Is Your Mobile App Cyber-Secure?

Is Your Mobile App Cyber-Secure?

Posted on - Aug 29, 2022 | 3 min read

Is Your Mobile App Cyber-Secure

Crackers, Hackers, Script Kiddies, Ethical Hackers – Familiar words in the software world! While the former three spell danger of various degrees for your apps and IT systems, the last category - Ethical Hacker or White Hat is the “good thief” who is a cyber-security expert invited by organizations and given permission to break into IT systems, in order to carry out security assessments of the system and help the organization ensure security of its digital assets.

Let’s understand a wee bit about the dangerous trio – Crackers, Hackers, and Script Kiddies, since these are the ones that raise eyebrows and blood pressures in software circles. Crackers are people with nefarious intentions who hack a system by breaking into it and violating it for remotely stealing data, or for harming it permanently. Hackers are people with IT skills who use their technical knowledge to access computer systems, networks, and apps without authorization, in order to achieve their goals, or bypass system-driven obstacles. Script Kiddies aka Script Bunnies aka Packet Monkeys are relatively unskilled hackers who use existing scripts, codes, or other tools illegally, to get entry to a computer system or network in order to create a denial of service attack, or to deface the website, or even just for fun.

The pertinent question is: How do we keep the dangerous trio at bay and protect our software systems? This blog will put the spotlight on security of Mobile Apps, and present best practices for organizations to make their mobile apps hack-proof.

Guidelines for Making Your Mobile App Cyber Secure

1. Source Code Encryption and In-built Security Tools

Source code encryption and having in-built tools that detect danger to the app, are good ways of preserving the integrity of your app. Encryption makes the source code unreadable and prevents attackers from breaking into your app and applying reverse-engineering techniques to repack the app and trap unwary customers. In this scenario the Cracker will make a quick buck, while the customer is exposed to danger, and there is the great risk of the organization being brought into disrepute, due to the imitation app being available on app stores, masquerading as the original app. Source code encryption and in-built risk detection tools are important safeguards to prevent this situation.

2. Security Testing

This encompasses full-fledged testing of vulnerabilities, risks, and loopholes in the mobile app to prevent attackers from intrusion. Security Testing includes tests like Penetration Testing, Vulnerability Scanning, Security Scanning, Risk Assessment, Security Auditing, Ethical Hacking, and Posture Assessment. These are briefly explained at the end of this blog. It must be remembered that the threats can come from rank outsiders or even unscrupulous employees, resulting in leakage of information, loss of revenue, loss of reputation, etc. Hence organizations must necessarily leverage security testing tools, techniques, and processes to avert these risks.

3. Data Security During Transmission

Confidential and sensitive data transmitted from the client to the server, needs special attention from the security aspect, as the data in transit is prone to data leakage and theft. To overcome this grave danger, it is advisable to use SSL or VPN tunnels that have robust security protocols to protect user data.

4. File-level and Database Encryption

While retrieving confidential records, Mobile Apps are devised to store the unstructured data in the native file system and/or database within the storage device. The sandbox data lacks the required encryption exposing it to unwanted risks. One way to secure this area is to encrypt mobile app data with Database Encryption Modules such as SQLite, or put in place file-level encryption across all relevant platforms.

5. Consistently Upgrade Your Cryptography Techniques

In the software world, change is the only constant, more so for mobile app security. Crackers and Hackers are sharp minded people who are constantly on the prowl, trying to gain mastery over existing cryptography algorithms. Hence in the interest of your mobile app’s security, it is essential to incorporate the most recent security algorithms at all times. Preferably use cutting-edge encryption techniques like AES with 512-bit encryption, 256-bit encryption and SHA-256 for hashing. Ideally, Manual Penetration Testing and Threat Modeling should also be conducted before the app goes live.

6. Ensure Effective User Validation Systems

It is very important to ensure that user verification systems are extremely robust, as this is where attackers can break in, if authentication levels are low. Ideally the app should accept only strong alphanumeric passwords and also prompt or even mandate users to change their passwords at pre-defined intervals.  The authentication levels needs to be beefed up even more, for apps dealing with sensitive and classified data. In such cases it’s a good idea to use biometric verification of users through fingerprints or eye/face recognition user verification systems.

7. Protect Your Backend Servers

With mobile apps being largely designed on the client-server model, it is vital to ensure the security of the backend servers, as these are responsible for storing and organizing data and ensuring proper working of the app at the client’s end.  Since API authentication and transport mechanisms differ for different platforms, it must be ensured that all APIs relevant to the platform for which your app is coded; are checked and verified. Be cautious not to be a victim of the erroneous belief that only the app that is programmed to access APIs can access the backend server.

8. Keep Sensitive Data Storage to the Minimal and Ensure its Protection

The rather common practice of developers, of storing sensitive data on the device’s local memory, exposes the app to greater risk, and hence it must be avoided as far as possible. However, in exceptional cases where it is necessary to store such data, then do ensure that adequate protection is provided through encryption data containers or key chains. Additionally, put in place an auto delete facility to delete the data logs at pre-determined time frames.

Some of the security measures discussed above relate to the design and development phase of the SDLC of mobile apps. However, it is important for mobile app testers too, to be aware of these requirements which provide guidelines to testers for ensuring the app’s cyber-security. After all, the final sign off of the app’s security lies in the court of the mobile app tester!   

In their quest to diligently certify the app’s cyber-security, testers should leverage the well-established security testing protocols which are listed below.

Types of Security Testing:

  • Vulnerability Scanning: Using automated software to scan a system against known vulnerability signatures.
  • Security Scanning: Manual and automated scanning to pinpoint network and system flaws, and suggest risk mitigating solutions.
  • Penetration Testing: Authorized simulated attacks on the app using the same tools, techniques and processes that attackers would use, in order to analyze a system and check the possible vulnerabilities to an external hacking attempt.
  • Risk Assessment: Analyzing and classifying risks at the organization level and suggesting risk mitigating strategies.
  • Security Auditing: Internal inspection of Applications and Operating Systems and/or line by line inspection of codes to identify security threats and loopholes.
  • Ethical Hacking: Officially hacking the organization’s software systems to eliminate security threats and vulnerabilities.
  • Posture Assessment: A combination of Security Scanning, Ethical Hacking and Risk Assessment to certify the overall security status of an organization.


The forgoing information may seem like a mountain load of responsibility! But you don’t need to get overwhelmed, because there are automated platforms equipped with the latest in technology, to assist you in your app testing efforts. For Mobile App Testing, you’ll find a great partner in BOTm.

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