What is Mobile Application Security?

Mobile Application Security involves assessment of applications for security issues in the domain of the platforms that they are designed to run on, the frameworks that they are developed, and the anticipated set of users. Mobile applications are an important part of a business’s online presence and many businesses rely entirely on mobile apps to connect with users from around the world.

A lack of vetting can lead to security feature implementation that can be easily circumvented by attackers.

Common issues that affect mobile apps include:

  • Storing or unintentionally leaking highly sensitive data in many ways that it could be read by other applications on the user’s phone.
  • Implementing below par authentication and authorization checks that could be bypassed by malicious applications or users.
  • Using vulnerable and basic data encryption methods
  • Transmitting sensitive data without encryption over the Internet.


Mobile apps are basically classified into 3 categories:
  • Web Apps
  • Native Apps
  • Hybrid apps
Top Most Security Threats for Apps
  • Improper Platform Usage: Misuse of features of the phone or OS like giving app permissions to access contacts, gallery etc., beyond a need.
  • Superfluous Data Storage: Storing unimportant data in the app.
  • Failure to identify: the user, failure to maintain the user’s identity, and failure to maintain the user session are all examples of exposed authentication.
  • Insecure Communication: Failing to keep a correct SSL session.
  • Malicious Third-Party Code: Creating unnecessary third-party code or failing to remove unnecessary code.
  • Failure to apply server-side controls: The server should authorize what data needs to be shown in the app?
  • Client-side injection: causes malicious code to be injected into the app.
  • Inadequate data protection in transit: failure to encrypt data when sending or receiving via web service, for example.
What is Mobile Application Security Testing?

Mobile application security testing consists of testing a mobile application in ways that a malicious user(attacker) would try to attack it. Effective security testing begins with an understanding of the application’s business motive and the types of data it handles. From there, a union of static analysis, dynamic analysis, and penetration testing results in an efficient and optimized holistic assessment to find vulnerabilities effectively. The testing process includes:

  • Interacting with the application and understanding how it stores, receives, and transmits data.
  • Decrypting encrypted parts of the application.
  • Decompiling the application and analyzing the resulting code.
  • Using static analysis to pinpoint security weaknesses in the decompiled code.
  • Using reverse engineering and static analysis knowledge to drive dynamic analysis and penetration testing.
  • Using dynamic analysis and penetration testing to assess the effectiveness of the application’s security controls (e.g., authentication and authorization controls).
Why is it important to do security testing?

All organizations store a lot of information on their devices. Leakage of that information could cause serious damage to the devices and users. Encrypting your data can be a possible and potentially a good solution, but it’s not bulletproof – everything that can be encrypted can also be decrypted.

Resolve vulnerabilities with mobile app security testing

Mobile app security testing has become a critical part of protecting users and organizations from cyber attacks that exploit vulnerabilities in mobile apps.

The need to meet accelerated development deadlines frequently clashes with regulatory pressures and the need for adequate mobile app security testing to avoid serious breaches. Traditional testing solutions have often been time-consuming and difficult to use, leading development teams to cut corners on security testing while leaving some components exposed.

We provide a  solution – a suite of application security testing solutions(tools) that enable development teams to easily and efficiently optimize the integrated application security testing throughout the development process.

Vulnerable apps fail to validate SSL certificates

Mobile Applications that exchange sensitive data are prone to Man-In-The-Middle attacks where an attacker with the right position can view and manipulate traffic. The same approach of SSL based authentication is used by the mobile apps but they often fall short of the standard of certificate validation performed in mainstream browsers.

Without appropriate validation of SSL certificates, an attacker can replace a legitimate SSL certificate with the one under his control and thus view or alter data. There is threat from rogue access point as well as from other users on the same public wireless network. Browser based blocking of malicious websites is not enough to defend against such attacks.

Typical issues discovered during a mobile app and server test

  • Vulnerability to man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks
  • Insecure storage of sensitive data on mobile devices
  • Insecure use of cryptography
  • Weak session management
  • Unauthorized access to other users’ accounts
  • SQL injection
  • Server misconfigurations
  • Command injection
  • Well-known platform vulnerabilities
  • Back doors and debug options
  • Errors triggering sensitive information leaks
  • Broken ACLs/Weak password
Challenges of mobile application security testing
  1. Integrations with other apps
  2. Unsecured communications
  3. Breach of security that allows malware to be installed
  4. Use of various authentication procedures
  5. Test hidden parts of the application
Why choose us
  • Advanced Application Testing Infrastructure: We have a polished mobile application security testing environment, coupled with our security expertise. This helps us provide world-class app security solutions to our clients.
  • Multi-platform solutions: With our in-house developed testing methods, we have solutions for all major form factors and applications across mobile application technology.
  • End-to-end support: Our team brings in strong expertise combined with years of experience in the information security industry. We guide you through the entire software development lifecycle, from design to release testing.
  • Capabilities for source code review: SISA’s years of experience in source code review will help you identify coding errors, design flaws, and logic glitches early on, preventing rework.

Most of the  vulnerabilities can be avoided or limited if security practices are observed, while loopholes and security flaws can be found and closed through strategic, comprehensive automated and manual mobile testing.

Security testing of mobile apps is a real challenge that requires a lot of knowledge gathering and study. When compared to desktop apps or web apps, it is vast and tricky which makes it very important to think from the point of a hacker and then analyze your app. 60% of the efforts are spent in finding the threat prone functionalities of your app and then testing becomes a little easy.


    frequently asked questions

    • Mobile application security centralizes the software security architecture  of mobile applications on various platforms. It involves assessment of applications for security issues in the domain of the platforms that they are designed to run on.
      Here are some challenges faced while mobile application security testing
    • Integrations with other apps
    • Unsecured communications
    • Security breaches that allow malware to be installed
    • Utilization (and integration) of different authentication procedures
    • Test hidden parts of the application
      Here are some risks involved if mobile application security is not done:
      1. Data Leakage
      2. Network Spoofing
      3. Phishing Attacks
      4. Spyware
      5. Improper Session Handling
    • Methodology
    • Gather Mobile App Information
    • Threat Modelling
    • Application Mapping
    • Client Side Attack Simulation
    • Network Layer Attack Simulation
    • Back-end / Server side attack simulation
    • Reporting & re-tests
    There are 3 main categories that Mobile Applications are classified in
    • Web Apps: They are like the normal web applications that are retrieved from a mobile (any operating system) phone built in HTML.
    • Native Apps: These are apps native to the device built using the OS features and can run only on that particular OS.
  • Hybrid apps: These look like native but they behave like web apps making the best use of both web and native features.