Vulnerability Assessment And Mobile Application Security Testing

All over the world companies are going online to create a global presence for their brand and spread their market. At the same time, their online applications are increasingly being targeted by malicious coders. Cyber security has become very critical for every business and they must be vigilant regardless of whether it is manufacturing, infrastructure or industrial organizations. Nowadays, irrespective of the size whether it is a large tech company or an internet giant, every company requires a Vulnerability Assessment program to strengthen their security posture.  Major objective of this program is to minimize organizational risk by limiting or eliminating loopholes, weak spots or basically any vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit.

National Vulnerability Database NIST shows that complexity of the vulnerability landscape has been increased, and as a result, dealing with new vulnerabilities has become difficult for developers. Powerful computer viruses, security loopholes and exploitable bugs are generated frequently. Needless to mention, to shield the applications from all potential cyber-attacks, organizations should have a continuous process. This is where Vulnerability Assessment tools come to rescue. Organizations can reduce application cost and speed development by choosing the appropriate mobile app testing solutions.

Vulnerability Assessment (VA)

Vulnerability Assessment is used to discover and detect threats that are present in an application. A Vulnerability Assessment generally consists of testing for vulnerabilities using a list-based approach which covers basic security flaws including compliance checks for enterprises. This process can be done manually but is usually carried out with the help of an automation tool which makes the process faster. Vulnerability Assessment can be broadly classified into three,

  • Static Application Security Testing (SAST)
  • Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST)
  • API Security Testing (APIT)

Static Application Security Testing (SAST)

SAST is white-box testing and mobile application’s inner workings can be tested with it. SAST tools are used to test application code and it points out code vulnerabilities, evaluates resilience of the code, and in software development life cycle (SDLC), it assists developers to fix code vulnerabilities earlier.

SAST tool helps developers to quickly identify root cause of the issue within the application code. As it is known to discover application code issues, they are often used with Agile and DevOps.

Benefits of using SAST Tools

  • Early detection of vulnerabilities makes it less expensive to fix
  • Exact location of the flaw can be identified and it helps developers to locate flaw and fix them promptly
  • Real-time visibility of threats with a graphical representation is offered and identifies risks like buffer and memory leaks
  • Automation support
  • Follows application developer approach

SAST tool will not analyze apps in a functional point of view, that requires tools to test the application from an attacker’s perspective.

Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST)

DAST is also recognized as black box testing and discovers security vulnerabilities in mobile apps from outside. As it finds run-time vulnerabilities and environmental issues, this tool is being used at the end of the development cycle.  This dynamic testing methodology detects loopholes beyond the application code, by stimulating realistic attacks. DAST examines application behavior by implementing fault injection methods such as XSS, SQL injection etc. to append malicious data to the application.

Benefits of using DAST Tools

  • DAST tools can scan an application for vulnerabilities without its implementation and deployment details
  • Follows hackers’ approach to discover a wide range of vulnerabilities
  • No language dependency
  • Evaluates usage of application resources and memory consumption
  • Entire system and application are in test scope
  • Aware of arguments and function call

API Security Testing (APIT)

APIT tools detect and capture vulnerabilities at all API endpoints. With ample test cases, it ensures all data going in and out of a mobile app is secure from threat actors. These tools analyze web servers, databases, and any other component that interacts with your server automatically for vulnerabilities.

Benefits of using APIT Tools

  • It can capture all APIs and understand what information is being passed on with every endpoint
  • Ensures end-to-end security of all sensitive information
  • Gives a detailed vulnerability assessment report that includes severity, business impact, code location and compliance and regulatory issues
  • Remediation recommendations

Tool-based Vulnerability Assessment Process

VA vs PT

Penetration Testing (PT)

Penetration testing is one of the best ways to thoroughly check your defense perimeters for security weaknesses. Penetration Testing discovers vulnerabilities to determine the possibilities of any unauthorized access or malicious activity. Penetration tests emulate attack on a custom mobile application (iOS and/or Android) and targets to figure out all vulnerabilities within the app, varying from inappropriate sensitive data storage and binary compile issues to  traditional application issues such as username injection or enumeration.

Benefits of using Penetration Testing

  • PT shows your security team in real-time how attack vectors impact the organization
  • Uncovers major vulnerabilities
  • Prioritizes your vulnerabilities
  • Shows you the strengths within your environment
  • Helps you enforce your security strategy
  • Helps train your security team on how to better detect and respond to threats
  • Improves your business continuity
  • Helps your organization align with industry security standards
  • Strengthens customer trust and loyalty

Vulnerability Assessment vs Penetration Testing

VA vs PT

Final Thoughts

Vulnerability Assessment (VA) and Penetration Testing can collectively uncover most of the security vulnerabilities of mobile applications and both serve different purposes. It provides a more comprehensive application evaluation to organizations than any single test alone. Moreover it gives a more detailed view of the threats faced by mobile applications of an organization. It also enables the business to better protect its systems and data from malicious attacks.

Looking forward to your comments.

Author Details

Sajin Somarajan

Sajin is a Solution Architect at Infosys Digital Experience. He architects microservices, UI/Mobile applications, and Enterprise cloud solutions. He helps deliver digital transformation programs for enterprises, by leveraging cloud services, designing cloud-native applications and providing leadership, strategy, and technical consultation.

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