Mobile App Security Trends We Expect to See in 2021

The digital world has infinite possibilities and benefits that come along with it. As it progresses, people are quite content with giving away their preferences in exchange for a personalized experience that makes everything more convenient and simpler. The digital space continues to garner a lot of trust from users who blindly accept terms and conditions, who unknowingly download viruses, or open themselves up to hackers. 

Mobile security has seen rampant upgrades over the years. However, malware and viruses have kept up the pace. Many phishing websites have the famous lock symbol in the URL bar fooling users into thinking its a secure site. Malicious apps have made their way into app stores, and many apps are highly vulnerable. Phishing attacks, so cleverly disguised, have been targeting big brands across the globe. Child hackers can access your information in a matter of seconds. It’s safe to say that your PII is nowhere close to safe. 

Mobile threats are on the rise and lead analysts say investing in Mobile Threat Defense (MTD) is the way to go for businesses to safeguard themselves. Mobile threats are only expected to increase in the future with more sophisticated techniques that will run past common detectors. In order to help you get your defense up, let’s take a look at some of the mobile app security trends we believe you should watch out for in 2021. 

Mobile App Security Trends To Watch Out For

1. Malware sites disguised with SSL certificates

Generally, people feel safe once they see a padlock in the address bar. But currently, hackers are able to get an SSL certification without difficulty. More and more malicious sites bear the padlock luring victims who take it as assurance that the site is safe. LetsEncrypt, a certificate issuer, offers SSL certificates with no payment information, no genuine PII is required - It’s just free! No longer is the padlock a reliable safety check.   

2. 5G or not, the Wi-Fi attack vector is here to stay

According to Wandera, 29% of mobile transactions take place over cellular data while 71% is over Wi-Fi. Rumors suggest that the entrance of 5G will kill Wi-Fi, however, not much change is expected, at least not anything significant. Most likely, Wi-Fi and 5G will coexist with 5G providing better connectivity outdoors, and wireless routers taking over indoors.

Although public Wi-Fi might take a hit as mobile users will have better connectivity with 5G on the go. It’s highly unlikely that the Wi-Fi attack vector will fade away any time soon.

3. Preying on Exploitable Human Weakness through Mobile Spear phishing campaigns

Back in the day, phishing was done through email blasts or dropping USB pen drives outside a company’s premises, with hopes that one of the employees falls prey to the con. But now, with so much of personal data available through social media, attackers can spearhead their campaign to deliver a more personalized attack that pulls at the heart’s strings, making the success rate much higher.

Though Apple and Google continue to boost security and take stringent measures, hackers poke at human weaknesses by using simple channels such as SMS or a social media app but with a customized trick. On one hand, cybersecurity in 2021 will grow stronger, but so will malicious attacks.

4. Expect cryptojacking to disengage from Crypto prices

In late 2017, amidst the Bitcoin boom, people realized a more effective way to mine crypto i.e., secretly borrow the computing power of many machines. The traditional use of cryptomining is greatly dependent on the cryptocurrency price. If the prices go down, cryptomining will no longer be profitable. Therefore, cryptojacking might change track to target other profitable avenues such as IoT devices or DDoS servers.

5. Mobile being a huge challenge for GDPR

There’s a tug-o-war in the digital space between privacy and convenience. As users want maximum convenience, companies collect data from devices to deliver a more personalized experience for the customer. But companies like Google and Facebook faced a lot of scrutiny in 2018 for using such data which was seen as a breach of privacy.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), one of the most significant changes to legislation surrounding data, came into effect in 2019. Mobile is a major collector of third-party information as it sifts through search history, web forms, locations, etc., to make the device more personalized. Mobile poses a challenge for GDPR in a unique way and all security breaches will be scrutinized much more than before. Companies will now have to ensure they can justify handling user data.

Good Read: What is Mobile App Security and its best practices

As much as we’d like to build a bubble and hope that everything’s okay, the reality is that the cyber world is volatile. It’s imperative to analyze past trends to help us predict trends for 2019, making it easier to know what to watch out for. As the mobile becomes more and more ingrained into society and businesses, security guards need to rise against the threats.

6. Mobile banking and payments boom

The world is transitioning to cashless mobile payments through apps. And, with monetary transactions come greater responsibilities to assure that the security of all transactions made online is maintained. Any unexpected breach, malware attack or other types of digital fraud can not only make the financial and personal information of the users vulnerable to hackers but also make unauthorized transactions resulting in huge financial losses. With all payments going digital, the need for mobile security apps is also mushrooming. 

Even the slightest risk in the mobile app security can result in disclosing personal information of users like banking information, location, etc. making the people extremely vulnerable to cybercrimes. Undoubtedly, mobile applications security has become a must-have for all organizations who wish to stay competitive in the market as well as maintain a healthy, long-term relationship with their users.

7. Machine learning-based mobile app security

ML-based mobile app security systems have been in use in the past, but their dominance in the market is continually increasing. In 2021, this trend is expected to be growing further, allowing firms to build more adaptive and flexible threat detection mechanism. 

Machine learning-based protection monitors all activities to detect malware and predict all probable cyber-attacks and threats. ML empowers mobile app security systems to process and analyze all the enterprise data efficiently, faster, and more securely.

But, the dark side of this is that most cyber-hackers actively adopt machine learning techniques to build phishing systems, search for vulnerabilities in existing application code, and develop malware that can easily bypass signature methods of threat detection. The most exciting factor to see in 2021 and beyond is how the companies take up the ML-challenge and go beyond the tricks of the hackers. 

8. MSSP (Managed Security Service Provider)

The trend towards adopting Managed Security Service Provider is taking over, as more large and medium-scale companies are seeking its help to resort to their security challenges. MSSPs expertly provide commercial information security services to assure the safety of all mobile applications. 

MSSPs help to reduce cost as they eliminate the need to buy specialized software. They also offer a higher level of information security and more reliable web/mobile security solutions as the responsibility lies with the trained professionals. But, attackers are getting smarter with the use of Managed Service Providers as a channel to compromise the security of different businesses. So, MSSP is going to be in high demand by both parties in the near future.

9. SoC approach

In 2021, the mobile security trends revolving around the SoC creation will continue to gain traction and popularity.

Security Operation Center will drastically improve the cybersecurity stance of enterprises by advancing their protection techniques. With the adoption of SoC, the modern security standards get refined and also the rules that allow building clear processes get stronger towards preventing cyber threats. In fact, it not only prevents the cyber attacks but also helps in strengthening the response to the attacks.

10. MFA or Multi-Factor Authentication will take the front seat

The best mobile security application requires a reliable multi-factor authentication system with intelligent device identification mechanism, especially regarding the business systems. This justifies the emergence and development of all IDM services, which leverage a new identification approach. Identity Management systems are taking full advantage of the MFA technology to simplify the process of effectively managing business systems, which are tied to mobile devices. Adapting MFA eliminates all possible factors of human error by withdrawing all unnecessary access from the user. 



Published on Jan 1, 2020
Subho Halder
Written by Subho Halder
Subho Halder is the CISO and Co-Founder of Appknox. He started his career researching Mobile Security. Currently, he helps businesses to detect and fix security vulnerabilities. He has also detected critical loopholes in companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, and others


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