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Mobile Application Security Testing

Read Time: 5 min.

Users willingly install and register in mobile applications, but few ordinary users think
about data security. Mobile application security testing is an important element of your security strategy.

Mobile Application Security Testing
Mobile Application Security Testing

The Relevance of Mobile Application Security Testing

Developers pay great attention to the design of software products for gadgets, trying to make them as convenient and user-friendly as possible, and mobile application security testing allows you to identify how secure your mobile application is. According to statistics, mobile applications are downloaded hundreds of billions of times annually, and almost 60% of the time spent in digital space falls on application usage.

Want to have an in-depth understanding of all modern aspects of Mobile Application Security Testing? Read carefully this article and bookmark it to get back later, we regularly update this page.

Mobile devices have firmly entered our life, occupying many of its areas, from communicating through numerous instant messengers to mobile banking and doing business using special applications. Mobile application development technologies are constantly evolving.

The client part is working on the device after it was downloaded, where developers place their systems. The developer's side represented by the server. Frequently, it is the software that generates and processes the website content. Now we use a lot of applications every day, while almost half of them contain confidential data, like passwords, API keys and others that have strict encryption requirements, and most of them use abilities that could reveal users' personal data.

That is why mobile devices are subject to increased attention and discussions on security issues. OWASP Mobile TOP 10 is the most known methodology of mobile application security testing.

Free Mobile App Security Test from ImmuniWeb can easily check your Android or iOS application for OWASP Mobile Top 10 vulnerabilities.

Key Vulnerabilities Detected by Mobile Application Security Testing

1. M1 - Improper Platform Usage

This M1 includes misuse of the feature of OS or security measures of the platform. This often happens and can have a significant impact on vulnerable applications.

2. M2 - Insecure Data Storage

This risk on the OWASP list warns the development community of the hazardous storage of mobile device data. A hacker can get physical access if device was stolen, as well as log into it using hacking soft.

3. M3 - Insecure Communication

M3 is another common risk that mobile app developers forget about. Data transfer to and from a mobile application is usually done through a carrier or Wi-Fi. It is known that attackers succeed in disclosing users' personal information if this transfer is not protected. Hackers intercept user data on a local network via a jeopardized Wi-Fi network, connecting to it through routers, other equipment or using an infected application using malware.

When sending requests with user’s data to the server, some may be sent via HTTP instead of HTTPS. If physical access to smartphone or tablet took place, a cybercriminal can easily get access to the file system after connecting to the computer. Many freeware programs allow attackers to come at to directories and personal data located in there. This means that you need to remember about confidential information in the application, which must be stored in encrypted form and that applications can share data with other applications. This vulnerability also reveals mobile application security testing.

4. M4 — Insecure Authentication

Weak authentication for mobile applications is quite common due to the input form factor of the mobile device. It is strongly recommended using short passwords, like four-digit PIN codes. Requirements for mobile authentication may differ significantly from usual web authentication ways due to accessibility requirements. In common web applications, people in real time are supposed to be connected to the network and authenticate. Once an attacker understands how weak the authentication way is, he cheats or get round authentication by sending requests, without using the latter at all.

5. M5 - Insufficient Cryptography

If you use encryption, but at the same time use weak encryption / decryption processes or admit flaws in the algorithms that run them, then user data will again become vulnerable. Attackers can try to use cryptographic problems by gaining physical access to a mobile device, using malicious applications on the device to access encrypted data and monitoring network traffic.

6. M6 - Insecure Authorization

M6 involves using authorization to log into the system as a legitimate user, unlike M4, when an attacker tries to bypass the authentication process by logging in as an anonymous user. As soon as an attacker gains access to the application as a legitimate user by deceiving the application’s security mechanism, his next task in M6 will be to gain administrative access by forcibly sorting requests, among which he might stumble upon administrator commands. The result of this security breach is that an attacker could perform binary attacks on a device offline.

7. M7 - Client Code Quality

This vulnerability arises from weak or conflicting coding, when each developer sticks to different coding practices and generates incompatibility in the final result of the program. Mobile application security testing will show that the savings for developers here are that, even if the prevalence of this risk is general, its detection is low. It’s not easy for hackers to learn patterns of bad coding, often requiring a difficult manual analysis. Due to poor coding, the user of the mobile device may experience slowdown in processing requests and the inability to correctly download the necessary information.

8. M8 - Code Tampering

Here we can only say that you should not download APK applications from third-party resources, since hackers prefer to falsify code in applications, as this allows them to get unlimited access to other applications on the smartphone, as well as to user behavior.

9. M9 - Reverse Engineering

This vulnerability is used to analyze binary files to define the source code and algorithms. The software can give an idea of the internal working of the application, can be utilized to quest for weak spots, as well as to gain important sensitive data from it, like encryption keys or a backend server.

10. M10 - Extraneous Functionality

Developers commonly store code in the application before it is ready in order to have easy access to the internal server. This code does not affect the operation of the application in any way. But when the attacker finds these hints, the developers are unlikely to like it, because they can be, for example, credentials for logging in with administrator rights.

Certification Testing and Mobile Application Security Testing

Data security and privacy are of great importance nowadays. Users require all their information to be kept safe and confidential. You must ensure that the application under test is secure. Check for the possibility of introducing SQL injection, for the possibility of intercepting sessions, analyzing data dumps, analyzing packets and SSL traffic.

It is very important to check the security of the confidential data storage of your mobile application and its behavior in accordance with various permission schemes for devices. In addition to checking for unconditional encryption of user names and passwords, answer these questions:

  • Are there any restrictions, for example, the number of login attempts before blocking users?
  • Does the application use secure network protocols?
  • Does the application have security certificates?

Next, it is needed to perform such actions for mobile application security testing:

  • find out, whether security structure of the application requires a strong password and does not let the attacker to use passwords of other users;
  • find out, whether logins, passwords, credit card numbers and other data of application users are protected from attacks by automatic systems and cannot be detected by selection;
  • protect the application and the network from DoS attacks;
  • check whether the time of the application session is appropriate;
  • find dynamic dependencies and take measures to protect these vulnerabilities from hackers;
  • check if the application does not provide access to secret content or functionality without proper authentication;
  • prevent unsafe data storage in the device’s memory; - protect the application from SQL injection attacks;
  • find cases of unmanaged code and eliminate the consequences;
  • analyze the requirements for the storage and verification of data;
  • provide session management to protect information from unauthorized users;
  • study all cryptographic codes and fix errors, if necessary;
  • make sure that the business logic of the application is protected and not subject to external attacks;
  • make sure that the certificate has not expired if the application uses Certificate Pinning;
  • analyze the interaction of system files, identify and fix vulnerabilities;
  • free the system from buffer overflow cases or from memory integrity violations;
  • check protocol control units (for example, is the page not reset by default using malicious iFrames);
  • protect the application from malicious attacks;
  • protect the system from malicious intrusions while the program is running;
  • examine user files and prevent their possible harmful effects;
  • eliminate the possible harmful effects of cookies;
  • ensure regular monitoring of information security;
  • analyze different data streams and protect the system from potential harmful influences.

To summarize:

A hacker rarely needs to take in his hands a mobile device to steal data.

Most problems with security are common to iOS and Android operating system. Hazardous data storage is a major danger, as it is identified in three quarters of mobile applications.

Then, personal and financial data, as well as passwords always undergo a hazard.

The success of a cyberattack on a mobile application directly depends on how carefully the user himself is concerned with the safety of his data. The prerequisite for hacking may be elevated privileges or programs downloaded from an unofficial source.

Risks arise not only due to individual vulnerabilities on the client or server; threats are often caused by several seemingly minor flaws in different parts of the mobile application.

Having analyzed the possibility of using the OWASP Mobile TOP 10 methodology for mobile application security testing, we can conclude that it allows you to clearly and numerically analyze the number of potential vulnerabilities that could lead to a violation of the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information that the program receives, stores and processes.

To make even a more reliable mobile application security testing we offer ImmuniWeb MobileSuite, scalable, rapid and DevSecOps-enabled mobile app and backend penetration testing with tailored remediation guidelines and zero false-positives SLA.

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