Every business across industries relies on mobile applications as these have been crucial business enablers. Mobile device usage has spiked in the past few years, amplifying the mobile app sector. Reports suggest that mobile devices will reach 18.22 billion by 2025, with a revenue generation of $935 billion by 2023. Businesses are taking advantage of such exponential growth in mobile device usage into consideration more prominently in 2022 and are expanding their business operations by enabling mobile applications. However, delivering an insecure mobile application can be damaging to organizations. Here, the role of automated mobile app security testing is significant.
This article will provide valuable insights into why prioritizing automated mobile application security testing is essential in 2022 for organizations enabling business via mobile apps.
Key factors resulting in exponential growth in the mobile application market
Some major drivers contributing to such growth in the global mobile application market include improved data usage, widespread penetration of the Internet, availability of different ranges of mobile devices, the introduction of 5G and potential of 6G, and more.
However, such growth is also increasing data security and privacy concerns. From confidential intellectual property to sensitive data like bank account information, and personal information like social media credentials, any online transaction or process is vulnerable to compromising data via a security breach, piracy, data leakage, and unauthorized access.
Thus, it is crucial to ensure mobile app security by effective mobile app testing during the development process and regular monitoring post-app release.
What is mobile app security?
Mobile app security refers to securing mobile applications from external threats, breaches, and unauthorized access such as malware and digital frauds. It is specific to mobile applications running on various platforms such as iOS, Android, and Windows.
Common mobile app security threats
- Weak server-side controls
- Insecure storage of data
- Insufficient TLS( Transport Layer Protection)
- Security misconfiguration
- Client-side injections
- Sensitive data exposure
- Security misconfiguration
- Inadequate monitoring and logging
What is Automated Mobile Application Security testing?
Automated mobile application security testing is a form of mobile app testing that simulates real-world security attack scenarios to identify vulnerabilities that can impact mobile applications. Running a thorough mobile app security test explains the application's behavior and how it stores, transfers, and receives data. It also enables QA testers to inspect application code, check security, and evaluate issues in decompiled code.
There can be various mobile app security testing scenarios, such as triggering security threat response or scanning security guideline compliances. The ultimate objective of mobile app security testing is to eliminate security threats and vulnerabilities to deliver robust and high-performance mobile applications to end-users.
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Developers and QA engineers can perform mobile app security testing using Static and Dynamic Analysis.
Static analysis is an application security testing approach that considers the code-based representation of a mobile app. It does so either by inspecting the source code directly or by decompiling the mobile application and its resources for required inspection.
Dynamic analysis is the application security testing approach that analyzes the app at the test run-time. This approach helps identify behavioral variations for different target run-times or platforms when evaluating run-time behaviors or protection interactions.
Development teams can use the above approaches separately for mobile app security testing. However, combining these two ways can deliver highly robust and secure mobile applications.
What is Penetration Testing?
Penetration testing is one of the most commonly used security testing approaches for mobile app development teams. It helps in getting an initial external assessment of the mobile app when there is a lack of tools, security knowledge, or tools in-house to review the security frameworks of an application.
Why is Penetration Testing not 100% reliable?
Penetration testing can be an effective complement to comprehensive security testing. However, relying on it is not sustainable and adequate for detailed research on mobile app security, especially in 2022. It is not compatible with running quick security assessments in the rapidly evolving mobile app and software development sector. Moreover, multiple new security vulnerabilities are discovered every day, and many technologies exist on the perimeter systems with high internet exposure. Such gaps serve as potent opportunities for cyber-attacks.
Pen testing is a time-consuming and cost-prohibitive approach to testing the security portfolio of mobile applications. Sharing test outcomes by the external development and testing teams with the in-house development teams is time-consuming. In the case of low-risk scenarios, development teams often evade test reviews. However, the development teams must pause everything and focus entirely on addressing the issue in case of high-risk threats. This scenario creates an additional challenge for the organization to prioritize on-time app releases or address the identified security vulnerabilities.
Therefore, selecting the most appropriate security testing tool that is developer-friendly and specifically designed for mobile apps is critical.
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Why prioritizing Automated Mobile Application Security Testing necessary?
Technology is evolving, and so are the customer needs. Businesses across industries have to focus on innovation to cater to the rapidly changing customer demands. Thus, delivering an insecure mobile application can incur considerable costs in reputation, revenue, and customer loyalty.
Considering the exponential growth in mobile device usage predicted in 2022, organizations will take stringent and proactive measures to prevent IP theft, data leaks, reputation damage, and revenue loss. Therefore, mobile application security testing is expected to be driven by the development teams by using automation testing tools.
Automation testing provides the developers with feedback each time the app is subject to tests. It gives actionable test outcomes that enable application developers and QA teams to address security issues in real-time during the development process instead of waiting till the release or post-development cycle. It allows the dev team to continue working on other projects rather than putting everything on hold to address a single issue.
It is more manageable and cost-effective. Moreover, automated security testing tools enable developers and QA engineers to perform mobile app security testing as often as required. Thus, teams can subsequently perform more effective and successful penetration tests or external security assessments.
Mobile applications security requires more proactive and comprehensive monitoring, security policies, and methods evaluation in today's world. A reliable, robust, and self-remediating security framework requires a constant assessment at every application development stage. Thus, the ultimate approach to delivering high-performing apps is to ensure minimal disruption to existing application development processes. This calls for integrating automated mobile app security testing into the SDLC.
Millions of mobile applications are available across the world. However, end-users select highly secured apps that deliver a great experience, load quickly, and perform flawlessly under varying loads. Organizations must leverage an automated mobile app security testing platform that follows best practices and strategies to deliver highly secured mobile apps and gain a competitive edge globally.
1. What are the main categories of mobile app security testing?
Mobile app security testing is classified into seven key categories such as:
* Vulnerabilities Scanning: Automated testing software scans a mobile app for known vulnerabilities.
* Security Scanning: This process includes an automated or manual technique for identifying system and network vulnerabilities.
* Penetration testing: It is a kind of security testing that assists in detecting loopholes within a system.
* Risk Assessment: This process entails assessing potential risks inside a system. Risks are categorized into three categories: Low, Medium, and High.
* Security auditing: This process includes a rigorous inspection of applications and systems to identify vulnerabilities.
* Ethical hacking: This process includes hacking a system to identify faults rather than altered motives.
* Posture Assessment: This combines risk assessment, security scanning, and ethical hacking to determine an organization's cybersecurity posture.
2. What are the various security testing methodologies?
Security testing methodologies include:
* White-Box Testing- All the required information is shared with testers in the white box testing methodology. White-box testing is the ideal solution for calculation testing as it provides a comprehensive assessment of both internal and external vulnerabilities. While the association between developers and white-box testers gives a high level of system understanding, it may impact testers' behaviors, as they rely on information that hackers do not have.
* Black-Box Testing- The testers do not have any information and can test the system in a real-world setting. The tester has to assume the role of an average hacker with no knowledge of the target system. The testers do not have any non-publicly available architecture schematics or source code. A black-box test uncovers the system vulnerabilities that can be exploited from the outside of the network.
* Grey-Box Testing- Testers have partial information and have to carry out security tests as per their preferred test criteria. Gray-box testing provides a more targeted and efficient network security evaluation than black-box testing. By analyzing the network's design documentation, testers can focus their analysis efforts on systems with the highest value and risks from the beginning rather than spending time gathering this information on their own.
3. What are the tools that HeadSpin uses for mobile app security testing?
HeadSpin supports Appium, Selenium, XCUITests, Expresso, UI Automator, XCTests, FitNesse, EarlGrey, TestNG, JUnit, Experitest, Calabash, KIF for mobile application security testing.
4. What are the different types of mobile app security tests?
Various mobile application security testing types are unit testing, factory testing, certification testing, and application testing.