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Testing Your Mobile App Security

Mobile App Security

Mobile App Security: Like all things these days, your mobile apps require the best version of security and detailed periodic testing procedures, either automated or by a team of security professionals depending on how in-depth an analysis you’d prefer. 

Often, potentially vulnerable apps do not conduct the right kind of tests to test their weaknesses against the dangers of the Internet. Mobile applications are treasure troves of sensitive information, making them a prime target of various kinds of attacks, especially the middle-man approach where the right positioning in the exchange of information between servers allows skilled hackers to gain access to and manipulate their preferred data points. More about Mobile App Security: https://www.getastra.com/blog/app-security/mobile-application-security-testing/

The issues in mobile app security

Best Ways to Avoid Security Issues in App Development

The existing system of protection used by mobile apps is the same as conventional websites i.e., SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or TLS (Transport Layer Security). However, there is a lacking in the standard of SSL certification and mobile applications do not reach the level of mainstream browsers. Lack of adequate validation of SSL certification leaves the space open for hackers to substitute with their version of an illegitimate SSL certificate, providing them with the authority to view sensitive data of customers and manipulate them to their needs. 

If your clients regularly connect to these mobile apps with untrustworthy public networks are especially at risk from rogue access points or other users on the public network. A 2012 study concluded that at least 17% of apps on the Android Play Store have failed to secure full SSL certificate validation.  In this manner, many other problems and loopholes exist in the maintenance of mobile app security. 

What can be done to amplify security?

A standard mobile app security test is a part of the larger and more comprehensive security assessment of the security levels or a penetration test that covers the entire infrastructure of the client-server and server-side APIs used by the app. The evaluation of mobile app security is usually done through a dynamic and static analysis and two modes of testing are conducted. ‘Classical’ tests that are conducted near the end of the finished version of the app and identify the tiniest security issues, while the other test is conducted at the beginning of the development cycle with the implementation of requirements and instituting automated security tests. 

Static Analysis

Under this version of testing, the mobile app’s code is analyzed to confirm sufficient security controls, making a manual/hybrid automatic approach necessary. While automated versions catch the obvious threats, the professional can explore the code in-depth in a later context by keeping the app’s characteristics and requirements in mind. 

  • Manual code review – As the name suggests, this step involves manually going through the source code for potential security holes. This may require basic keyword searches using a ’grep’ command to examine the code line-by-line. Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) allow the reviewing of basic code functions and possible extensions using various tools. There are certain vulnerability indicators available through searching for certain APIs or keywords, such as database-related method calls ‘executeQuery’ or ‘executeStatement’. Through a manual analysis, you’re able to catch issues that go against the business logic, potential design flaw or any violation of standards. 
  • Automated code analysis – Automated tools can speed up the entire process of Static Application Security Testing (SAST), functioning under a set of rules and regulations to display visible problems and vulnerabilities. There are tools that need to be fed source codes, some that run against compiled apps only and other live analysis plug-ins within the IDE. The potential for false positives is high in this scenario, therefore the end results must always be reviewed by a professional.

A few tools that can help you achieve this are: Android Debug Bridge, Mobile Security Framework, iMAS, etc.

Dynamic Analysis

In this form of analysis, the evaluation of the app happens during real-time execution, an entirely different situation from static analysis. Dynamic analysis is conducted at the mobile platform layer, against the backend services and the APIs, so the main form of communication in the form of requests and responses can be evaluated. It also helps in finding out issues with and setting up protection for data in transit, authorization and authentication of users and any technical server configuration issues. 

  • Automated scanning – As given under automated code analysis for static analysis, this form of testing contains the inherent flaw of ‘false positives’. Sometimes, the vulnerabilities mentioned are those of a web browser but not applicable to mobile apps. However, issues such as Cross-site Request Forgery (CSRF) and Cross-site Scripting (CSS) are reported promptly. 
  • Clipboard – Be wary of the content that you copy, as it is readily made available on the clipboard from which malicious apps can retrieve and use it for malpractices such as passwords and other sensitive information.
  • Penetration testing – this is the final and most detailed step towards security analysis of the app. It involves preparing the app for testing by collecting the required information, analyzing potential entry points and vulnerabilities, forced exploitation and then reporting of the issues found for fixing.

A few tools that can be used in the dynamic analysis are: QARK (Quick Android Review Kit), Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP), Mitmproxy, etc.

These are some of the many testing procedures commonly used for ensuring mobile app security – periodically conducting such procedures will help you maintain your customer base and useful data without the fear of being hacked. Here is the penetration testing pricing that you can check to get your application audited.

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