It would not be wrong to say that mobile app pentesting is close to becoming almost a mandatory practice for all entities. This factor is due to the power that mobile apps wield in our lives currently. We often find ourselves at the disposal and mercy of smartphones and mobile applications. The staggering number of apps available on leading global app stores in the first quarter of 2022 pinpoints the prominence of mobile apps. Android had about 3.3 million apps, while iOS had over 2.1 million apps available for their users by the end of this year’s quarter. Such towering availability of mobile apps also makes them an easy target for cybercriminals. The burgeoning volume of cybersecurity troubles related to mobile apps backs this claim. In an analysis by Synopsys Cybersecurity Research Center (CyRC) of 3000 popular apps across 18 categories, it was observed that 63 percent of all apps had vulnerable components. We surely need to brace our mobile apps to tackle all possible security threats. Mobile app penetration testing can strengthen this endeavor of creating more durable cybersecurity frameworks.
What is mobile app penetration testing?
Mobile app penetration testing refers to assessing mobile applications and operating systems to identify security vulnerabilities. Also recognized as mobile security testing, cybersecurity professionals conduct mobile pentests using variously automated and manual techniques to analyze the mobile application. Mobile penetration testing can help create a firmer defense mechanism for your entity’s mobile apps. Thus, it also forms a vital part of the overall cybersecurity assessment of your company’s data protection posture.
What are the major categories of mobile apps?
There are generally three main types of mobile applications available in the market. Organizations use any of these categories of apps as per the requirements of their clients. Here are the primary three categories of mobile applications:
- Native applications
These represent mobile apps that are downloadable on one’s mobile device. Developers build native apps for specific types of operating systems such as iOS or Android. Python, Java, C++, Swift, and React stand among the leading programming languages app developers utilize for building native apps.
- Hybrid applications
Imagine a mobile app that you can install on your iOS as well as Android smartphones. Such functionality becomes possible with hybrid apps. They are conducive to more than one type of mobile operating system. Hence, they also get termed as cross-platform applications. Developers use programming languages like Flutter and React Native to develop hybrid apps compatible with platforms such as Linux, Windows, Android, and iOS.
- Progressive web applications (PWA)
PWA refers to an application based on the web that users can install on their required device. It is a web app akin to a native mobile app. One can use progressive web apps like general websites via web browsers and also install them on smart devices like regular mobile apps.
What are the main advantages of executing mobile app penetration tests?
Organizations can reap some highly desirable benefits of using mobile app penetration tests. Mobile app pentesting can help you in the following ways:
- Avoiding reputational damage
Entities toil for years to carve out a distinct status in the industry. Even minor security attacks and breaches can tarnish your reputation in the present times. Hence, it would be best if you used strategies like mobile penetration testing to safeguard your hard-earned reputation.
- Enhancing client confidence
Customers share a lot of personal information, including their location and bank details, on mobile apps. If there are leeways in the security framework of your organization’s mobile app, it can lower the user’s trust. Regular mobile app pen tests can help reinforce customer confidence in the long run.
- Protecting app data against malicious exploiters
The most desired benefit of mobile app pentesting is its role in fortifying the cybersecurity posture of your application. There might be thousands of illicit adversaries waiting to attack your app and data. Penetration testing helps you figure out misconfigurations and vulnerabilities to avoid actual exploitation of your app.
- Supporting increased ROI on your IT investments
A good ROI is a must-have for any business while evaluating its investments. Most business entities park a large amount of money to develop their IT security architecture and applications. If they cannot sustain the efficacy of their security strategies, this investment can turn out to be futile. Approaches such as mobile app penetration testing can ensure that your company’s cybersecurity and app development investment continue to reap more returns.
What are the top mobile app security risks that companies can better mitigate with mobile app pentesting?
There are some specific variants of security risks that are more prominent for mobile applications worldwide. Let us explore the top cybersecurity risks related to mobile apps that penetration testing can help manage.
- Insecure communication system
Often when there are deficiencies in the app development process, it can cause an unwanted exposure of the app’s backend to attackers. Adversaries can misappropriate sensitive information during its transmission through the internet from your mobile app.
- Unreliable inputs
Mobile apps usually utilize a safeguarding mechanism that depends on the values of a given input. However, there are chances that untrusted hackers may alter the input to bypass the app’s security system. Many developers fail to realize that there is a possibility to modify inputs like environment variables or cookies. They need to stay beware of inputs originating from outside sources.
- Unprotected data storage
Mobile apps tend to gain access to critical data of many users. Hence, an adequate data storage system is essential for any app. Proper security features must secure the data against malware or attackers.
- Code obfuscation
This term defines the technique of changing an application or software’s source code to create hindrances in the decompilation or reverse engineering procedures. Code obfuscation allows hackers to gain details about the app and plan a full-force attack.
- Inadequate cryptography techniques
Cryptology remains a crucial security method to shield important information. If app developers fail to implement an appropriate encryption process, it is prone to fatal attacks.
What is the methodology for doing a mobile app penetration test for an organization?
- Planning and discovery
The first and foremost task is to create a layout for the proposed testing procedure. Pentesters need to gather all relevant details regarding the mobile app and the client entity to plan their test.
They need to comprehend the mobile app’s design and architecture and assess the application’s data flow at the network level. Testing teams can access OSNIT (Open source intelligence) tools during this stage.
- Assessment, evaluation, and analysis
Now comes the phase where the pentesters put their observation skills into play. They evaluate the mobile app using techniques like architecture analysis, static analysis, archive analysis, dynamic analysis, reverse engineering, file system analysis, and inter-app interaction. Thus, testers assess the mobile app prior to and post its installation to devise their simulated attack.
In this third stage, the pentesters begin to simulate the exploit on the application to help create a situation of an actual attack. There occurs usage of different exploitation methods to get cues related to all types of vulnerabilities in the application.
In the end, the testing team drafts a formal report with details about the testing tactics used, the vulnerabilities discovered, the risks involved, and the remediation steps needed. The testing team submits the first draft report to the client for review and clarification. Once all client queries are addressed and necessary revisions completed, the final report is shared.
What are the main parameters pentesters can focus on while performing mobile app pentests?
Pentesting teams can emphasize the following focus parameters when implementing the mobile app penetration test.
- Privacy and data storage
- Architecture, design, and threat modeling
- Network communication
- Misconfigurations in coding or building settings
- Session management and authentication
Hire NaviSec’s cutting-edge cybersecurity specialization for your mobile app pentesting necessities!
NaviSec realizes the relevance of a solid cybersecurity framework for mobile apps. It uses automated and manual penetration testing strategies to achieve optimal results. Since mobile apps tend to be highly susceptible to attacks, we offer impeccable expertise to handle their pentests. Our team has experience managing mobile apps for multiple platforms, including iOS and Android. We help you boost your defenses to tackle the worst of offenses. Contact us to learn more about our mobile app pentesting services!