Guidelines to Mobile App Security Testing

INTRODUCTION

Study shows that an average person, across the top ten countries, spent 4.8 hours a day on their mobile phone last year—covering one-third of waking hours and up 30% from 2019. This rapid growth of consumers demands development in all aspects. The consumer can download their wanted application from any site. This involves security risks and malware. For such reasons, application security testing and engineering security are essential.

SECURITY HAZARDS FOR MOBILE APPLICATION

Our devices carry a ton of personal information. These make it prone to malware, insecure data storage, data leakage. During app development, engineers must be cautious about inadequate security control, data leakage, data and device-server vulnerabilities. Hackers tend to exploit these shortcomings. 

Malware is a potential threat. It can harm the business via the client’s server.

Authorization, authentication, and session handling are concerning factors why mobile application security testing is necessary. Longer passwords are difficult to hack on smaller devices. But some applications reuse tokens which leaves them vulnerable to hackers. 

Testing website security is necessary to prevent URL Manipulation, spoofing, etc.

If these risks are not addressed and engineered, it can lead the business to critical security risks.

MOBILE APPLICATION V.S. WEB APPLICATION

Before discussing the security testing mechanisms, we need to know the fundamental differences between a mobile and web application.

Web ApplicationMobile Application
A web application is available online and can only function on a web browser. It is used on a myriad of devices. A mobile application only works on a mobile phone. It is designed to be used on smartphones and other touch devices. 
According to the viewing screen, these applications run on a web browser and can be shrunk down in size. These applications are available in Google Play for androids, Windows Store for Windows, and Apple store for iOS.
They provide a lot more features than mobile apps. For example- Adobe Photoshop offers both mobile and web application versions, still, the web version offers a better user experience.Functionality is limited. Many mobile apps focus on a single purpose, like social apps such as Twitter, which allows you to interact with others. 
A web application is typically built using a combination of two programming languages. It can be coded by a single developer or sometimes by a group under a software engineer.Companies can recruit a developer, or you can also try developing one if you have some programming skills. They can be of two types – native and hybrid apps. You can choose according to your purpose.
It is not the case for web apps.It is possible to communicate with mobile apps even if the server is down. The choice of offline applications is available.
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METHODS FOR MOBILE APPLICATION SECURITY TESTING

Our mobile phones are hubs of information. Statistics show that around 50% of internet traffic comes from mobile phones. As a result, our phones are prone to attacks from malware and hackers. Inevitably this issue arises concern. When it comes to our gadget’s security, we adopt the following methods. 

  • Instead of finding defects on every step, it is more effective than you build security in your application. Application security testing involves quality engineering with risk assessment in the design phase. Risk analyzing includes examining the product’s nature, app assessment techniques, and data storage methods.
  • It’s advised that the developer use shift-left and shift-right techniques. Mobile application security testing needs to be done thoroughly in the early stages of the development itself. It will be more effective if the developers perform additional tests before every upgrade.
  • The client-server architecture should be kept in view while focussing on threats and vulnerabilities in applications. The APIs need to be checked thoroughly where the systems access and transmit the data.
  • A comprehensive testing strategy includes threat assessment, static and dynamic analysis during development, automated scanning, and penetration testing.

STEPS TO WEB APPLICATION SECURITY TESTING

To test website security, one must know the HTTP protocol and understand how the client (here browser) and the server communicate using HTTP. A survey revealed that browsers are more susceptible to exploit attacks (around 14.76%). Hence you should be aware and follow these basics that can ensure your web application’s security:

  • Password Cracking: As discussed earlier, complex passwords and usernames can save you, to an extent, from malicious trackers. If your username or password are stored in cookies without encryption, then an attacker can steal the cookies and your information stored in the cookies.
  • URL Manipulation: Web application security testing involves checking whether the application passes important information in the query string. The application uses the HTTP GET method to pass it from the client to the server. 
  • If an attacker manipulates every input variable passed from the GET request to a server, they get to access the required information or can even corrupt the data.
  • SQL Injection: SQL injection is a standard web hacking technique. This might destroy your database. So this needs a rigorous check. Enter a single quote (‘) in any textbox. If it gets rejected by the application, then it is okay. If the tester encounters a database error, the user input is inserted in some query and then executed by an application. Hence the application is vulnerable to SQL injection. 
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Then you can follow methods such as.

  1. Input validation
  2. Parametrized queries
  3. Stored procedures
  4. Escaping
  5. Avoiding administrative privileges
  6. Web application firewall
  • Cross-Site Scripting (XSS): Attackers use this method to execute a malicious script or URL on the victim’s browser. They can use scripts like JavaScript, and after cross-site scripting, the attacker can steal user cookies and information stored in the cookies. To save your application, you must be very careful around these points and should not modify the application’s configuration or the server. Services running on the server should never be manipulated. The application’s existing user or customer data should also never be modified.

TOOLS FOR TESTING

TOOLSAPPLICATION
HeadSpinTest your mobile application on thousands of real device to make sure you offer the perfect digital experience to your users.
ImmuniWeb Mobile SuiteIt gives coverage to mobile apps, web apps, and their servers
Micro Focusend-to-end testing is enabled across many browsers, platforms, networks, and servers.
Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP)It is widely used. Has the ability to send malicious messages for penetration
KiuwanThis is a critical tool in security testing. This tester supports static code analysis and software composition analysis. It allows the teams to implement security testing earlier in the development process.
AcunetixIs an end-end application security tester. Uses advanced macro recording technology to scan complex multi-level forms.
NetsparkerIt tests web application security. It is best for its precision and unique asset discovery technology. It gives proof of exploit and confirms that it is not a false positive. This tool provides detailed scanned results with insights on vulnerability.

CONCLUSION

Security testing is a very potent factor in application development. A proper test strategy saves your device from potential harm. Testing must be done at an early stage, the development stage. The vulnerabilities observed while testing must be engineered at the earliest. The coverage should be end-end, the application and the back-end server and data flow.

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