Top 10 Mobile App Security Questions Answered

With the rise of internet penetration and increased mobile usage, the significance of mobile applications has increased multifold. Everything is covered through mobile applications, from mundane day-to-day activities to high-end financial transactions. 

According to Techjury, there are 10 billion mobile devices currently in use, and a staggering more than 51% of people in the USA spend their time on mobile phones. 

With the plethora of mobile applications being used, there has been a tectonic shift in user behavior. We are getting more reliant on applications than ever before. With all the confidential and sensitive information flowing around, the security concern is the biggest nightmare for organizations to ensure the safety and security of the users' personal information. 

What is Mobile App Security?

In simple words, Mobile app security stands for the practice of safeguarding and protecting users' digital identity, sensitive information, and high-end mobile applications from all kinds of fraudulent attacks in all forms. Any form of interference or manipulation such as keylogging, Phishing, reverse engineering, tampering, or malware attacks is considered within the parameters of fraudulent attacks. 

Pertaining Queries Regarding Mobile App Security

When 1 out of 3 surveyed security professionals admit a lax loophole in mobile application security causing expensive remediation to downtime, it shows how daunting the security concern is!

Companies are rapidly venturing into cybersecurity, mobile application security solutions, secure app development, penetration testing, and many more to address the severe concern. 

Here we will try to address the top, and relevant queries asked in the mobile app security domain:

1. Why is Mobile App Security Important in App Development?

Mobile apps are the cynosure of all our attention in recent times. Every day millions of sensitive information such as financial details, geographical location, documents, personal details, etc., are shared over multiple applications. A single breach can bring the organization and its users to its knees. 

In July 2020, popular banking and financing application Dave faced a significant backlash and lost millions of dollars due to a cyberattack and lost 7.5 million customers' personal information.

This is not a standalone case; Facebook, Walgreens, 7-11 Japan, and British Airways, to name a few, have also faced severe consequences due to their app being attacked. 

Considering the present situation, it is paramount for any organization to ensure their app is safe and secure from vulnerabilities, outside threats, and malicious attacks. Companies are turning their focus now toward mobile app security as their foremost concern. 

2. What are the Security Issues for Mobile Applications?

To showcase how pitiful and ominous the situation is, we can reflect on current data. 35% of the mobile app development companies have never tested their mobile applications, and 40% have not catered to the clients' expectation standards in terms of security.
The multiple fronts where all the fraudulent attacks on the mobile app take place are:

  • Stealing login credentials
  • Unauthorized account takeover
  • Exposure of confidential credit card information
  • Unsolicited access to business networks
  • Identity theft
  • Phishing of confidential information
  • Denial of Service

 

3. How does Mobile App Security Work?

Mobile app security works on multiple fronts. It is a significant workload and a cumbersome process that the developers follow very carefully. The steps they take to ensure the safety are:

  • Database Securing – Data storage is an essential element where all data must reside safely and securely to restrict any unlawful and unauthorized access. The data needs to be entirely encrypted and with proper backup. 
  • Secure Source Code – Source code is the backbone of any application. It needs to be guarded with a high level of security so it can't be accessed or deciphered by any unauthorized source. 
  • Secure Data Transmissions – The countless amount of data gets transferred through apps every day. It is easiest for the attackers to bypass the security protocols and attack the confidential data when it is in transit. Data channels must be secure with SSL, TSL, HTTPS, VPN tunnels, and strong cryptography for enhanced and secure data portability and input validation tests. 
  • Vulnerability Assessment – In this step, we try to find all the loopholes in the system which can be potential attack points for the hackers. The automated VA process provides a comprehensive check on the system. It starts with uploading the binary ( for iOS/ Android), static scan, dynamic scan, thorough API security testing, and a complete and comprehensive report of VA assessment. It covers the entire paradigm of careful and rigorous testing and all the exposed vulnerabilities that need a remediation call. 
  • Penetration Testing - is known as one of the most effective processes for finding any loopholes in the security system. Penetration testing can be broken down into three parts – 
    • Analysis of threat landscape and performing exploits for advanced threat detection
    • A detailed Assessment report covering regulatory and compliance issues, vulnerabilities, and business impact
    • Implementation of corrective measures for a successful remediation.

 

4. How Do I Know if an App Is Safe?

There is no assured step by definitive step guide, but a couple of steps can be taken as preventive measures:

  • Always check for the review of the application
  • Always download from a reliable source or App store
  • Check how many downloads have taken place
  • What level of permission does it want?
  • Careful observation of the installation process and restrict any unwanted steps

 

5. How To Do Security Testing for Mobile Apps?

Security testing can be done in two ways – Vulnerability assessment and Penetration testing. 

VA testing is where we get to see whether any potential loophole or exposure exists in the system or not. It is done in multiple steps – static scan, dynamic scan, API scan, and code scanning against numerous use cases. 

Penetration testing, or PT, is checked whether any existing architecture weakness is prevalent or not and what level of threat it can potentially be. It can be segregated into three metric groups:

  • Basic metric Group
  • Temporal Metric Group
  • Environmental Metric Group

Through security testing, we try to gauge the following measures:

  • Business Impact: To understand the sheer impact of vulnerabilities that can impact the daily business operation and bottom line. 
  • Vulnerability Severity: Have a detailed assessment and analysis of the potential dangers emanating from the vulnerabilities. 
  • Regulatory & Compliance: To understand the underlying legal and regulatory issues that can emerge because of the vulnerabilities and adversely impact the business and the subsequent industry. 
  • Coverage of Test Cases: Detailed view of test cases the vulnerabilities have been tested against and what has been the underlying impact. 
  • Vulnerability Location: To pinpoint the existing vulnerabilities' location without spending unnecessary time scouring the entire source code.

 

6. How Do I Secure My Mobile App?

It is paramount to have users' trust and faith in the app's security as a developer. The various ways an app can be secure are:

  • Code needs to be written securely.
  • All data about the app must be encrypted.
  • Preventive measures need to be taken for libraries.
  • Using authorized and verified APIs only
  • High-level authentication with tamper-detection technology
  • Using the up-to-date cryptography tools and techniques
  • Using comprehensive and detailed vulnerability analysis to find out the loopholes
  • Complete coverage of Penetration testing to analyze the threat landscape and advance threat detection. 
  • Having an up-to-date and exhaustive list of vulnerabilities vetted against multiple test cases and understanding of its impact on business
  • Taking all the necessary preventive and corrective measures for a successful remediation.

 

7. What is a Mobile App Security Assessment?

A Mobile App security assessment is a comprehensive series of tests performed on an application to check the app's potential loopholes (if any). A team of security experts conducts the test or can even be completely automated. A detailed assessment report comprises business impact, severity level, code location, and regulatory and compliance-related checks. 

8. Why is Mobile App Security Testing Important?

According to Gartner, in 2015, 75% of the apps did fail basic security tests. With the high level of mobile penetration and growing userbase, people are more dependent on mobile applications than ever before. They prefer to conduct business and perform tasks through mobile apps without getting into the physical hassle.

There can be a plethora of existing javascript vulnerabilities and potential loopholes in the system that have gone untested and, if exploited, can wreak havoc in terms of monetary loss and business reputation. Mobile app security testing is the only way to keep the attackers at bay while authentic users can safely and securely use the app. 

9. What Are the Best Mobile App Security Solutions?

There are multiple Mobile App security best practices & tools in the market. We need to assess it carefully before going with one:

  • ImmuniWeb® MobileSuite
  • Micro Focus
  • Appknox
  • Drozer
  • WhiteHat Security

ImmuniWeb® MobileSuite: provides comprehensive back-end testing and PCI, GDPR, and DSS compliance. It also offers one-click patching via WAF.

Micro Focus: One of the biggest companies in the security and test management space, they provide end-to-end mobile app security testing across multiple platforms, devices, servers, and networks. 

Appknox: Rated as a high performer and the best ROI tool in mobile app security testing, Appknox has made its mark in the ecosystem. With comprehensive and automated static and dynamic mobile app security testing and a detailed vulnerability assessment, our security solutions are favored by startups, Fortune 500 companies, and enterprise businesses.

Drozer: Drozer is an open-source tool that supports both emulators and actual android devices for mobile application security purposes. It executes the java enabled code on the device itself.

WhiteHat Security: WhiteHat provides a cloud-based security platform that provides a brief and concise description of security vulnerabilities and provides a relevant solution.

10. What Are Some Reliable References for Mobile App Security?

Some good references include: 

  • Appknox Mobile Security Resources
    Our mobile security resources are a curation of the top mobile app security tips and best pratices, vulnerability analysis reports, expert webinars, ultimate guides, ebooks on industry trends, and case studies on how some of our Fortune 500 customers achieved mobile security superiority with Appknox.
  • The Ultimate Guide To OWASP Security Checks for Web and Mobile Apps
    OWASP security checklists are one of the best sources when looking for inexpensive, unbiased, and genuine information on application security.
  • Top Cyber Security Certifications for 2022
    If you’re interested in having a career in the cybersecurity ecosystem, these certifications lists give you a good head start to understanding the security space better.

We hope to have addressed your query by answering these frequently asked questions.

If you are wondering about the safety score of your app, feel free to reach out to us. Our cybersecurity experts can help you identify the scope of any possible breach and a suitable fix.

 

Published on May 19, 2022
Vaishali Nagori
Written by Vaishali Nagori
Vaishali is a Penetration Tester, as well as a Dancer and a Learner. She works as security consultant. She has worked with Web Applications, APIs, Android, and iOS Penetration Testing. She has secured over 70 applications from a variety of industries, including e-commerce, banking, management, gaming, trading, government, tax management, and financial services. She enjoys dancing and interacting with new people. You can find her on Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/vaishali-nagori

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