Android and iOS mobile applications allow users to interact with online services via their mobile devices from any place. Mixing professional and personal devices at work and home is now commonplace. As these mobile devices connect continuously online, the level of device exposure is continually increasing.
A mobile application penetration test involves cyber-security professionals conducting a manual cyber security risk assessment using the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) methodology. These attacks are performed to gain unauthorized access to systems via the mobile device until sensitive data is compromised, causing a loss of confidentiality and integrity of data.
Why Perform Mobile Application Penetration Tests?
A mobile application penetration test helps determine the mobile application’s security posture. It includes its storage, infrastructure, integrating databases and backend networks, etc., and suggests ways to improve its security. Here are the five most common objectives for performing mobile application penetration tests:
Examples of Common Mobile Application Cyber Attacks:
Improper Platform Usage – Occurs when developers fail to use certain system features correctly or at all, whether it’s on an Android or iOS operating system. This can include a failure to use well-documented security guidelines or misuse of certain platform APIs.
Insecure Data Storage – Occurs when developers fail to encrypt or securely store data, malicious actors could access sensitive personally identifiable information. This usually occurs when developers incorrectly assume users or malware cannot access certain devices or system files.
Insecure Communication – Occurs when transmissions over the public Internet or mobile carrier network expose sensitive data to attack. Most mobile apps leverage backend systems for data storage and resource-intensive functionality, but this creates an attack vector that may allow hackers to eavesdrop or intercept unsecured communications.
Insecure Authentication – Allows an attacker to fake or bypass identity management systems to access private data and sensitive app functionality. If app developers cannot properly verify the identity of users, they also cannot trace back any exploits to certain user accounts.
Insufficient Cryptography – Allows an attacker to exploit a weak encryption algorithm or poor encryption process to decrypt sensitive data. This includes not only private keys and passwords, but also the application code itself.