Standard Practice for Protecting Sensitive Data in Java

Every time we do surfing on the Web or we download any file from Web, we take a risk of a virus attack. Maybe that file contains some malicious code that can breach the security and gain unauthorized access to system resources. If we are building an application that has users’ sensitive data, for example, a banking system contains confidential data like credit and debit card details, addresses, email and so forth. Then securing those data becomes our foremost priority.

In this article, we are going to discuss a few standard practices for protecting the sensitive data of users in Java.

List of Standard Practices for Protecting Sensitive Data

Java platform and its architecture offer various security mechanism that allows developers to build a secure and portable software. Though we need to follow certain practices that can help to protect users’ sensitive information.

Let’s discuss some points regarding securing sensitive data −


Authentication is the process of checking or validating one’s identity who are interacting with the application. It is the foremost important step as to avail other services of application the identity of the user must be verified. One of the common practices to verify a user is by entering username and password.


After authenticating the user, the next step is to validate what sort of actions a particular user is allowed to perform and this activity is called as authorization. For example, an HR Management System has two types of users, one is an employee and another one is the admin. There exist some differences between the authority of an employee and the admin. A normal employee cannot add, update or remove any kind of information on the other hand an admin may have the right to do so.

Use built-in Security features of Java language

The security of a system is also impacted by the choice of programming language used in its development. The security features provided by Java language are a plus point for developers that can reduce various security vulnerabilities.

  • It provides type safe feature means if we have declared an integer variable then we can’t initialize it with a string value.

  • It has automatic memory management that removes unreferenced objects automatically.

  • Java establishes bound checking on arrays means if we try to access the elements of an array outside its range then we will encounter ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException.

  • Java bytecode makes Java programs portable as well as secure.

Password Encoding

Weak passwords results in various hacking and phishing attack incidents. At the user level, we need to use a strong password that includes alphanumeric letters and passwords must have more than 8 digits in it.

At the developer level, whenever we ask the users to signup for the system, we can’t store their login details in plain text. That could be the worst mistake. Rather, we can use various hashing and encryption algorithms to protect passwords. A few examples of hashing techniques are SHA-256, BCrypt and SCrypt.

Regularly updation of Dependencies

Dependency is a programming practice where one component of a software system is dependent on another component. It may cause a serious security threat. This is the reason to check and update dependencies. Developers can use automatic dependency management tools such as Apache Maven or Gradle to detect outdated dependencies.

Java Security Manager

A Java process has access to all resources, file systems and networking with no restrictions. Probably, we don’t want to give all sorts of access to them. For this, we can enable the Java Security Manager that controls the permissions related to access.


They contain a pre-written collection of classes, interfaces and methods available for our use. Using them without proper knowledge may cause security breaches because they may not be getting regular updates and few of them could be in a trial state. Therefore, it is essential to use only those libraries that are used widely and get regular updates.


The Java language is considered one of the most secure programming languages. It provides a lot of pre-built security features. However, following the above pointed guidelines are still necessary to avoid security threats. In this article, we have discussed standard practices that are intended to help developers to build secure software.

Updated on: 15-May-2023


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