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Mobile Apps: The Importance of Security Testing

Thursday 10 of September, 2020.
Reading Time: 3 minutes.
By Neiger Serrano



We spend a great deal of time on our mobile devices, be it for work or shopping online or getting in touch with one another. Our phones have become an extension of our life, so much so that we handle all kinds of sensitive data on them, such as personal information, medical history, passwords, and more. However, in terms of security, the average user believes it’s enough to password protect their phone, without knowing that this could still leave their sensitive data vulnerable to theft. 

Security testing validates an app’s resistance to attacks from malicious users. It also ensures developers apply security practices when programming. 

To apply adequate security testing for mobile applications, it’s necessary to have a solid strategy as a base. If the latter is not well-defined, the testing work will be insufficient or could result in overlooked security gaps.

The following are some key guidelines that need to be considered when it comes to developing a security testing strategy:

  • Knowing the environment: It’s essential to know which platforms will be used to run the application. The next step implies understanding the vectors an attacker may use on these operating systems. 
  • Creating a list of vulnerabilities: Vulnerability risks vary from one application to another, which means certain guidelines, as well as scale, need to be taken into account during testing. This ensures the most vulnerable elements are covered before the application is released.
  • Developing multiple lines of defense: This involves different testing tools that include static, dynamic, and forensic analyses. When these are applied together appropriately, we may find ways an attacker could hack into the application.
  • Running tests from an attacker’s perspective: ‘Hacking’ our apps opens up a panorama that allows us to better understand their weaknesses and how an attacker may exploit them. 

 

Testing analysis approaches include:

  • Static testing: These do not require the execution of code. The code can be reviewed, as well as the documentation, to follow the flow of the application.
  • Dynamic testing: These require the execution of code. Additional techniques are applied, such as black box and white box, to increase the scope. Due to their nature, it is possible to measure an app’s behavior with greater precision when applying these tests.
  • Forensic testing: These tests analyze artifacts that were set aside while an app was in development; for example, credentials that were saved in configuration files or local databases.

 

In conclusion, it’s important to have an appropriate testing strategy in place to cover all elements related to security and to provide the user with confidence that their data is safe. . Additionally, it’s essential to provide security recommendations for users since they too play a role in the security of their data. The application may be stable and secure but, ultimately, the user is, and will always be, the last line of defense. 

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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  1. Security testing validates an app’s resistance to attacks from malicious users and they ensure developers apply security practices when programming.
  2. Some key guidelines when it comes to applying a good testing strategy include: knowing the app’s environment, creating a list of vulnerabilities, developing multiple lines of defense, and running tests from an attacker’s perspective.
  3. Testing analysis approaches are also very important and should include static, dynamic, and forensic testing.

 

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