Security Testing – Why is It Important for Apps?

According to Kaspersky Lab, “The total number of malware samples targeting smart devices has reached more than 7,000, with over half of these emerging in 2017, according Kaspersky Lab’s researchers. With more than six billion smart devices being used across the globe, people are increasingly being put at risk from malware targeting their connected lives.” But several studies show that enterprises avoid Security Testing and  don’t take adequate steps to protect their mobile apps from emerging security attacks. Most enterprises even do not focus on the security features of their mobile apps to speedup release.

The number of people using mobile wallets and indulging in mobile commerce transactions has been increasing consistently. Likewise, most users nowadays store both personal and business data on their mobile devices. The growing instances of mobile malware and ransomware attacks make many users opt for mobile apps with robust security features. Hence, the security of a mobile app directly affects its user experience, marketability, and profitability.

An enterprise can easily address the emerging security threats by performing security testing throughout the development and production phases of the project. The security testing results will help the business to identify the vulnerabilities in the app and secure the mobile app by eliminating all vulnerabilities. At the same time, security testing will also help the business to enhance the app’s user experience and prevent user abandonment.

Why Security of Mobile Apps must be tested thoroughly?

Eliminate All Weaknesses in the Source Code

A number of studies have highlighted that most cyber criminals execute targeted security attacks by taking advantage of the loopholes in the source code of mobile apps. The loopholes in the source code allow cyber criminals to take full control of the mobile device, and assess the valuable user information. The quality of code written by individual programmers differs. Also, the third-party code snippets used by programmers to save time affect the quality of the entire code base. So the testers must review the source code of the mobile app, and identify the weaker pieces of code that make the app vulnerable to targeted malware attacks.

Prevent Data Leaks

Nowadays, users store a variety of personal and sensitive information of their mobile devices. Most apps also access the personal information of users to deliver better and more personalized user experience. So it becomes essential for the businesses to eliminate the chances of data leaks. While performing security testing, the QA professionals can eliminate data leaks by assessing the data stored locally on the mobile device, hard-coded sensitive data in the application’s source code, and data in transition.

Detect Flaws in Third-Party APIs and Services

While using modern mobile apps, developers use a variety of third-party application programming interfaces (APIs), services and code snippets. As the tools and software are not developed by the in-house team, the businesses must assess their security thoroughly. In addition to checking the software, APIs and services individually, the testers also need to assess the security of the application after their integration. Also, they must focus on the data transmission to ensure that the user information remains safe despite using the third-party software.

Resist Real-Time Application Attacks

It is also important for businesses to protect their mobile apps from real-time application attacks. Normally, the real-time application attacks occur when the application is being executed. The cyber criminals try to harm the application by submitting malicious input at the runtime. The malicious inputs alter the application’s functionality and behavior at the runtime. But the testers can always use an innovative technology like runtime application self-protection (RASP) to identify the malicious inputs, and resist the runtime attacks by changing the configuration automatically.

Comply with Regulations and Corporate Policies

Most enterprises nowadays allow employees to bring and use their own mobile devices. So employees assess and exchange a variety of business data through their mobile devices. The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy makes it essential for businesses to ensure that the mobile apps meet their corporate security policy. The testers must perform elaborate security testing and review to ensure that the business data is accessible only by authorized employees. At the same time, they also need to assess the security features of the mobile app thoroughly to ensure that it complies with the latest regulatory requirements.

Resist Trojan Apps

A number of reports recently highlighted that many cyber criminals are distributing malware through websites and mobile apps. Often users download malicious applications or games on their devices without being aware of their malicious functionality. The Trojan apps or games can monitor user activity, retrieve sensitive data, impersonate the UI, make modifications to the system or configuration, and make unauthorized calls and messaging. The testers must perform elaborate security testing to ensure that the mobile app is effective in keeping the user data secure despite the presence of Trojan apps and hidden spyware.

Receive Varying User Input

Nowadays developers need to build mobile apps with features to accept information from many sources. Hence, each mobile app receives information from both trusted and unknown sources. The feature makes it easier for hackers to manipulate cookies, environment variables, and similar user inputs. The developers cannot secure the mobile app adequately by validating user input through authentication and authorization. They must use advanced encryption techniques to preventing the hackers from bypassing the security restrictions. It is also important for developers to focus on input validation, encoding the data send to users, and user input data conversion.

Prevent User Abandonment

Several studies show a steady increase in number of users abandoning mobile apps after one use. The developers and testers have to focus extensively on the user experience delivered by the mobile app to prevent user abandonment. The user experience delivered by a mobile app is directly impacted by a number of factors including security features.  Most consumers nowadays use mobile wallets and indulge in mobile commerce transactions. Hence, they prefer using apps that keep their sensitive digitalized information secure and inaccessible. The security testing results will help developers to enhance the app’s user experience by eliminating all vulnerabilities.

Make the App Marketable

With more and more users opting for free apps, it becomes essential for developers to promote their apps aggressively. The developers also need to monetize the app properly to generate revenue despite allowing making it available as a free app. When the mobile app is 100% secure, it becomes easier for marketers to impress prospective users and increase downloads. Also, the robust security features of the mobile app will help the marketers to collect positive user reviews and feedback. The developers must perform elaborate security testing to make the app marketable and monetize it properly.

Protect the App Continuously

There are many instances when large companies have to shut down their mobile apps temporarily due to targeted malware attacks despite investing in expensive security tools. But the testers can use a variety of tools to assess the security and vulnerability of a mobile app comprehensively. They can use the tools to perform static, dynamic and forensic mobile app security testing. At the same time, the testing tools further make it easier for software QA testing professional to perform a variety of security tests regularly. So a business can assess the security of its mobile app during various stages of development and deployment to address complicated threat models effectively.

However, each enterprise must deploy skilled security testing professionals to obtain more reliable test results. Likewise, it needs to invest in robust security and penetration testing tools to accelerate the security testing process. But the enterprise must perform elaborate security testing to keep its mobile app marketable, prevent user abandonment, and generate revenue over a longer period of time.

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