Mobile application security malware threats and security requirements

The evolution of smartphones has simplified our lives. You can connect with friends, family, banking, paying bills, or booking movie tickets online, etc. However, it also makes smartphone users and service providers affected by mobile application security threats. It could be a threat to resources or personal information. Smartphone users and app developers need to be smarter to minimize risk. However, most people using smartphones are not tech-savvy. Therefore, please follow the mobile application testing and mobile application security assessment to ensure security.

Mobile application security

You can have some security gateways or perform other operator security, but without an effective mobile application security testing methodology and tools, you are still in danger. 

Typical mobile application security risks

For a tester, updating and grasping common security flaws will be very helpful in figuring out the test method to apply to be able to detect the most mobile application security issues in the service. With a developer, it will be somewhat limited programming errors that affect the application.

Most security problems are the result of carelessly introduced defects in software development, developer programming bugs. The following are common security flaws on mobile apps:

  • Improper Platform Usage: Famous mobile application security vulnerabilities. It is possible that security holes in libraries, plugins, modules, etc. of the platform using no security control. It could be Android’s intent to allow the use of TouchID, Keychain, or some other security control that is part of the mobile operating system.
  • Weak Server Side Controls: These are server vulnerabilities that are targeted to the user but not on the phone. Experience has shown that a number of factors have resulted in an increase in server-side vulnerabilities.
  • Insecure Data Storage: Insecure data storage of sensitive data on mobile devices.
  • Insufficient Transport Layer Protection: Mobile applications can operate in many network environments with high risks of security, so the encryption of the transport layer (Transport layer) in SSL / HTTPS is of great interest. Implementing transport-layer encryption can make it difficult to test emulators or simulations from real devices.
  • Unintended Data Leakage.
  • Weak Authorization and Authentication: Includes unauthorized access to another user’s account; lack of information verification when requested; allows users to generate weak passwords – or not using a password could result in an account cracking app vulnerability.
  • Broken Cryptography: The encryption is broken or has no encryption.
  • Client-Side Injection: Injecting malicious code, such as comments, can be pushed onto the application and otherwise vulnerable to disclosure.
  • Security Decisions Via Untrusted Inputs.
  • Improper Session Handling: Incorrect session handling or weak session management.
  • Lack of Binary Protections.
  • Extraneous Functionality: Unrelated function error.

Usually, programmers often add hidden functions or internal development security controls that are not intended for release in a production environment. For example, a programmer may accidentally leave a re-commented password in his code. Or during the test, the programmer disabled authentication.

The vulnerabilities in each type of application will be different, so you need to do mobile application security testing for the different parts of the application. Different mobile application security risks need to be weighed in order to present some of the ones used during testing to ensure that the riskiest issues are avoided prior to release.

Mobile application security checklist

Mobile application security testing includes procedures similar to normal security testing:

  • Threat Profiling: Collects data streams exchanged between the mobile device and the server to find out the risks of compromising data security issues such as confidentiality, credit integrity and server availability.
  • Test planning.
  • Testing: Performing test functionality of the application in an automated analysis environment. Perform manual testing of features that the automated analysis program cannot perform based on vulnerability groups and test criteria.
  • Report.

Mobile application security and penetration testing

To avoid the risk of a security vulnerability, an essential solution for application developers is to conduct Penetration testing mobile applications. Mobile app Pentest may provide us with certain confidential information, but this test also requires alternative approaches and settings other than the use of apps. Here are 6 best practices that can help you fight mobile hackers with penetration testing.

Prepare a security audit plan

The first challenge of mobile app pen-testing is to have a precise approach: the OWASP iOS map shows an overview of the attack vectors.

Map for OWASP iOS that shows an overview of the attack vectors.

The map contains specific areas used for evaluation. There is one essential technique for each critical attack phase:

  • Application mapping ⇒ Information gathering.
  • Client attacks ⇒ Analyze runtime, binary, and file system.
  • Network and server attacks ⇒ Network analysis and insecure data storage.

A specific set of mobile application security testing tools and skills are required for each section. To see which operating system is under attack, you must look closely at the type of mobile application, because each computer has a different attack vector. For example, a pure iOS app uses Objective-C or Swift, meanwhile, browser-based applications or hybrid applications that apply the technology of traditional web applications are built to run on the device’s web browser.

The main difference in analyzing mobile applications compared to web apps is binary and file system analysis. At this stage, it requires skills to reverse engineering and use debugging techniques.

Prepare the pentest environment for mobile applications

Preparing the test environment is another stage in testing mobile applications. Mobile apps are not the same as web apps because they don’t run on all types of platforms and browsers. Therefore, it needs a specific device-driven test environment to be configured.

For the case of iOS devices, the tester should use the evasi0n7 jailbreak which allows you to break into the device and have root access to the operating system instead of having to jailbreak the device and then give the level of security specified by Apple. For Android devices, a tester will use the One Click Root app for Android to be able to root a device.

Building an inventory of tools for attack testing

Building an inventory of tools for attack testing is essential for analyzing and gathering target information when the device is ready for penetration testing. Cydia is an iOS app store for jailbroken devices that allows downloads of essential hacking tools. Debuggers, Decryptersare, and other tools help you understand the application mechanics.

For Android devices, we can use Android Apotool and Android Reverse Engineering as emulators to perform binary analysis. Moreover, you can also use a lot of tools like Burp Proxy, Android Proxy, OWASP ZAP, Wireshark, and Tcpdump for network analysis.

Customer Attacks: Analyzing binary files and files

In mobile app pentest, the tester applies binary and file analysis to detect insecure API calls and files with full access control. There are several tools to find unsafe files like IDA Pro or Hopper App that can help with debugging and code analysis. But in this case, it should not be used to get rid of the Cache Overflow error.

Furthermore, the tester uses application fuzzing tests or applies malicious input techniques to find vulnerabilities such as the SQL injection technique. Most of the techniques used to find vulnerabilities in native applications are similar to web application pentests, however, instead of using a proxy to understand the inner workings of the application, the tester should use debugging software.

Additionally, some of these techniques involve the same test methods as in the OWASP test guide. Instead of being supported by using an attack proxy to insert malicious input during web application pentesting, mobile app pentesting only needs a tool like iOKit to assist it.

To assess the risks associated with data storage on iOS and Android, the tester applies the database browsing feature by traversing the SQLite database to identify that database as to how. If it is encrypted, finally you need to verify the type of encryption used in the sensitive data areas. In addition, it uses analyzing the appropriate storage location of the API key chain and access control to test customer attacks.

Customer Attacks: Analyzing binary files and files

Network attacks: Traffic settings, traffic running

For mobile applications with clear layer architecture, the tester should be attentive to network attacks. So, investigating network attacks is about capturing network traffic and learning about the transport layer protection with the help of attack proxies like ZAP. This process requires more effective testing, such as:


Authentication-related vulnerabilities can be identified by observing the request and response between the client and the server. If it uses basic HTTP authentication in the app, then it is risky. In this case, authentication should be transferred over SSL.


The spoofing parameter cannot include the role and control access between them. In addition, file analysis (native application) or application information gathering (web-based application) cannot include proper API Key protection in an inaccessible directory.

Session management

Session ID numbers are sent via the GET methods and placed in the URL visible during the application proxy setup or network monitoring. Mobile applications often have vulnerabilities in encryption and protocols. Therefore, the inspector should catalog wireless vulnerabilities related to the encryption protocols used by the device.

Server penetration test

In this section, the tester uses the Nmap tool and other penetration tests to inspect the infrastructure, the mobile web application host, to map and find the vulnerabilities and potential threats. Furthermore, the test area should include random file upload, cross-origin resource sharing, or open redirect to ensure that threats are kept. latency at the lowest level.

Another point of concern is to prevent conducting attacks that attempt to bypass authentication mechanisms between the client and the server. So a tester should pay attention to it when doing a test on a mobile app or web-based.

Mobile application security malware threats and defenses

Malvertising – Harmful advertising

Malvertising – malicious advertising is a common scourge of the 21st century. The premise is very simple, you are provided with malicious advertising through the official channel. You don’t expect a malicious attack through a legitimate application, so they trap users by surprise.

The typical example for the Android malicious ad application is the Svpeng banking Trojan. Trojans are installed mainly through infectious Google AdSense ads for Android users. You don’t actually have to click on an ad to get infected, just watching it is enough.

Re-release application

Legitimate apps downloaded from an official store have been infected with malware. After that, they were re-released using their official names.

A key feature of app re-publishing is the slight variations in the app’s name. For example, instead of Microsoft Word (the official version of Microsoft), it would be Micr0soft W0rd.

Selling apps

Over time, a legitimate app developer will submit app and sell their valuable app alongside an app with multiple users.

However, no cases have been documented of this particular attack method. It is not uncommon for popular app developers to receive acquisition requests. A similar issue occurred related to Chrome Extensions. The popular Chrome extension, with access to user data, along with thousands of users is a real gold mine.

Mobile application security malware threats and defenses

How can we avoid malware?

  • Only download apps from official app stores and avoid third-party stores to ensure mobile application security verification standard.
  • Check out downloads from reputable and official app developers.
  • Read application reviews. They will give you the necessary information.
  • Always turn on the authentication tool.
  • Be wary of free app suggestions.
  • Update equipment regularly.

Final words

To ensure security is essential to sophisticated network systems on mobile devices, mobile application security solutions need to be systematically and comprehensively built. When there is a security network incident, it is very important to share information, troubleshoot solutions and handle situations. To handle the problem well, it is necessary to build as many attack scenarios as possible and proactively handle the scenario when a real problem occurs.

Also, it should be noted that secure mobility is an in-depth protection process that includes the developers, operators, builds good security infrastructure, and has a dedicated security team for mobile devices.

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