10 Vital Steps to Test Mobile App Security

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Most of us on a daily basis engage with apps on our smartphones.   Whether for social, banking, or contact reasons, the security of these apps is vital.  Not just to end-users, but to the businesses that develop and distribute them.

What can be done to prevent hacking and the leaking of sensitive data?  Initially, an approach involving the testing of an app’s security is required, alongside the provision of assistance in defeating security risks.

While there are trustworthy and untrustworthy networks, all apps fall into one of three categories:

  •  Native apps – specifically written to run on a particular platform and its support devices such as an app that only runs on an iPhone.
  •  Web apps – accessible via any device as they are written in a standard language.
  •  Hybrid apps – One of each: websites packaged in a native app.

To provide security testing for apps, experts agree that the following three are the main areas to tackle:

  1.   Gain as much knowledge about the app as possible
  2.   Identify and analyse threats to the app (threat modelling)
  3.   Analysis of app vulnerabilities.  There are various methods for this – network monitoring, studying the communicating process, and forensic methodology. 

Generally speaking, vulnerabilities such as data leaking, encryption, authentication and storage capabilities all need to be tested. More definitively, here are 10 distinct activities that must be performed whilst testing Mobile App Security.

  1.  Automatically programmed security testing of mobile apps over numerous platforms and networks
  2.  Access to a cloud-based testing centre where actual apps can be uploaded for testing
  3. An extensive and assorted variety of automatic security tests to be conducted, in order to recognise the different vulnerabilities, and act upon the different types of security risks pursuant to them
  4. Vigorous testing and analysis within designated testing centres that create an opportune environment, whereby security risks are identified and verified
  5. Individual mobile apps to have their own test results analysed
  6. In a fast-moving industry, automated codes used by IT professionals to protect apps, need to be continuously assessed
  7. Regular controlled, real-time inspections of all app features, with results and data to be compared against a large variety of known apps
  8. Learn more about security exposures by examining an app from a hacker’s viewpoint.  Analyse the app from this angle to reveal where it is vulnerable to risk
  9. Gain knowledge of regulations within your industry — complete analysis of your app to confirm if it is compliant with current codes of practice and legal regulations
  10. Continuously perform all of the above — to continue to expose existing risks and highlight new threats within the industry

Remember, to ensure that effective testing, analysis, and treatment of security threats are regularly performed, you may need to consider third-party assistance.  An expert in this area will have established best practice testing facilities and staff with the capabilities to perform them.  This will speed up testing and deliver results as soon as possible, to confirm that your app is secure and ready to be delivered to the market.