Best Practices to Protect User Privacy in Your iOS App

Best Practices to Protect User Privacy in Your iOS App
Best Practices to Protect User Privacy in Your iOS App

When it comes to iOS app development, protecting user privacy should be a top priority. Users put a lot of trust in mobile apps by sharing their personal data, so it’s crucial for developers and app owners to take security seriously. Moreover, Apple is pretty strict about not allowing shady applications in their App Store, which shows how important following their security guidelines is during development. 

Here are some best practices developers can use to go above and beyond in keeping user data safe and private in an iOS app. Read on to know how these practices can ensure that your iPhone app protects user privacy and passes Apple’s strict app review process for security with flying colors. 

Key practices to protect user privacy in your iOS app

Use HTTPS for secure networking communication

The Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) encrypts the data exchanged between the iOS app and external servers. HTTPS is especially vital when transmitting sensitive information, such as login credentials or personal details, over the network. This reduces the risk of interception or tampering of data by malicious entities. 

Furthermore, the adoption of HTTPS in networking communication reflects a proactive approach to protecting user privacy and maintaining the integrity of the data entrusted to the iOS application.

Enable data protection

When iOS’s data protection feature is implemented, the app’s data is automatically encrypted, providing an added layer of security against unauthorized access.

Data protection works by utilizing the device’s unique hardware-specific key, often referred to as the device’s “Class Key,” to encrypt and decrypt data. The Class Key is itself protected by the user’s passcode, ensuring that only authorized users with the correct passcode can access the key and subsequently decrypt the data. This encryption and decryption process occurs seamlessly in the background without interfering with the user in reading or writing the files.

Furthermore, there are four data protection levels available that an iOS app developer can apply to each file. Also, when not specifying any protection level, the default one will be automatically applied. Let’s have a brief description of these levels.

  • Complete protection – Data is inaccessible unless the device is unlocked. This means every time a user logs out, data will be inaccessible, until the next login.
  • Protected until first user authentication(Default) – Data will remain inaccessible until the user unlocks the device for the first time after a system reboot.
  • Protected unless open – Files are accessible when the device is unlocked. But if you have already opened a file, you can access it even after the device is locked.
  • No protection – Files are accessible at all times, providing no encryption; suitable only for non-sensitive information where privacy concerns are minimal.

Implement Apple’s app sandboxing

Apple’s app sandboxing is a security measure that restricts an iOS app within a controlled environment. It limits the app’s access to system resources and interactions with other applications. This restricted space, known as the sandbox, ensures that an app operates within well-defined boundaries, enhancing the overall security and privacy of the iOS ecosystem.  

Essentially, even if a security vulnerability exists within the app, the damage it can cause is contained within its designated sandbox. Also, during iOS app development, developers need to ensure that their apps comply with Apple’s sandboxing requirements to pass the App Store review process. Doing so will be easier if you or your team possesses the technical know-how. Nevertheless, opting to engage an iOS app development company is recommended for efficiency and time savings.

Conduct regular security audits

This is a proactive and systematic examination of the iOS app to identify, mitigate, and prevent potential vulnerabilities. Regular security audits are essential to ensure that an app’s defenses are robust and up-to-date. It encompasses reviewing the app’s source code, network interactions, and configuration settings. By doing this, an iOS app developer can address security issues proactively, enhancing the overall security of the iOS application.

Generally, security audits can be time-consuming, especially for larger and more complex applications. The more extensive and feature-rich the app, the longer the security audit is likely to take. In case of time constraints, you can hire app developers to do it as they are well-versed in best coding practices, including security best practices. They can effectively discover areas where improvements are needed to fortify the app against potential threats.

Adhere to Apple’s app store guidelines

Apple has established a set of rules and standards that developers must follow to have their apps accepted and maintained on the App Store. These guidelines include restrictions on using and collecting sensitive user information and requirements for secure authentication processes. 

Adhering to these guidelines signifies the developer’s commitment to creating a positive user experience that prioritizes privacy. It also helps avoid rejection or removal of the iOS app from the App Store. 

Utilize Keychain to securely store sensitive data

To store sensitive user information like credentials and personal data, one can use the iOS’s Keychain. It is a secure storage mechanism that provides a robust solution to protect this information from unauthorized access. Information in Keychain is not stored in plaintext, as it employs strong encryption algorithms to safeguard the stored data.

Additionally, the Keychain operates independently of an app’s sandbox which provides an additional layer of isolation. Even if an app’s sandbox is compromised, the Keychain remains secure, preventing unauthorized access to sensitive data. 

However, properly implementing Keychain can be complex for app developers. That’s why it is advisable to hire app developers from an experienced service provider. Their expertise in iOS app development ensures Keychain is integrated correctly, reducing implementation errors that could compromise security.

Benefits of iOS app security for businesses

Although building in security during iOS app development takes some extra work and time, it pays off well in the long-term for app owners/businesses. Beyond everything, it contributes to the overall robustness and reliability of the iOS application. Here are some other advantages of prioritizing iOS app security and user privacy. 

  • User trust and your brand’s reputation

Prioritizing the app’s security instills trust among users, ultimately enhancing the business’s reputation. Users are more likely to trust an application that ensures the security and privacy of their personal information.

  • Secure transactions

With iOS app security, businesses involved in eCommerce or financial transactions can ensure the secure handling of payment information. This safeguards both the business and its customers from fraudulent activities.

  • Business continuity

A secure iOS app minimizes the impact of security incidents resulting in contribution to business continuity. It ensures that the app remains operational, and users can continue to access services without disruption.

  • Competitive advantage

Businesses that prioritize iOS app security distinguish themselves as reliable and trustworthy, and thus stand out among the competition. They attract security-conscious users who take data protection very seriously. 

  • Mitigation of financial loss

In addition to reducing the risk of data breaches, implementing iOS app security measures helps mitigate potential financial losses associated with data theft, legal repercussions, and damage to the company’s reputation.


Securing an app is not rocket science, it just demands expertise and a little time. The best practices outlined in this guide are helpful for developers and app owners in implementing robust privacy protection. Adhering to these practices can mitigate potential security risks and position your app as a responsible custodian in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

However, developing and maintaining an app requires specialized skills and ongoing effort. And, you have to consider what’s best for the long-term. My recommendation would be to partner with an experienced iOS app development company. They will have the expertise to build a high-quality app that meets your needs, and they can handle ongoing maintenance and updates. This frees up your internal team to focus on other critical things while also enabling you to launch an iOS app that puts the user’s privacy first and foremost.