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Why Mobile Devices Need Penetration Testing?

Cyber security 10/09/2020 - 14:53 by Swathi Raju

Mobile Application Penetration Testing

Mobile applications have become an essential part of our lives because our dependency on smartphones has grown so much over the years. However, when it comes to mobile device security, users are not aware of the potential harm and danger associated with it. As per research, 84% of mobile app users tend to believe that their mobile health and financial apps are secure. Mobile applications should undergo penetration testing and the concept of penetration testing is vital in terms of cybersecurity strategy. Security can very well be a false perception as users aren’t aware of how mobile applications are developed and penetration tested. In reality, downloading and installing these mobile applications can very much put you and the organization you are working for, in potential harm’s way and the user might not even be aware of it. How so? The mobile applications that are not tested appropriately may contain security flaws and bugs that put your data at risk.

What is Mobile Application Penetration Testing?

There is a vast range of mobile applications available for both Android and iOS, as the growth of mobile applications is increasing. Google Play Store has around 2.56 million apps and the iOS App Store has 2.2 million apps in its inventory. As we all know, every action has an equal and opposite reaction; mobile ransomware is growing around 415% each year. The reality check is terrifying, however, with proper tools and methodologies every organization shall very well remain secure from being prone to malware exposure. To safeguard your organization’s mobile applications and your customers against any potential cyber-attacks or risks, we recommend a cybersecurity strategy to conduct penetration testing regularly. Mobile device penetration testing is an effective practice to maintain security consistently.

Penetration testing should be performed strictly and by a professional only. As per research, 23% of organizations have a shortage of penetration testers and in such cases, who is conducting the pen tests and how it is done is very critical.

Mobile security is also an important aspect to be considered as mobile devices fall under company assets too. Employees inevitably use their personal mobile and company mobile devices for official purposes. Company data is at stake in that scenario. So, ask yourself – How do you safeguard your company assets, and how to reduce the risk of company information exposure? Mobile application penetration testing provides visibility to an organization about their network infrastructure and exposes flaws that require patching a remedy or more protection.

What are the attack vectors?

The attack vector, in general, is any tactic or practice used by a hacker to gain access to a device or a network to cause disruption or expose sensitive information. In Cybersecurity, the weak link is the user, and social engineering techniques are enforced by cybercriminals to gain access to devices or networks.

Mobile attack vectors such as;

Malware – The hacker uses the user as bait to gain access to the device. For instance, the user downloads an infected file from the Internet and saves it on the device. The infected file disrupts the OS or modifies an application based on the malware nature. The user is unaware of the entire risk of information exposure and provides control to the hacker to skim through the device's contents.

Data extrusion – This refers to unauthorized data transfer. This can be carried out by a hacker by injecting malicious code. Therefore, sensitive information or company information is accessed by a hacker. This can be performed by someone physically as well. Imagine, a person using a USB stick and copying confidential information just because the user left the device unattended. The data can be transferred to someone outside the organization, thus causing a security breach.

Mobile device misplaced or lost – When your employee loses their mobile device and has not put any security on their mobile device. It would be a piece of cake for any stranger to access stored files and information. If the stolen mobile device is a company asset, then the risk is too severe. In that case, an imposter can pose as your legitimate employee and send emails demanding certain information to another colleague or much worse. Unless the employee reports about the stolen device without further ado.

Many mobile attack vectors will open a backdoor to access your information from your mobile device.

What can a hacker do with a compromised mobile?

With a compromised mobile, data privacy is at risk. The device is susceptible to data leakage and exposure of not only personal information but also any company information that is on the device. Since every smartphone has all the apps stored in it ranging from shopping to financial ones. Once, the hacker cracks off one of your device passwords, then he is capable of making money transactions or purchases online and everything would be done on your behalf. This is called identity theft.

Every smartphone has a camera built. A compromised mobile device can act as surveillance. The hacker can very monitor your daily activities. Using mobile as a surveillance device to his benefit, the hacker can listen to conversations and get ahold of lots of personal and company information without the knowledge of the user.

When the hacker takes control of your mobile device, he can take advantage of leaking information via social media accounts that are always logged in on your mobile device. The hacker can impersonate the user and make decisions to send official emails where the user takes the blame ultimately.

Data theft is a critical outcome when it comes to hacking the mobile device. Over the years, mobile applications made it easy for money transactions, payments, and whatnot. Once the hacker has access to your mobile device, the hacker can access your contact information, confidential information, payment details, and bank account details – where he can contact the bank customer care requesting to make changes to his benefit. Even having authentication to prove user identity falls under the hacker’s jurisdiction.

Does a mobile device need penetration testing?

Of course! The mobile device belonging to an employee that holds company information in one way or another falls under company assets. Mobile Penetration Testing is to be conducted by every organization at regular intervals. This method of mobile penetration testing shows the visibility and security flaws underlying their application source code that might cause potential harm. Conducting penetration testing and patching the security bugs before the deployment of mobile applications can be effective in terms of cybersecurity.

Mobile penetration testing is done using

  1. Black box testing;
  2. White box testing;
  3. Attack vector stimulation; and
  4. Vulnerability reporting

Mobile penetration testing should be performed by an expert Pen Tester or a qualified professional who must provide a report and documentation on the vulnerabilities identified. Post evaluation of the mobile apps, the recommended remedial strategy has to be put forth by your IT team. It is to ensure that a security breach doesn’t happen. Identifying and fixing the security vulnerabilities before and after releasing the mobile application is the best way to remain secure consistently using mobile application penetration testing.

The only way to protect what you’ve worked hard to build is to be vigilant when it comes to cybersecurity. If you’d like to know more about how your business can benefit from managed services, just give us a call, we are here to help.

Mobile applications have become an essential part of our lives because our dependency on smartphones have grown so much over the years.