In emergency and disaster situations, mobile devices and mobile apps enable first responders and public safety professionals to receive and share critical information in real time, enabling delivery of lifesaving services. However, as our reliance on mobile technology continues to increase, mobile apps have become the new target for cyberattacks using malware, ransomware, spyware, and app coding vulnerabilities which may expose personal data, drain the device’s battery, compromise the security of the device altogether, or provide fraudulent information resulting in the disruption of time critical services.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate recently released the report Securing Mobile Applications for First Responders which describes a mobile app pilot testing program designed to serve a public safety purpose. The research team collaborated to identify security vulnerabilities and privacy issues important for public safety users and to recruit app developers to participate in testing and evaluation. This report describes findings from the testing, feedback from the developers who participated in the pilot, technical and program level lessons learned, and recommended next steps. A copy of the report can be downloaded at https://tinyurl.com/ydx6byyn.