Mobile App Security Testing: Everything You Need to Know (2022)
Mobile Application Security Testing is security testing for apps running on mobile device platforms and operating systems, such as Android or iOS.
Here, we discuss mobile app security and how to make apps more private and secure.
More than ever, digital technology makes our lives easier and connects us to more people, products, and services. But with increased app usage comes additional points of security and privacy vulnerability.
Mobile App Security Testing
Many mobile applications modify registry entries, change a device’s operating system settings and send files to a device, creating key vulnerability points that mobile app security testing helps identify.
Applications that carry out these actions require additional security tests to ensure that an end user’s device and personal information remains secure with each app download. Mobile app security testing uses methods such as application footprint analysis to find out how the installation changes a device’s operating system, or tools like fingerprinting or hash security to look for unusual file changes.
While we intuitively feel that mobile systems are generally more secure, it is important to remember that no system is impenetrable. As cybercriminals focus on sophisticating mobile operations and exploiting vulnerabilities in these systems, consistent mobile app security testing becomes imperative to stay a step ahead.
What is Android App Testing?
Testing your Android app is an essential part of the app development process. By regularly testing your app, you can verify your app’s security position before you release it, as well as identify bugs quicker.
1. Prevent future attacks by guessing attacker behaviors and anticipating their changes
You don’t know whether or not cybercriminals will hack your mobile app, attack your system’s backend, and access your data. However, you can anticipate possible future scenarios and mitigate the associated risks with mobile app security testing.
A penetration test is a kind of security test designed for this purpose. In a penetration test, system administrators or approved third-party professionals simulate a cyberattack on your network. The goal of this ethical cyberattack is to determine any weak points in the network, or in the case of applications, the underlying codes, before they can be exploited by cybercriminals. Mobile app security testing provides a fast, reliable, automated way to perform this type of stress test and ensure apps maintain their rigor.
2. Bringing the new mobile app online without undue concerns about security risks
Before a new mobile app is deployed in an IT environment, it goes through mandatory technical and user acceptance tests to ensure that it meets technical and business requirements. These acceptance tests validate that this mobile application satisfies end-users and can be supported by IT teams.
This mobile application must meet technical and user requirements and operational needs, leaving the production environment unchanged and not introducing security risks.
Experienced software engineers and security professionals recommend taking a security-centric approach, from idea to design, build, go-live to execution, and routine support activities. Mobile app security testing can ensure an application meets these requirements before going live.
3. Modify the architecture if necessary
With mobile application security testing, you can uncover security vulnerabilities that can lead to serious security breaches after the mobile app goes live.
Knowing the source code errors, attack vectors, bottlenecks, and vulnerabilities before deploying the mobile application allows you to modify the application’s architecture, design, and code prior to the app being used publicly. While it may seem expensive to address these issues, fixing problems at this point is cheaper than fixing them later when you discover that the application architecture is bad or when a violation occurs. Again, mobile application security testing provides a robust and reliable way to stay ahead of any necessary architectural work.
4. Third-party vendors are unfamiliar with its IT environment and company-specific security standards and compliances
Almost all mobile apps use some web services running on the backend. Mobile app security testing analyzes not only the source code but also the behavior of the app at the endpoint: how it works with storing, certificates, personal data, how secure the communication is between the mobile app, its back systems, and the web service.
If hackers want to exfiltrate data, they don’t need to hack the mobile app. Hacking web services is enough.
A third-party software vendor does not know or cannot know all security policies and standards. They often mistakenly believe that mobile app security is not in the scope of app delivery or that security is handled by someone else in the organization at the infrastructure level. Or worse yet, developers might underestimate mobile app security and consciously choose inferior security measures. Therefore, it is even more important to test mobile apps for security when a third-party mobile app development agency develops them.
5. Find out about the skills and experience of the app development agency that builds your mobile apps
Security and app development are two different fields, and mobile app developers are not always security experts and vice-versa. The core competencies of developers lie in front-end coding and user experience (UX). They will train to ensure the application includes the required features and business functionality. Developers focus on the user interface (UI) to make their app intuitive and visually eye-catching, but focus less on security issues.
However, you want to ensure that the final delivery of the mobile app has built-in security measures. If the vendor doesn’t have an in-house security team, then, finding a third-party company or alternative company who does include security testing as one of their core competencies is recommended.
App security is a hygiene issue that all mobile app development agencies must address in their apps. Unfortunately, very few do so, as application security doesn’t come cheap. If the company does not specify security as a requirement, security will either not be implemented or will be to a limited extent.
6. Test the responsiveness of your company’s IT team
By adopting mobile application security testing as part of a mobile app development process and project, you can test the responsiveness of your organization’s security team. We can check response time, response quality, and feedback accuracy.
If the security team does not respond appropriately, something wrong with the process needs to be addressed. Alternatively, if support is outsourced, we can test the quality of that service.
7. Meets strict industry safety standards and complies with regulations
Security testing is important for highly secure ICT environments. It is required for ISO 27001 certification, HIPAA, FIPS 140-2, OWASP methodology and in some cases, required by law.
Security testing is a necessary part of the development lifecycle of a software application, and there is no reason why this security should not be a mandatory part of the development lifecycle of a mobile application.
Given the speed at which businesses are going mobile today and the rate of mobile cyber breaches, mobile app security testing is a must.
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