Singapore recently debuted its new Safe App Standard, the country’s own set of guidelines to boost mobile app security. This move, initiated by Minister Josephine Teo, seeks to address the ongoing surge in mobile app-related threats, aiming to create a more secure mobile environment both for consumers as well as app manufacturers. In collaboration with industry partners, the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) developed the new guidelines.

Standing as a blueprint for local app developers, the Safe App Standard outlines specific security measures and practices to combat common malware and phishing threats. This is significant, given that 80%+ of Singaporeans regularly use mobile apps for banking, shopping and travel – exposing a large percentage of residents to potential cyber threats emanating from the palm of their hand. 

The standard’s 46-page outline centers around four key areas vulnerable to cybercriminal attacks:

  1. Authentication: Secures various authentication methods, including biometrics and multi-factor authentication, to ensure they meet industry best practices for accurate and secure user identity verification.

  2. Authorization: Defines and enforces user access within an app, establishing sufficient systems to verify user rights and prevent unauthorized data access, thus maintaining data integrity.

  3. Data Storage: Protects the confidentiality of data stored on devices or servers, employing best practices and encryption to safeguard inactive data.

  4. Anti-Tampering and Anti-Reversing: Implements measures to deter tampering and reverse engineering of apps, increasing difficulty for malicious actors to compromise apps or access sensitive and proprietary information.

Singapore’s approach, recommending rather than mandating these standards, grants developers some flexibility to adapt while establishing a security benchmark. Nonetheless, the rapidly changing cyber threat scenario might lead to more stringent enforcement in the future.

For app developers, embracing the Safe App Standard entails modifying development processes and meeting compliance requirements. Although this might increase costs, particularly for apps handling high-risk transactions, it’s a big step toward preemptive security, enhancing app reliability and user confidence. Developers must also find a balance between innovative development and continual adherence to the outlined safety standards. 

The implementation of the Safe App Standard does pose challenges, such as the cost of compliance and the need for continuous updates to counter new and ever-evolving cyber threats. However, tech experts such as Shopee’s Thomas Kok, who serves as the app’s head of information security and digital risk management group, have acknowledged the importance of such measures in battling sophisticated cyberattacks.

Users almost certainly stand to benefit from defined standards, enjoying enhanced security and privacy. And along with that benefit, at a minimum, reducing the risk of data breaches and financial losses from cyberattacks, the standard will also likely raise users’ expectations for app safety.

A proactive effort to battle mobile app-related cybercrime, Singapore’s Safe App Standard focuses on the essentials of app security. While potentially challenging for some developers, its benefits for users and the online community are clear. This standard, as it becomes more widely adopted, is poised to influence global cybersecurity trends, marking a key step toward a more secure app ecosystem.

Published on January 10, 2024, the full 46-page outline of the country’s Safe App Standard is available for viewing and download at