Automate mobile app security testing is the most ideal way to increase the effectiveness, efficiency, productivity, and test coverage.
According to the Ponemon Institute, 29% of mobile applications are released to the public without any proper user and vulnerability testing. Providing unsecure applications to the public will put an end user’s data at risk allowing malicious attackers to steal. Although encryption can be used on stored and in-transit data would be a secure way to communicate, still encrypted data can also be decrypted using modern tools and techniques. Few identified challenges when we automate mobile application security testing are discussed below.
Integration of multiple applications
Common security flaws can be found in the integration of numerous applications to one another. The connection point between two applications was fetching data from one application to another needs to be implemented and tested correctly. Best practices that widely put into implementation is that isolation and consistent architecture on individual apps.
Insecure communication channel
All most all mobile applications are using sort of network commutation to provide services or to operate its features. These communications can be vulnerable to third parties unless they have not encrypted. Although data encryption used in end-user, most of the applications do not support an end to end encryption, which will be a vulnerable point.
Executable installation and execution
As malware-based attacks have emerged, execution policies and installation policies on an application and a mobile device is a concerned security feature that looks in to. Mobile apps allow users to download, share, and install different files. Among them, pictures, videos, and documents are standard file formats. Malicious parties can take advantage of these features built into apps. As an example, a malicious file can be sent through a mobile application to be saved on the local system, which behaves as a Trojan to steal sensitive data.
Single sign-on is a user authentication mechanism used by most web and mobile applications today. By using a single sign-on service, the user would be able to sign in to multiple applications without credentials (entering username and password) every time they log in to. SSO service will authenticate end-users for all applications. To use service or information on remote server credentials will be required. By authenticating through common services like email functionalities, malicious parties might get access to sensitive information without any hassle.
Going back to the past few years above, discussed security risks in mobile applications used manual testing for its application. Conducting of manual testing involves building user testing cases as per implemented features and functionalities of the application. A typical approach might be included following test scenarios.
Navigating through app features
This phase contains manually navigating through application functionalities to identify crashing points if there are any. This phase will be more time-consuming and need to have a thorough understanding of the applications, mainly if the application is integrated with other applications, as discussed above.
Also, this can be called as input validation of the applications. All applications are taking some data to perform the task and provide its service. Malicious attackers can input data in different aspects that will lead to a vulnerability in a device. The threat model phase, like the installation of the application on the rooted or compromised device, will also provide an application isolation viewpoint from the device perspective. Attacks like code execution can be highly complicated to identify. To address these sorts of attacks testing parties need to develop robust control structures in the application. To carry out behaviors, testing parties need to put much effort into securing the application. One drawback of this is the chance of leaving unpatched and not identified security flaws can be higher in tradition manual testing.
Automation in application testing
Automation is a technique that is widely used in most industries to produce reliable processes and procedures in each field. Automation provides productivity, improved robustness, a decrease in human testing hours. One of the biggest concerns in the application is to have strong coding. Can we automate the mobile app security testing? Automation tools like SonarQube provide code auditing. SonarQube supports several programming languages to code review. SonarQube is an open-source platform that supports automatic code reviews, static analysis, detected bugs, and common vulnerability. This leaves a security analyst timeframe to identify security flaws at a deeper level and also bugs that might get unnoticed.
There are two main categories of analysis as static and dynamic analysis. Static analyze only access source codes and will provide primary and well-known risks. Since it allows for a lower level of analysis, the dynamic analysis would be best practice need to follow. In dynamic analysis, functionalities such as providing user input, navigating through application features, connecting to remote servers or services can be performed in a broader context.
App-Ray is a tool used to test the user interface of an app. It can create functional UI test cases for all Android applications and also supports compatibility for all versions. App-Ray is also an automation tool that supports not even Android and iOS devices and applications. Although automated tools provide overall weak points, authorized testing parties still need to create custom testing templates that suit for individual apps. Another functional testing can be carried out through automation scripts. Quality Assurance teams hold automation and testing of applications. Although automation has pros in testing, it also holds a few challenges in testing, such as false positive and negative rates and reporting. From the perspective of reporting, responsible parties need to understand the underlying concepts of identified security flaws.
Since automation provides results either pass and fail, other teams such as development have to have knowledge in security risk raised. To address this reporting should be documented in a way with identified security risk, actions to be taken, and best practices. To accomplish the demand for the development process, there are plenty of mobile automation testing tools in the market which can assist with the team to test different parameters of the mobile application behavior, performance, security, etc. Automation testing the most ideal way to increase the effectiveness, efficiency, productivity, and test coverage.