Why Does Inadequate Mobile Application Security Create a Security Risk for The Organization?
America’s popular banking and personal finance app Dave faced a major mobile application securitybreach in July 2020 when the personal data of its 7.5 million users was stolen. Apparently, a malicious party had gained unauthorized access to its user data after the security breach at its former third-party service provider Waydev. This is not a standalone case. British Airways, 7-11 Japan, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Walgreens among many others have suffered the consequences of mobile app security risks.
CVEDetails.com, a trusted security vulnerability data source has found 2500+ Android vulnerabilities and 1600+ iOS vulnerabilities in the last decade. If this is not enough, these numbers are only increasing every year.
Mobile Application Security Risks
Let’s take you through various mobile application risks that could be detrimental to your organization’s security.
1. Lack of Binary Protection
If your mobile application doesn’t have binary protection, then the hacker can easily analyze, reverse-engineer, or modify the code to inject malware to execute some obscure functionality. Lack of binary protection can lead to theft of confidential data and intellectual property, revenue loss, privacy, unauthorized access, fraud, and brand reputation damage.
2. Unintentional Data Leakage
Operating system bugs, user’s carelessness, or a developer’s accidental mistake could result in the sensitive information of your app being stored on the unsafe locations of the smartphone. If this data becomes accessible to hackers via other apps or devices, then it is an immediate threat to user privacy.
3. Weak Authorization/Authentication
If the users have implemented poor authentication or authorization inputs on their mobile applications, then the cyber offenders can easily take over the control. This usually occurs when the mobile application has a poor password policy which leads to insecure authentication. If the mobile application allows the users to login in the offline mode, it again creates a huge risk.
4. Incorrect Data Storage
This is also among the top mobile app security threats. If the mobile app stores sensitive data such as passwords, pins, or any other personal/financial information without encryption, then this vulnerability can be easily compromised. If the hackers get hold of this data, they can leverage it to their advantage in whatever manner they deem possible.
5. Weak Server-Side Controls
Much to their fault, the mobile developers fail to pay attention to mobile app server security. So, when the communication takes place between the users and mobile apps, then it becomes prone to security risks. This problem arises when the developers must work on a limited budget, are in a hurry to launch the mobile app, or lack expertise in the security controls of the new language. Higher reliance on mobile operating systems for security updates can also be a reason for weak server-side controls.
6. Client-Side Injection
A client-side injection is one among such mobile app security risks where a malicious code is injected on the client-side usually in the form of input data or binary attacks. So, the mobile app is unable to identify this malicious code and processes it in the same way as other data on the user device. So, client-side injection poses more security risks for the users rather than the server.
Formulating a Robust Mobile Application Security Strategy
1. Conduct a Mobile Application Security Audit
It is necessary to do continuous mobile application security assessments during and after the development stages. Test the app in different scenarios and for hidden backdoors on multiple devices and operating systems. This will ensure that a majority of malware and vulnerabilities are eliminated before it reaches the users.
2. Deploy the Updated Cryptography Techniques
The security algorithms for source codes and data security keep changing at regular intervals. Hence, it is advisable to use modern encryption techniques such as 256-bit encryption and SHA-256.
3. Use Trustworthy Third-Party Libraries
Unless you are using time-tested and proven solutions, it is better to stay away from open-source libraries. At the same time, closed-source libraries may be secure, but you need to check whether it is suitable for your mobile app. Weigh the pros and cons before choosing the right one.
4. Implement Multi-Layer Authentication Levels
There is no harm in tightening mobile application security by incorporating additional layers. It includes a combination of time-based OTP, SMS, e-mail, pushes notification, or finger scans.
These tips barely scratch the surface of mitigation of mobile application risks. You need a much more comprehensive solution to cover all aspects of security. You can partner with reputed mobile app security companies like Indusface which offer SaaS-based dynamic Mobile Application Scanning (MAS) testing. Some of the features of MAS are:
- On-demand application scanning
- OWASP Top 10 detection
- Multiple platform coverage
- Penetration testing
- Insecure permission detection
- Remediation guidance
- Flexible and comprehensive reporting
With smartphone ownership and demand for mobile apps growing rapidly, the security threats to your mobile applications are as real as they can get. Make sure you secure your mobile app from all ends.