Best practices to protect user privacy in your iOS apps

Safeguarding user data is a fundamental aspect of iOS app development. For iOS developers, prioritizing app security is essential to complying with privacy regulations (like GDPR and CCPA) and delivering an experience that respects users’ personal information. A security breach can negatively affect the brand’s reputation and ROI. So, let’s explore some tactics that you can utilize to provide an additional layer of security to your iOS apps.

Best practices to follow for protecting user privacy in iOS app

  • Implement Apple’s app sandboxing

The term ‘sandbox’ is derived from the concept of a child’s play area where they can freely build and destroy things with sand without affecting the outside world. Likewise, Apple enforces a strict sandboxing policy for iOS apps, isolating them from the rest of the system. This ensures that each iOS app has limited access to the device’s resources and data, promoting a secure environment for users. 

Following this recommended approach requires crafting the iOS application. That will operate effectively within its assigned sandbox, minimizing the potential security risks to the entire device. If you possess the technical proficiency to develop iOS apps in accordance with Apple’s App Sandbox requirements. The app development process will be quite straightforward for you. Nevertheless, to save time, you can consider partnering with an experienced iOS app development company to do it for you within the desired timeframe and in a cost-effective manner.

  • Enable data protection

Enable data protection

It is another crucial best practice to enhance user privacy and ensure the security of sensitive information. Data protection is an iOS feature that enables automatically by setting an active passcode for the device. It involves encrypting the app’s data using a unique encryption key stored in the device’s hardware, protected with the user’s passcode.

The encryption and decryption processes are carried out automatically with hardware acceleration in the background, enabling users to read and write files normally. Moreover, even if hackers gain unauthorized access to the system. They will not be able to decrypt the data without entering the passcode. 

There are four levels of data protection available that an iOS app developer can apply to each file according to the requirements. Let’s have a look at them.

  • Complete protection

Data will be accessible only when the device is unlocked. Every time a user is logged out, the data will be inaccessible until the user logs in again to the device. It is the highest level of data protection, which is suitable for sensitive information. The file will remain inaccessible until the device is unlocked, even in the event of loss or theft.

  • Protected unless open

It is slightly different from the highest level. When applying this, existing files can only be opened when the device is unlocked. But if the file is already opened, you may continue to access it even after the device is locked.

  • Protected until first user authentication

It is the default protection level. After applying this, data will be accessible only after the user unlocks the device for the first time post-reboot.

  • No protection

Data is accessible at all times, even if the device is locked.

In case an app developer does not specify a protection level when creating a file, iOS will automatically apply the default one.

  • Use HTTPS for secure network communication

Use HTTPS for secure network communication

This is a basic but non-negotiable practice for securing iOS apps on all network communications. HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) protocol encrypts the data exchanges between the app and server. Providing a secure and encrypted communication channel between the client (iOS app) and the server. Moreover, HTTPS prevents eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle attacks. 

Adhering to HTTPS standards aligns with various privacy and security regulations. Such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Compliance with these regulations is crucial for apps handling sensitive user data. 

  • Store sensitive data securely

iOS provides a secure storage mechanism called the Keychain for storing sensitive information such as passwords, cryptographic keys, and other credentials. Here are some reasons why using Apple’s Keychain is considered a best practice.

  • The Keychain automatically encrypts the stored data using hardware-backed encryption on the device. This means that even if someone gains unauthorized access to the device, they would still need the appropriate encryption key to decrypt the data.
  • Being a separate and secure storage space, Keychain is isolated from the app’s regular data storage. This makes it more difficult for attackers to access sensitive information even if they manage to compromise other parts of the app.
  • The Keychain can be configured to require the user’s biometric authentication (such as Touch ID or Face ID) or device passcode before allowing access to stored data.
  • iOS apps operate within a sandboxed environment, and the Keychain is designed to work seamlessly within this security model. It helps prevent data leakage between apps and provides a secure storage solution within the app’s designated space.

Overall, by leveraging the Keychain, developers can implement a robust security mechanism that aligns with Apple’s recommended best practices. However, proficient knowledge in iOS app development is essential for effectively leveraging the Keychain. As only skilled app developers can ensure its seamless integration. They possess the expertise needed to apply encryption and access controls, thereby enhancing the security of stored credentials. Thus, if you are short of relevant expertise, it will be better to hire an iOS app developer to proficiently implement Keychain and ensure the security of sensitive data.

  • Follow Apple’s app store guidelines

Apple set clear guidelines for iOS app developers regarding data collection, usage, and storage, ensuring that user information is handled responsibly. Adhering to such guidelines during iOS app development helps prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data, fostering a secure app environment. 

Moreover, compliance with Apple’s standards can contribute to the app’s success on the App Store. Apple is known for strict app review processes, and apps that violate privacy rules may be rejected or removed. By aligning with Apple’s requirements, a business ensures its app is more likely to be accepted and accessible to a wider audience.

However, developing iOS apps following Apple’s standards requires proficiency and experience. If your current team lacks these specified aspects. Or you do not have a dedicated team, you can opt for iOS app development services from experts. This approach allows you to bring in external expertise to develop iOS apps compliant with Apple standards.

  • Perform regular security audits and updates

Although mentioned last in our best practices list, this remains crucial to adhere to protect user privacy in an iOS app.

Security audits involve a comprehensive review of the app’s codebase, infrastructure, and configurations. This process helps identify potential vulnerabilities or weaknesses (like insecure data storage and improper session management) in the application’s security. By conducting periodic audits, iOS app developers can proactively address security loopholes, enhancing the overall robustness of the app against evolving cyber threats.

Regular updates, on the other hand, ensure that the app stays current with the latest security patches and fixes provided by Apple. Updating an app plays a pivotal role in fortifying the app’s defenses and closing any known vulnerabilities.

Overall, performing regular security audits and updates is a proactive approach that helps maintain compliance with privacy regulations. Demonstrates a commitment to user data protection, instilling trust among app users. 



The commitment to privacy is a valuable asset when seeking to engage users and clients. Incorporating the above-listed best practices during iOS app development will help you meet industry standards and demonstrate a dedication to safeguarding user information. This will further help position your iOS app as one that respects and prioritizes user privacy. A crucial aspect in today’s digital landscape.

Author Bio : Nathan Smith is an experienced web and app developer, currently working with TechnoScore- a leading software development company. As a technology enthusiast, he is passionate about sharing his web and application development knowledge through his articles. Nathan keeps himself up-to-date with all the latest trends, innovations, and disruptions happening in and around the IT industry. He is also keen on sharing his ideas and understanding of the innovations in the IT domain with individuals and entrepreneurs interested in the trade.

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