Do you remember the movie “Rise of the Planet of Apes?” Actually, you do not have to because this is about the “rise of the planet of apps” and not apes as in the movie. Did you mumble something about that being a terrible pun? I get it, I am not so good at puns, and we are not here to talk about puns. We are going to try and put on a serious face like that of Sandor Clegane (the hound) in Game of Thrones and focus on UX design cyber application security.
Please take note that this article is not just for app and web developers. It is an article that any curious web visitor who has their security and user experience at heart should care to stick around a little longer to learn more on the equipoise of cybersecurity and UX design. For developers- I am particularly aware of how punitive the world is for you guys. The thousands of code lines, several cups of coffee, sleepless nights, never-ending bugs and fixes, and crazy client demands that should be met within deadly deadlines, all in an attempt to create a cyber-secure and user-friendly product. Does that ring a bell? I am sure it does.
But even with the extreme effort that goes into the mobile and web application products while trying to find a balance between application security and user experience design, it is still exasperating to notice more application security flaws in UX design, especially in the later stages of the development cycle. If this has ever happened to you, worry no more. This article has come to redeem you from the yoke of such flaws. What we will do is we will discuss the most common application security flaws in UX and point out the best ways to address the flaws. It does not matter what your app development project is. Whether mobile or web application, you will find this guide a worthy companion, anywhere and anytime.
I once read something about order somewhere (I wish I could recall where). That order is the sanity of the mind, the peace of the city, and the backbone that defines excellent writing. Whereas the last bit is the making of my own creation, a good piece of writing should indeed be orderly. So in this article, we won’t just throw words- UX design here, cybersecurity there. Rather we will adopt a more orderly approach to addressing all the relevant issues. We will look at application security and UX design, find the balance between the two concepts and finalize by addressing the application security flaws in UX design. Let us discuss about UX design and application security.
Application security refers to the aspect of creating and integrating security features in an application to protect it from security vulnerabilities such as resource modifications and unauthorized entry. In today’s age and era, nothing is unhackable. From the words of Aniekee Tochukwu Ezekiel, “Time is what determines security. With enough time, nothing is unhackable.”
Hackers have been running riot, and they seem to have no plans to stop. They have stolen hundreds of thousands of data. Also, they have destroyed reputations and brands that have taken years to be built, leaving most companies on their knees. With such heavy costs of cyber attacks, you are left with no choice but to invest in UX design cyber security. Here are some statistics and figures that tell you how important the issue of cybersecurity is;
- In February 2020 alone, the average web app was attacked 20,000 times. This is according to the Contrast Labs Application Security Intelligence Report.
- According to RiskBased Security research, data breaches exposed 36 billion records in the first three quarters of 2020.
How you can protect your application from cybersecurity threats is a topic we will address soon in our subsequent blog posts. For now, let us shift our attention to UX design.
By the nature of the term, UX is usually followed by the word “design.” And those who work in the field of UX design are known as UX designers. Does that imply that UX designers can design user experience? A big NO. The thing is, whereas people ignore UX designers that ignore people, UX designers cannot design user experience for the people (read that again). User experience is all about the user’s impression of the product. What UX designers can do is to create conditions that are better placed to result in better impressions. So, we could say that UX designers are the people who design for user experience.
A distinguished user experience (UX) is one of the top reasons customers prefer some applications over others. A good UX design could therefore make you stand ahead of your competitors. And this explains why you need to be well-acquainted with UX design tricks and tips. It does not matter the price of your product. If the UX is good, customers will be willing to buy your products at any cost. According to a research report dubbed The Trillion Dollar UX Problem, 88% of website visitors have vowed not to return to a website with a poor user experience.
The sense of balance among UX design and application security
Are your web visitors reluctant to browse through your website or share sensitive data such as passwords and banking information? There is one precise solution to this problem. The level of trust your web visitors will have for your website will vary depending on several factors. Security is the top-most issue of concern that determines visitors’ browsing experience. Visitors who do not have trust in your application security will browse with more caution and less confidence. The lack of UX design cyber security can totally impair their browsing experience.
Imagine these two scenarios- in one scenario, a user is allowed to access an application without requiring to insert a password or any other form of authentication. In the second, the application requires a user to authenticate their identity using CAPTCHA codes. Which one is more pleasant from a user’s perspective? You said the first one, and you are right. Even though accessing a web application without authentication is beneficial from a user experience perspective, it lacks proper security. Conversely, the second scenario is very secure but is not a good fit for user experience. You now realize what a conundrum UX and application security bring to the table, don’t you?
Human-computer interaction and security
Human-Computer Interaction and Security, or simply HCI-SEC, is a subject that has attracted significant research and study. It seeks to address the link between user experience and computer security. IT experts, designers, and developers must understand that whereas they ought to direct utmost precedence to application security, they should never ignore the aspect of user experience. They should ensure that proper security infrastructure is in place and that users do not feel discomfort when adopting the said security measures. We must achieve a state of equilibrium for the two aspects to operate flawlessly and in tandem.
SSL certificate: A perfect web app security for UX design
The SSL certificate is one perfect tool for achieving the equilibrium between UX design and application security. Come to think of it, hackers hate the SSL certificate, while application users love it. Let me break down everything for you to understand. When a web application is fitted with an SSL certificate, the application can only run on HTTPS encrypted sessions. HTTPS encryption is the backbone of web application security. The protocol provides a secure ground for data to move between web servers and web browsers without interceptions by attackers. Only the intended parties in the communication channel possess the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle (the decryption key) needed to read and decipher the data.
User experience relies on the SSL certificate in the sense that users will want to confirm the authenticity of a website before doing any transaction with the website. The certificates are often issued by organizations called certificate authorities. The certificate authorities first validate the validity and legitimacy of the application or organization requesting the certificate and confirm domain name ownership. All fundamental details that prove the organization’s identity will be embedded in the certificate. Users can click on the padlock symbol to get more information on the organization. Users love to work with an application they can trust and one that gives them the confidence to browse through. Although indirectly, HTTPS also plays a role in enhancing web speeds, another vital UX design aspect.
As you can see, the SSL certificate is a versatile tool that improves application security and establishes a great ground for excellent user experience. You can get one for your application and enhance the two aspects. There are several types of SSL certificates, such as extended validation, organization validation, and domain validation certificates, that are suitable for different web application needs.
Application security flaws in UX design
There are several UX design tricks you can employ to boost the usability of your application. Beautiful colors, conspicuous fonts, and stunning pages- designing an application’s user interface looks like a beauty contest with little or no risk of cybersecurity threats. But we have seen that is not the case. A perfect UX designer must have solid application security knowledge and integrate security as part of the UX process. To wind up the discussion of web app security for UX design, let us see some of the potential application security flaws in UX design;
Inadequate user authentication
User authentication is an application security element concerned with verifying a user’s identity trying to connect to an application. User authentication features such as passwords and biometric authentication help to protect the application against unauthorized access. And, like it or not, UX design is part of this mix. A quality user experience design should be well-positioned to apply the concept of user authentication in separating different user experiences with different authorization levels.
When an application freely allows users to enter and leave without any form of authentication, it might cause security issues and distrust in users. In today’s age, people are more concerned about their online security than ever before. Users won’t browse with confidence when using such applications, and this might hurt their user experience. Conversely, user authentication should never be so demanding and complicated. Take, for example, a system that requires a user to pass through three or four multi-factor authentication processes. However much that seems like a great idea, UX designers should make the authentication process flawless and as fast as possible. Long and complicated authentications could be hurdles to good UX design.
The more intuitive the app navigation, the more secure it is. The logic here is that when users know how to use your application, they will use it properly. Therefore, users will stick to responsible application usage and avoid anything that could land them or the application on the wrong path. And app intuitiveness is one of the most critical aspects of UX design.
Ease of spoofing
Applications that are characterized by aspects that frustrate usabilities, such as spelling errors, poor branding, non-responsive content, poor content floor, punctuation, and grammar mistakes, usually relay a lack of quality. Such applications can be spoofed easily. Users can have a hard time differentiating between real and fake applications. Take the case where a hacker steals poorly-written content, revamps it, and posts it on their website. Even though the website is illegitimate, the fact that it has quality content stolen from the original website makes it look genuine. In the end, web visitors end up as victims of phishing attacks.
Long log-in times
You have probably seen the “Accept Cookies” popups in your course of browsing through the web. However frustrating the popups might be, cookies remain a small yet important layer of UX security. They track the frequency and lengths of users’ sessions. As part of the cookies policy, it would help to implement automatic logout times (for instance, after twenty-four hours) to boost the application’s security.
Application security and UX design are two significant elements of any application. Finding the balance between the two is a must for the good of your users and your application. UX designers have a role to play in ensuring that security remains at the heart of their applications. Although the two aspects might contradict occasionally, designers have no choice but to find the state of equilibrium where the two work optimally and in tandem. The art of striking a balance between UX and security is still a work in progress. From a more positive perspective, users are getting savvier about security and won’t mind an extra layer of security, even if it means compromising their experience a little.
Being a Digital Marketing Executive at Cheap SSL Shop, Gunjan Tripathi has the in-depth understanding of the technical, strategic and commercial aspects of digital marketing. He writes about technology, digital marketing and also contributes and shares knowledge about cyber security based on his proven and extensive experience.