How to Take Care of Data Security in React Native?

How to Take Care of Data Security in React Native?


Nowadays, in such a risky world, achieving absolute security, especially when dealing with sensitive data in mobile apps, can often seem like a daunting task. However, app developers largely influence the resilience of a React Native application against security threats through their dedication and effort in fortifying its defences.

So, how can you reinforce the data security in your React Native app? The answer lies in choosing a proactive approach, staying up-to-date with the latest security updates, and implementing best practices tailored to native apps. Let’s go through the strategies that can help you upgrade the security stature of your React Native app, making it robust, easily scalable and resilient against emerging security concerns.

Need an assistance in securing data in your React Native app?

Environmental variables

Environmental variables allow you to separate secrets from your source code. They are particularly invaluable when dealing with API keys or other credentials that require confidentiality. For instance, in the context of open-source projects, environmental variables enable you to share the source code while allowing contributors to configure their own .env files.

These variables also offer a dynamic way to configure your React Native applications without altering the native source code. You can observe this in practices such as the common strategy in mobile app development, where developers set different database URLs for each environment.

However, the effectiveness of environmental variables is contingent upon a crucial step: ensuring the .env files are added to your .gitignore. Otherwise, you may end up with unauthorised access to many services your app is relying on, increasing security risk. If you use Google a bit, you will find tons of stories of people losing money or data because of the secrets exposed on the repository.

In 2023, the management of environmental variables in React Native has taken a significant leap. While developers still recommend popular libraries like react-native-dotenv for their ease of integration and effectiveness in securing secrets, they increasingly emphasize the utilization of serverless functions, such as AWS Lambda or Google Cloud Functions. These serverless approaches to handling API keys and secrets offer a more secure alternative, as the secrets in server-side code are less accessible to API consumers compared to those embedded directly in the app code.

Storing sensitive data

When it comes to managing sensitive data in React Native apps, you need to choose the right type of storage. This is especially important for persisting user data used for offline support. It also helps save users’ access tokens, thereby eliminating the need for repeated authentication each time the mobile app is used.

One of the most popular modules for storing data in React Native is Async Storage. The question is: is it secure enough, too?

Async Storage

Async Storage is an unencrypted and persistent key-value storage, which is available across the React Native app. It is not shared between apps – each application has its own sandbox environment. As a result, has no access to data from other apps.

More than that, it’s a good idea for storing non-sensitive data across the application. It might be a Redux or GraphQL state or some global app-wide variables. On the other hand, you shouldn’t use that for storing tokens and secrets, as the storage is not encrypted in any way. 

You probably started wondering about any more secure alternatives for Async Storage. The good news is that if you need some encryption, you can use Secure Store!

Secure Store

React Native itself does not come bundled with any kind of storage for sensitive data that would improve app security. However, there are some pre-existing solutions available. For iOS, there are Keychain Services, which allow storing small chunks of sensitive data securely. If you are wondering where to store tokens, passwords, and any other information – it’s the right place. Android has its equivalent called Shared Preferences.

In order to use Keychain Services or Shared Preferences, it is possible to use one of the available libraries:

  • react-native-keychain
  • react-native-sensitive-info
  • react-native-secure-storage

They are very easy to implement in your project. If you are building your app with Expo, you should give expo-secure-store a try. If you have ever worked with Async Storage, the usage is pretty much the same, except your data is safe!

What are some other pros of using Secure Store? Except for the obvious one (encryption), you may appreciate some other facts: 

  • The device must be unlocked to get access to the keychain.
  • It is not possible to restore the keychain to a different device.
  • In newer devices, encryption keys are stored on the hardware level rather than on the app level.

For Android apps, a notable advancement is the use of Encrypted Shared Preferences and the Android Keystore system. Encrypted Shared Preferences automatically encrypt keys and values, providing an added layer of security for mobile apps.

Daniel Nizynski, React Native Expert

The Android Keystore system is designed to store cryptographic keys securely, making it more challenging to extract them from the device. React Native encrypted storage uses Keychain on iOS and EncryptedSharedPreferences on Android, offering a unified and secure API.

These developments underscore the importance of choosing the right storage method for the data stored in your mobile app. This may significantly mitigate the risk of a security breach.

SSL pinning

Even if you are using HTTPS endpoints, your data may be still vulnerable to interception. SSL pinning is a technique that can be used on the client-side to avoid man-in-the-middle attacks. It works by embedding a list of trusted certificates to the client during development. Only requests signed with one of the trusted certificates will be accepted, and any self-signed certificates won’t.

You should keep in mind that fetch and axios do not come with SSL pinning. To make it work in your app, you should consider using one of two libraries:

  • react-native-ssl-pinning
  • react-native-pinch

They are both easy to implement, using OkHttp3 on Android and AFNetworking on iOS to provide SSL pinning and cookie handling. The certificates need to be bundled inside the app.

When using React Native SSL pinning, it’s crucial to be aware of certificate expiration. Certificates typically expire every 1-2 years, and it’s necessary to update them in both the app and the server to ensure continued functionality. Neglecting this update could result in operational issues if the server’s certificate is renewed, making older versions of the app incompatible.

Daniel Nizynski, React Native Expert

This attention to detail is essential in maintaining robust app security against security threats and safeguarding your React Native application from potential security breaches.

Prevent access for rooted devices

There are many reasons people are rooting/jailbreaking their phones. If your app is working with some very sensitive data, you should consider protecting it with identification whether the device is rooted or not. These kinds of devices may gain unauthorised access to the data you are storing in your app.

To protect your app, you can use a library called jail-monkey. With just a few lines of code, you can:

  • Identify if a phone has been jail-broken or rooted for iOS/Android,
  • Detect if the device is faking its GPS location
  • Detect if the application is running on external storage such as an SD card (Android only)

Such precautions are particularly vital for apps like banking applications, which handle sensitive financial data. Therefore, most banking apps do not operate on rooted or jailbroken devices due to these inherent security concerns.

Safeguarding your React Native applications against the evolving security threats posed by rooted or jailbroken devices remains a critical aspect of app security. As mobile apps become increasingly sophisticated, it’s essential to regularly update your security measures. Also, you have to stay informed about the latest methods to detect and prevent unauthorized access.

Implementing libraries like jail-monkey both helps maintain the integrity of your app and plays a main role in upholding user trust and protecting sensitive user data.

Authentication and Deep Linking

When it comes to strengthening security in React Native apps, special attention must be given to authentication and deep linking mechanisms. Deep linking, while a powerful feature for providing a seamless user experience, can inadvertently become a security risk if not handled correctly.

To address this security concern, it’s paramount to ensure that deep links in your React Native application do not contain sensitive information. The inherent security risks associated with deep linking, such as the potential exposure of private data, necessitate this precaution.

On the topic of authentication, particularly with OAuth2 protocols and redirects, the integration of PKCE (Proof Key for Code Exchange) is now considered best practice. PKCE forces security by confirming that both the authentication and token exchange requests originate from the same client. This added layer of verification is essential in guarding against sophisticated attack vectors and ensuring the overall integrity of the app’s authentication framework.


The fundamental principle of aligning your security investments with the sensitivity of the data, the scale of your user base, and the potential repercussions of a security breach remain as relevant as ever.

For developers and app security professionals, it simply means consistently staying informed about the latest trends, practices, and tools in the world of data security. Whether it’s for protecting user input data, securing API endpoints, or safeguarding against reverse engineering efforts, a proactive and informed approach is key.

Remember, the more valuable and extensive the data your React Native app manages, the greater the responsibility to uphold stringent security measures.

Need an assistance in securing data in your React Native app?


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