A 2022 priority: Automated mobile application security testing

The use of mobile devices has skyrocketed in the past two years and with it the mobile app market. It’s predicted mobile apps will generate more than $935 billion in revenue by 2023.

mobile application security testing

Areas with growth potential, unfortunately, often attract the attention of threat actors looking to exploit vulnerabilities for financial gain. That’s why mobile app security has become a critical area of focus across industries – especially if the organization has an app that contains valuable intellectual property (IP) or has sensitive data passing through it.

Implementing security measures throughout the app development process and continuing to monitor the app once it’s released into the wild is what ultimately keeps your mobile app secure and your business safe.

Mobile application security testing will be a priority for any organization with a mobile app in 2022. To understand why, let’s look at the typical security threats mobile apps encounter and the impact these threats can have on an organization.

Mobile application security threats

Mobile applications are susceptible to some unique threats.

Consider, for example, the MATE (man-at-the-end) attack vector. An attacker can load a mobile application on their local device and then use specialized tools and resources to inspect and reverse engineer the application. This gives them access to the “secret sauce” of how the app runs.

Other mobile app security vulnerabilities include insecure data storage, security misconfigurations, and insecure communication, all of which align to the OWASP Top 10 mobile risks list. Without multiple layers of protection, your application can easily fall victim to a variety of threats.

Though mobile app security threats can range in severity and sophistication, the outcome is often the same: data leakage, theft of IP, loss of revenue, and loss of customer trust. That’s why mobile app security needs to be a focus at every stage of the mobile app development lifecycle.

Enter mobile application security testing

When mobile app security includes frequent testing to obtain real feedback, mobile app developers are better prepared to identify and mitigate mobile app security threats and vulnerabilities.

Mobile app security testing is the process of scanning your app to identify potential security issues that could impact your mobile application. Though specific needs for app scanning may vary, whether driven by compliance or in response to a security incident, the goal is to effectively harden the application and mitigate risk.

There are two ways to think about testing an application: static analysis and dynamic analysis. Though both are uniquely effective, when combined, they can substantially increase the security posture of your mobile app.

Why penetration testing won’t cut it

Traditionally, mobile teams have leaned on pentesting as a preferred form of mobile app testing. Though an effective security assessment approach — pentesting can identify the absence of code hardening and anti-tampering protection — it doesn’t always work in the fast-paced world of mobile app development.

Pentesting is expensive and slow. The findings are usually shared with the development team outside the actual software development process, sometimes months later. This often requires the organization to make a tough decision: Is it more important to publish the app on time or address the risks identified?

If the risk is determined to be manageable, the feedback may not get implemented. But if the risk is high enough, development teams will need to drop everything to fix it, causing a ripple effect into the development and release of new app features. It’s easy to see how this process can put security teams and mobile app development teams in opposition to each other.

This also emphasizes the importance of identifying and selecting a security testing tool that is designed specifically for mobile applications and built for developers. A developer-friendly mobile security tool offers actionable feedback that better aligns development and security teams.

Automated app security testing and why it will be a priority

In a world where organizations are tasked with constant innovation to meet their customers’ rapidly changing demands, organizations can’t risk the fallout of an unsecured app.

In 2022, we anticipate app security testing will likely become a responsibility of the mobile app development team, done through the support of automated tools. This makes the testing process cost-effective and manageable, so development teams get frequent and regular feedback on the security of a mobile app. An added benefit? An automated testing tool enables developers to conduct mobile app testing as frequently as they want (or need) to, setting the team up for an efficient, successful external assessment or pen test.

Mobile apps are increasingly becoming the main way users interact with businesses. Prioritizing application security scanning in 2022 will enable organizations to take proactive steps to prevent data leakage, IP theft, loss of revenue, and reputational damage.

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