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Developing secure apps for the public sector with iOS


How can you easily develop apps for the public sector that can be used by agents in the field without the threat of a privacy breach?

From tax agents to customs authorities: public sector employees increasingly use apps to improve the quality and efficiency of their work. But how can you easily develop apps for the public sector that can be used by agents in the field without the threat of a privacy breach?

With the increasing digitisation of government services, the number of public sector apps is growing. Apps for taxpayers, like the Berichtenbox app with which government notices can be received. But the public sector also has various teams of app developers who develop apps to facilitate the work for civil servants. These apps are available from both public app stores and via the MDM Enterprise App Store. Custom apps can also be made available via Apple Business Manager (ABM).

App privacy and security                                                                                                                      An important choice made during the development of these apps is the operating system: iOS or Android? Or both? Important criteria for this choice are the costs (TCO), the availability of apps and the people in the field using the devices. As a public authority, other aspects have to be considered, such as the privacy and security of apps. With iOS, you can develop apps that have advanced and user-friendly features that are integrated into the operating system.

Xcode, the development environment for iOS, iPadOS and macOS.

Integrated App Security                                                                                                                          iOS has configured the security of apps over multiple layers. For example, apps must always be signed with an app code and iOS apps have access to exclusively their own data thanks to sandboxing. These two elements create a safe and stable platform for apps, enabling developers to create reliable apps, without users and system administrators needing to worry about viruses or malware.

The developer does not need to take any extra measures for the security of iOS apps.

Careful control of identity and review of developed apps                                                            What is more, developers of new apps must first register with Apple for the Apple Developer Program. After the identity has been carefully verified, a certificate is issued with which developers can offer apps for distribution. This prevents cyber criminals from developing and offering malicious iOS apps.

For the developers themselves, this also means that no measures need to be taken for the purpose of securing data in the app. Not opting for iOS will therefore readily mean that extra measures need to be taken to secure use of the app, also leading to additional costs.

Once an app has been developed by a developer and submitted to the App Store for publication, a review procedure is conducted. Apple’s app review team determines whether the app does what it should and verifies that all of the procedures above have been completed. This means you are protected from malicious apps.

With iOS, you can develop apps that have advanced and user-friendly features that are integrated into the operating system.

Accessibility                                                                                                                                              In addition to privacy and security, as app developer with iOS you also satisfy many government requirements with regard to accessibility. How easily can your app be used by specific users with a handicap, such as those with a visual or hearing impairment? iOS has many standard functions that can be used by every app to make things easier for these users.

Public sector organisations were required a number of years ago to ensure that websites satisfy certain accessibility requirements. As from 2021, apps must satisfy these as well. With built-in accessibility features, such as VoiceOver, Speech, Assistance and Display adjustments, and accessibility APIs as well as various tools for app developers, the iOS platform is perfectly suited to ensure every type of user a smooth user experience.

Safe software guarantee                                                                                                                          A last important factor in your choice of an app platform is that iOS users more frequently have the latest version of the operating system. Three weeks after iOS 13 was released, it was already running on more than 50% of all iOS devices. By comparison: the newest Android version is only running on the devices of less than 1% of all Android users.

Using the newest version is key for security updates, of course, but above all else, app developers prefer to make apps that run on the newest version of an operating system.

Would you like to know more about developing secure apps for the public sector? We would be happy to assist you.