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How to Perform SSL Pinning in iOS Apps?


    In the modern digital landscape, where security breaches are more common than you think. In this scenario, securing sensitive user data has become a top concern for any iOS app development company.

    iOS Apps

    One of the most impactful measures to ensure the security of iOS applications is none but SSL pinning. This cryptographic technology acts as an unbreakable shield against possible threats. It makes communication between an application and its server remain tamper-proof and confidential. In this detailed guide, you can delve into the basics and complexities of SSL pinning, and backing up iOS app development agencies to strengthen their application's defences and build lasting user trust.

    Familiarizing SSL with iPhone

    SSL, that is Secure Socket Layer is a high-end technology that only lets secured digital interaction between two devices and networks.

    To keep the data private and safe, the protocol encrypts the data before it is exchanged between a web browser and a server.

    It is quite noticeable as a webpage that has a functional SSL certificate setup simply starts with ‘https’ instead of ‘HTTP’. You can see it just as you visit the site. The letter ‘s’ within the ‘https’ denotes the security. The data transferred between the browser and the server is fully encrypted by the SSL usage indicator.

    SSL plays a prominent role in the performance of websites and apps that handle confidential data, such as login credentials, credit card details, or even private data. These applications and websites can prevent malicious actors from interpreting users’ data because of SSL.

    You have choices that include wildcard, single-domain, and multi-domain SSL certificates, among others.

    Selecting a trustworthy certificate authority (CA) to purchase an SSL certificate for your iPhone app or website is important, as they provide high-quality certificates. If you browse “buy SSL certificate” online, you can find a wide range of possibilities. To ensure that the certificate you receive meets your needs and provides the necessary level of security, you need to conduct detailed research beforehand.

    The Methods of SSL Pinning in an iOS Application

    Various methods are implemented by iOS apps for performing SSL pinning. Among the many methods, certificate pinning and public key pinning certificates stand out as the most widely implemented methods when it comes to enhancing security.

    It is crucial to understand the importance of SSL pinning within iOS apps for protecting sensitive user data. Whether you have decided to Hire iOS app developers or explore in-house development, ensuring a basic knowledge of SSL pinning is vital to fortify your application's security and build a base of trust with users.

    Pinning iOS Certificate

    In its most basic form, SSL pinning includes linking a designated SSL certificate to a specific web server. The client verifies that the server's SSL certificate matches the pinned certificate when it establishes a connection with the server. The establishment of a connection takes place if they match; but if they do not match, the connection breaks. Working with expert iPhone app developers will help you to build highly functional iOS apps for iPad, Mac, and other devices.

    There are two methods for pinning a certificate on iOS: pinning the entire certificate or just the public key. More protection is provided by pinning the public key, which limits secure connections to the server that has the matching private key. This is because public key pinning includes SSL certificate pinning.

    This pinning is decryptable only with a private key.

    Public Key Pinning

    The Public Key Pinning is an advanced version of SSL pinning. It includes linking a specific web server to a specific public key.

    To make sure that the pinned key matches along with the server’s public key, the client first needs to establish a connection with the server. The connection is made once more if the keys match. If it is not matched then it is broken. Steps for Implementing SSL pinning in iOS apps:

    Identify the Domain Certificates

    Identify the SSL certificates used by the domain(s) your app communicates with.

    Download the Certificate(s)

    Start by downloading the SSL certificate(s) directly from the server(s) and incur them in your Xcode project.

    Configure Application Transport Security (ATS)

    Upgrade your app's Info.plist file to enable exceptions for the specific domains, letting your app interact with them.

    Implementing SSL Pinning

    Write codes to thoroughly compare the server's SSL certificate(s) with certificate(s) locally stored within your application. If they match up, only then allow the particular connection, or else make sure to reject it.

    Manage the Certificate Changes

    Utilize logic to handle certificate changes, such as updating certificates in your app and notifying users if the certificate(s) change unexpectedly.

    Testing of SSL Pinning Functionality

    Then test the SSL pinning functionality thoroughly to ensure it is running just as expected and is maintaining the security.

    These steps will help you effectively implement SSL pinning in your iOS application and provide protection against potential man-in-the-middle attacks.

    Why is SSL Pinning crucial in iOS Apps

    There are apps that often handle sensitive data, such as login credentials, financial information, and personal information. In such cases, including SSL pinning in the iOS app development process is an unavoidable precaution for complete security. SSL pinning makes sure that a client only establishes secure connections with trusted servers by connecting a specific SSL certificate to one web server.

    Several use cases determine the importance of SSL pinning. Some of the primary examples include mobile banking applications that utilize SSL pinning on iPhones to protect a user’s monetary information and halt any illegal access.

    Advantageous of SSL Pinning Attributes to Boost App Security

    You are aware that SSL Pinning is a vital need for security, but did you also know that it comes with many advantages? The three techniques of SSL Pinning that boost the security of your iOS application iOS application include:

    Privacy of Data

    SSL Pinning obstructs conversation monitoring to prevent hackers from interrupting or accessing the data. This helps in protecting the privacy and security of sensitive data.

    Higher Security

    SSL Pinning safeguards data sent from devices to the server and confirms the legitimacy of the server. It assures that the data that is being transported is secure from the MiTM, which is man-in-the-middle attacks.

    Protection Against False Certifications

    SSL Pinning also prevents hackers from utilizing authentic certificates that the Certificate Authority (CA) has issued. For example, an attacker might use a legitimate certificate that has been issued for a different domain or subdomain. Instead of relying completely on the CAs, SSL Pinning checks the certificate against a predefined set of reputed certificates to thwart this type of attack.


    While SSL pinning is broadly implemented for meeting robust encryption requirements and amplifying security, in the long run, it is advisable for any sort of high-risk app development. Additionally, as per the SSL’s existing chain of reliability and trust, the pinning process of SSL provides high reassurance when it comes to server identity.

    Yet, the server's SSL key changes impose a potential challenge while updating the application each time whenever required. A top iOS app development company can smoothen the complexities of the procedure for you, ensuring timely updates, and high app integrity to security.

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