A mobile app is vulnerable to a security threat just like any other program. With evolution of a large number of apps that require storing and sharing sensitive data such as bank and credit card information, health related data, and personal ID’s to make transactions. This has made security testing for mobile applications more important. It is essential to identify the threat and figure out how to protect your mobile app against it. Conducting a test without awareness about security is next to impossible.
Most of the mobile apps developed today make use of third-party libraries and codes. The third-party support is generally associated with a form of security threat to which an app is vulnerable. Although the app developer might be aware of these threats, the open source components of the app have the potential to ruin the performance. It can also sink the app in the market even before they actually emerge.
Concern for Enterprise
Gartner reported that in 2015, more than 75 percent of mobile apps would fail basic security tests – in android, iOS and windows platforms as they lack in basic business related security standards. The ramifications are huge for enterprises as the policies are at risk of being violated with sensitive business related data and networks.(1)
App Security Vulnerabilities
The customary practice of using open source codes for non-core differentiating features is widely accepted in the app development process. It saves time and resources over coding for non-essential elements of the app. Hence, developers cannot ignore channelizing third-party codes and libraries as a part of their app development. It is essential to grasp the issues, concerns, and license restrictions associated with the third-party codes to understand the level of security exposure your app is facing. Subscribing to security updates form a broad-based vulnerability database, which points towards the category of security threat applicable to your app, can check for reported security concerns. Unreported security threats relate to technological evolution or proprietary code extensions that can cause serious problems in the application technology.(2)
Security Checklist for Third-Party Open Source Components
The security testing should be conducted more often through automated testing tools. The app developer should be well versed with third-party open source components such as security issues and security ramifications on apps and app users. Competency with third-party codes ensures that the app developer takes the responsibility of security concerns associated with it and prevents hacking by dealing with security flaws or app vulnerabilities.(3)
As technology evolves, so does a new security threat with every new version of the third-party code and library. This creates the essence of remaining up to date with the latest security related information about third-party components.
Security Test Modification
Gartner has stated that the static application security testing (SAST) and dynamic application security testing (DAST) vendors are required to modify their test for mobile applications due to enhanced degree of technological evolution in app development. Security testing evolves to the next level with introduction of behavioral analysis testing to monitor the GUI and background apps to detect risky behavior.(4)
Enterprise apps and the servers connected to mobile devices are continuously tested and secured. A lot of apps are available in the app market, so the obligation of security also rests on consumers and enterprises too.
By downloading apps that have successfully gone through security testing done by specialized and proven security testing vendors ensures that the consumers and enterprises are using apps that are secure. The organizations should test their software and applications effectively across all apps as quickly and frequently as possible. Ignoring this can result in a huge security cost that has to be paid later.
(1,4) Osborne, Charlie. “Majority of mobile apps will fail basic security tests in the future: Gartner.” 15 September 2014. ZDNet Website. 12 March 2015
(2,3) Ville-Veikko, Helppi. “Best Practice #8: Test Security of Your App to Mitigate the Liability and Threats.” 04 December 2013. TestDroid Website. 12 March 2015