unfamiliar sites. This is accomplished during development by pinning an SSL certificate host in your program. Only certificates from the pinned host will be regarded credible. 

With the advent of modern technologies for mobile apps, the possibilities of attacking sensitive information through digital malware programs also increases. And the above-mentioned precautions, strategies and tips can really make a significant impact for your insurance app development. 

How VLink can help you to maintain insurtech app data security? 


Insurance firms currently prioritize network and laptop security to safeguard sensitive data from the corporate office to the agent's office. With mobile technology advancing, insurers who fail to address the risks posed by advanced and persistent mobile threats remain responsible for data breaches from cyberattacks on covered clients, regardless of the entry point. 

VLink provides the most comprehensive, comprehensive, and real-time Mobile Threat Defense system for automatically identifying, reporting, and remediating today's — and tomorrow's — sophisticated mobile threats to insurance firms, agents, and insured clients. 

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