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App Security Insights

When should you test your Applications Security?

Oct 25, 2017 2:00:00 PM / by AppSolid Team

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When you are building a mobile application, it is essential that you take the necessary steps to test all aspects of it. The internet is an incredibly insecure place and it is very easy for people’s privacy to be compromised if their devices are not properly protected. When it comes to application security, testing isn't a one and done process.

You should be carrying out tests continuously, even after your product is all set up and ready for use. The initial tests are important to ensure that you can avoid any issues that affect your customer later on. You need to make sure that everything is functioning properly according to what you wish the app to do.

Then you will want to be sure that it continues to perform well, that it is well-secured, and how to recover sensitive data in case of a crash or certain unexpected interruptions. In order to know when and how to test your app appropriately, you will first need to fully understand why you need to do so.

In this article we will discuss just these things and what types of testing you should do for your specific product.

Why you Need to Test your Application

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Mobile app testing helps to:

  • Avoid issues when providing and delivering the product to the user
  • Keep continuous prevention methods in place for mistakes or issues that could crash the product
  • The insurance that the product is systematically meeting all of its specified requirements

If you do not keep up with these things, your customer will not be happy. Your customers are very important for the success of your app, and you don't want to upset or dissuade them.

Glitches in your app can occur and you can consequently lose your customers:

  • Users do not want to use apps that take more than 6 seconds to load
  • 80% of people will try to use an app 3 times or less before glitches turn them away
  • 36% of people won’t use an app if it drains their battery too fast
  • 55% will put all the blame on the app for any of it’s performance issues
  • 37% of people think less of the company’s brand that built the app if it crashes or comes up with any errors

In the end, it is just not worth it to not test your app. Do it for the integrity of your product and the protection of your customers.

Key Principles

When you are testing an app, you must consider what your customers expectations are:

  • They want it to look great on whatever screen or device they are using
  • It should operate fast even if the hardware is limited
  • It needs to stand out against the plethora of competition out there

Ensuring the quality standards are met will make all of these things possible, as long you test accordingly.

Automated or Manual Testing

Mobile application testing will need to be done on many devices, platforms, and operating systems. Because of this, it is helpful to setup automated testing to ensure that everything is being covered. In order to determine whether or not your specific app would benefit from automated testing, you need to first consider the type of app that you have built.

Type of Mobile Applications

There are three different types of mobile apps. Whichever type that you have built will make a difference for which tests you would benefit from automating.

Native Apps

These apps are written specifically in line with each mobile platform that the app will be run on. Each device communicates with the app in it’s own specific language, so the tests that are done must take place in the platform’s specific environment.

Web Apps

Web apps are websites that are made to work with mobile screen dimensions. They can run on any mobile platform with the same codebase and do not need to be tested within multiple browsers. This is a good example of when automated testing can be used because they can be executed multiple times over numerous combinations.

Hybrid Apps

Hybrid apps are constructed through techniques like transpilers and web views so they can be installed like native apps, but have the same codebase. This makes testing easier because a majority of the code is being reused across the platforms and the OS-specific container is separately developed. Tests such as these, that are executed across operating systems, are good for automation because they are executed repeatedly.

Application Security Testing

Sophisticated app security programs are made up of a combination of tools that ensure that all of the basics are being covered. Your security coverage should include a toolset that has the ability to deliver:initial-testing-strategy-blog-img.png

  • Automated testing based for coverage - basic coverage should check for improper certificate validation, insecure data storage and the accessibility of personally identifiable information
  • Manual testing on the entire attached surface - developers should have security tools for forensic analysis and data recovery, network analysis, reverse engineering and code analysis
  • Flexible reporting - keeping reporting able to be automated will allow the security team to find things beyond what is uncovered by automated testing

Penetration Testing

Each type of app requires specific kinds of testing practices. No matter what though, it will need to be determined how the data is going to stay protected as it travels across mobile networks.

There is a divide between what is deployed to the mobile device and the data storage that is deployed to the server. To help you get a handle on your specific needs, there are many security softwares out there to help you with testing the security on your mobile app.

The most effective way to cover all of the bases is by using penetration testing. The best way to achieve carrying out such tests is by a third party organization with the proper expertise. They will be able to determine how often and the most sufficient ways to test your app by approaching it as an actual hacker would.

Penetration testing will:

  • Determine the type of threats that may exist concerning your app
  • Identify present vulnerabilities
  • Evaluate how a successful attack could affect your business and those using the app
  • Test the strength of the network defense against such attacks
  • Determine how necessary it is to increase investment in security employment and technology

Apps require regular penetration tests. There should be an automated system installed where penetration tests can be carried out on a carefully designed schedule. Determining how often this should take place may require the help of an expert who can thoroughly assess the risks that your app may face.

How To Organize Testing Your Applications Security

Some smart practices to have in place when it comes to organizing the testing of your app’s security include:

Implementing a formal test strategy. Having a formal strategy will help you speed up and organize your mobile testing process. Having a strategy with guidelines defined by testing professionals will help you to enhance your coverage and bring uniformity to the different tests required for your app.

Test early on and continue consistently. Testing during development will help you to integrate these methods throughout the apps life as well as determine any bugs that could create problems down the road.

Program in security measures at the application layer. Develop security settings and make it so the users have the ability to adjust the settings to their needs and preferences.

Audit data flow. You need a way to be able to follow where your data is going and if it is protected while in transit.

Determine points of entry. You must know if all potential client-side routes into the app are being validated or not.

More wise practices for app developers include:

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  • No storage of sensitive data on the user’s device
  • Not relying on built in key chains
  • Limiting permissions to only the most necessary components required for the app to be able to function well
  • Do not hardcode data within the app
  • Invalidating the user’s session once they have logged out and always automatically log users out once they have been inactive for a certain amount of time
  • Knowing which regulations your app should adhere to and make sure to address them during the design stage
  • Ensuring proper session management
  • Using proper binary protection for buffer overflow and stack overflow attacks as well as jailbreaking

Finding Mobile App Security Software That You Can Trust

Do not waste your time worrying over the many ways that your app could be attacked or how often you should analyze your system.

Mobile app security software has carefully developed processes that provide the most thorough protection you could ask for. The software watches your app’s activity for any sign of potential weaknesses and gives you ongoing protection that will notify you the second that anyone tries to break in.

You will receive detailed reports on the app’s security and how many attempted attacks were discovered and remedied.

In Conclusion

When it comes to the tools you use for your apps’ security, it is most important that the coverage remains consistent. Being rigorous about the testing of your app will help you protect your product and your business’s reputation. It can never hurt to be too thorough.

Leaving loose ends is dangerous, and leaving your product open to the possibility of corruption simply isn't worth it. Protect the integrity of your product by performing regular tests and making sure it’s protected at all times with a good mobile app security program.

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Topics: Application Security

Written by AppSolid Team