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App Development
8 minutes read

Mobile App Security Testing Tools

by Mario Tatis
App Development
8 minutes read

We use our smartphones for nearly everything these days; this makes mobile app security testing tools very important for mobile app developers. Maybe you think that app security doesn’t apply to your mobile app. After all, you’re not developing a banking or FinTech app. Why does security matter? Security doesn’t end with your mobile app. If your mobile app is vulnerable to attack, you could be putting the information of your users at risk even if they don’t share their information with you. 

If your mobile app has security vulnerabilities, hackers and other bad actors can exploit your app to access sensitive information stored on your user’s phones. In the modern mobile app ecosystem, many apps share information and communicate with one another in order to provide better services and User Experiences. The interconnectedness of mobile apps and constant OS updates lead to an increased risk of security vulnerabilities.

Why is Mobile App Security so Important?

There are billions of mobile apps available between the App Store and the Play Store, and there are billions of mobile devices that are accessing and using these apps every day. Cyberattacks targeting smartphones rose by 50% in 2019, according to the most recently available data. This figure is likely only going to increase as smartphones and mobile apps become more ingrained in and more essential to our everyday lives. Already, many people do most, if not all, of their banking from their smartphones. Cyber attackers want to exploit security vulnerabilities in mobile apps so they can access banking and other sensitive data for financial gain. 

A lot of app development resources are put towards functionality, performance, usability, and load. Sometimes mobile application security testing concerns get lost in the shuffle when businesses are considering other things like time to market. Mobile app security is crucial. This is an aspect of app development that needs to be committed to from day one. Security vulnerabilities could put the information of your users at risk and do irreparable damage to your brand and business

With so much sensitive information being stored on and passing through our mobile devices, mobile app security has never been more important than it is today. App security should be a major priority in your development project, even if your app doesn’t collect sensitive information. 

What Tools are There for Security Testing?

Mobile app security is not the easiest aspect of app development to achieve or maintain. You have to remember that cyber-attacks are constantly evolving. Mobile application security testing is not done once then forgotten about. Security vulnerabilities will present themselves at random times, so your team needs to remain vigilant and do regular app security testing. Luckily, there are a number of great mobile app security testing tools available for development teams to deploy. Some security testing tools will be proficient at testing iOS and Android apps, while others may only focus on iOS or Android security

We’ve put together a list of mobile app security testing tools for you to review. These security testing tools, include: 

  • QARK – static code analysis 
  • MobSF – cross-platform testing 
  • Zed Attack Proxy – penetration testing 
  • iMAS – iOS information security testing 
  • Drozer – Android security testing 

We aim to provide as much pertinent information about each security testing tool as we can. This list is by no means exhaustive. You may find other security testing tools that are better suited to your company or app development needs. You should always keep security at the forefront of your development project and strive to always use the best, most innovative tools to secure your mobile app. 

QARK

QARK is an acronym for Quick Android Review Kit. This valuable Android app development tool was actually developed by the team at LinkedIn. This security testing tool is best suited for static code analysis. QARK runs through the source code and APK files of an Android mobile app looking for security vulnerabilities. When security issues are found by QARK, it presents users with detailed information about the vulnerability and how it can be fixed. What makes QARK a really useful tool is that it also looks for possible loopholes in the code that could be taken advantage of.

Security vulnerabilities are validated by QARK through the generation of ADB (Android debug bridge) commands. ABD is a command-line tool created by Google that assesses mobile app security. ADB can interact with emulators or actual Android devices to search for security vulnerabilities and issues. ADB can also be integrated with Android Studio to take advantage of the real-time monitoring features present in the development environment. 

QARK runs scans on every component of a mobile app and generates detailed reports about possible threats to security or app configuration. If you are working on an Android development project, QARK is an effective security testing tool to use. 

Mobile Security Framework (MobSF)

Mobile Security Framework is an open-source security testing tool. MobSF supports security testing on multiple platforms including iOS, Android, and Windows. This makes MobSF a great security testing tool for cross-platform app development projects. Mobile Security Framework is an automated framework that addresses the security vulnerabilities and loopholes that can present themselves within the web services used by mobile apps.

MobSF allows developers to set up testing environments for their mobile apps, and this security testing tool can also be used to detect and pinpoint security vulnerabilities during the development stages of your mobile app. This security tool is a quick way to perform security analysis on all the platforms you use. Plus, MobSF also supports security testing Web API through API Fuzzer. 

Zed Attack Proxy

This is an open-source mobile app security testing tool that is maintained by the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP). This is one of the most popular security testing tools for mobile apps because it is free to use and actively maintained. Zed Attack Proxy has a full suite of testing features that allow developers to perform automatic scans and manual penetration tests. 

Zed Attack Proxy’s automatic security testing tools are great for finding security vulnerabilities during the development and testing phases of a mobile app project. Automatic security testing features are very easy for developers of all skill levels to use. The manual penetration security testing tools included in Zed Attack Proxy take more skill to wield, but they are very popular among skilled penetration testers because of the precision they offer. 

What makes Zed Attack Proxy really interesting and powerful is that it is actively managed and updated by hundreds of OWASP volunteers who live around the world. Currently, Zed Attack Proxy supports 20 different languages, but you can likely expect more support in the future thanks to the global community of volunteers who help manage it. 

iMAS

This is an open-source security testing tool for iOS app development projects. iMAS is a mobile security framework that is aimed at reducing iOS application security vulnerabilities and preventing information loss. This mobile app security testing tool helps iOS developers:

  • Encrypt app data 
  • Prompt for passwords
  • Prevent jailbreaking 
  • Enforce enterprise security policies on iOS devices

iMAS is great for protecting information. iOS has a few key security vulnerabilities, especially around the system passcode, flash storage, and keychain. iMAS gives developers tools to help secure their iOS apps and mitigate some of the security vulnerabilities present in iOS.

Drozer

Drozer is also an open-source security testing tool. It was developed by MWR InfoSecurity. Drozer is a mobile app testing framework designed to automate many of the complicated tasks associated with Android security testing. Drozer can help development teams be more time-efficient and accurate in their security testing. 

Mobile app developers and security testers can use Drozer to test the security of their apps on emulators or Android devices. Drozer executes codes enabled with Java and is adept at identifying security vulnerabilities that were otherwise hidden. The useful thing about Drozer is that it not only identifies and interacts with security threats, but this security testing tool also provides remediation services too. 

Drozer also allows developers to assume the role of the mobile app and communicate with other apps using Android’s inter-process communication mechanisms. This gives you a better idea of how your mobile app is interacting with other apps in the ecosystem and allows you to identify any security vulnerabilities that may exist in the communication that occurs between apps. 

Final Thoughts on Mobile App Security 

Security is more important today than it has ever been before. A security breach can put the sensitive information of your users, customers, and clients at risk. This can damage your brand image and reputation and cost you time and money in remediation efforts. There are a lot of high-quality open-source mobile app security testing tools available, so there is no reason your development team shouldn’t be running regular security tests. 
If you’re having trouble securing your mobile app or determining which security testing tool is right for your development project, speak with an experienced app development partner.

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