12 Mobile Application Penetration Testing Tools And Services

9/29/23 8:00 AM  |  by RedLegg Blog

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Most smartphone users download and install a number of apps every year. On average, a smartphone has about 80 apps for everything from banking to call cabs, from food deliveries to music and social media platforms. It's now common to use personal devices for work. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is a trend that’s being adopted in many organizations. 

With so many devices continuously connected to the internet, the cyber threat landscape has grown exponentially. A security breach in even one of these apps can divulge sensitive user data to hackers. 

Read on as we explore the importance of mobile app security testing and discuss some of the most popular penetration testing tools, services, and best practices. RedLegg's application security testing services offer you a tried-and-true process to secure your mobile app at any stage during its lifecycle.

Understanding Mobile Application Vulnerabilities

Smartphones contain sensitive user data such as personal information, financial details, and login credentials that cyber threat actors want to access for malicious reasons.

Nearly 50% of mobile apps don't follow the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) Mobile Top 10 standards for secure data storage.

A 2018 report by WhiteHat Security revealed that around 85% of mobile applications have at least one vulnerability on initial deployment.

Here are some of the common vulnerabilities we observe in mobile apps:

  • Insecure data storage that leaves security gaps that may be vulnerable to data leakage
  • Weak authentication mechanisms that can allow unauthorized access by malicious actors
  • Inadequate encryption that makes apps vulnerable to client-side injection
  • Weak server-side controls that don't provide adequate security 

Maintaining a secure software development lifecycle (SDLC) is critical. It is essential to conduct vulnerability scanning and penetration testing both before and after app deployment. 

Want to learn more about mobile app security? 

Check out this article on 5 Foundational Mobile App Security Facts.

The Importance of Penetration Testing in Mobile App Security

Security vulnerabilities are present in over 90% of mobile apps. And the frequency and severity of app data breaches is growing. 

Penetration testing during app development, after deployment, and ongoing or continuous monitoring is a necessity today. 

Testers use various techniques for mobile app security, including application mapping, simulations of client, network, and server attacks, reverse engineering of code, decryption, and file analysis. 

Pen testing tools identify and fix vulnerabilities, protect data, and secure them without compromising functionality. They can detect problems such as unsafe coding practices, hardcoded credentials such as passwords and API keys, and insecure data storage.

Read more in our ultimate guide to Pen Testing:

The Ultimate Pen Testing Breakdown and its Role in Your Security Posture

Penetration Testing Tools and Services for Mobile Apps

We've curated a list of 12 reliable and effective penetration testing tools and services for assessing and securing mobile applications at every stage of the development lifecycle. 

RedLegg Cybersecurity and Pen Testing Services

RedLegg provides a full suite of security solutions, including advisory services, managed security services, application assessments, and penetration testing

Our mobile application assessments include a functional review, vulnerability analysis, risk analysis, scoping, and threat analysis.

  • Manual + automated testing solution with detail-oriented, actionable results
  • Tried-and-true testing framework
  • Unique threat model created for your organization 
  • Secure your app at any stage during its lifecycle
  • Guided by community-driven best practices
  • Access to an expert testing team 

We comply with best practices from various frameworks, such as the Open Source Security Testing Methodology (OSSTM), OWASP, and Penetration Execution Standard (PTES), to reduce the likelihood and impact of a breach.

With RedLegg's mobile application security assessment, you're assured of high-quality results and detailed corrective actions. 

Here are some other testing tools to secure mobile apps:

Burp Suite: An app vulnerability scanning platform that's popular with testers—from the company that pioneered Automated OAST (out-of-band application security testing). 

  • Replicates actions of a skilled manual tester
  • Crawls even JavaScript-heavy apps
  • Exposes a large range of existing app vulnerabilities
  • Uses location fingerprinting techniques that make crawling more efficient
  • Maximizes coverage; minimizes false positives

Overall, Burp Suite is a great platform to protect against zero-day vulnerabilities.

Zed Attack Proxy: A GitHub 1000 project, Zed Attack Proxy or ZAP is a free-to-use, open source vulnerability scanning app that is actively maintained by tons of volunteers from around the world.

  • Based on "Man in the middle proxy," it is a firewall between the browser and the app.
  • Can be used as a standalone app or as a daemon process
  • Provides automated scanning as well as manual tools to find vulnerabilities
  • Active mode: Sends proof-of-concept (PoC) malicious requests to the app and analyzes responses for potential vulnerabilities
  • Passive mode: Analyzes every response during normal scanning for the same vulnerabilities as active scanning but does not send PoC requests.

If you're new to testing, ZAP is an excellent place to start, as it provides comprehensive documentation and extensive community support.

Nikto: Nikto is a free-to-use, open source, vulnerability scanning tool.

  • Performs over 6000 tests on each app it scans
  • Can test for security vulnerabilities and server misconfigurations
  • Identify forgotten scripts, installed software, and other vulnerable points in the app
  • Makes over 2000 HTTP GET requests to assess the effectiveness of Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS)

Nikto is a command line scanner and lacks a GUI interface. A point to note is that even though it's a free tool, you'll have to pay for the data files that contain information about which exploits you have to look for. 

Micro Focus: OpenText has recently acquired Micro Focus. The Micro Focus Fortify on Demand (FoD) is an application security testing tool that supports continuous monitoring.

  • Covers in-depth mobile app security testing, open-source analysis, and vendor application security management
  • Analyze vulnerabilities and recommended steps for fixing or remediation
  • Removes false positives; security experts can manually review test results
  • Provides support to run app security testing without additional infrastructure or resources

Additionally, Fortify WebInspect, an automated DAST solution, provides complete vulnerability detection.

Apart from these 5 mobile app security testing tools, there are others:

Kiuwan: A SaaS-based static-source-code analytics platform with a distributed engine. It provides seamless security as part of the DevOps process without needing analysis on central servers.

QARK: Quick Android Review Kit, an open source project, is a static-code analysis engine designed to recognize potential vulnerabilities for Java-based Android apps.

Android Debug Bridge: ADB is a command-line tool to communicate with Android devices. You can install or debug apps using a Unix shell.

Codified Security: A static-code analysis tool, it allows pre-release security testing of mobile apps. It supports multiple platforms such as Java, Xamarin, PhoneGap, and more and complies with OWASP, PCI-DSS, and HIPAA regulations.

Drozer: Veracode's application security solution is a unified platform that assesses app security throughout the development cycle and provides developer tools, including API and workflow integrations.

Drop us a line if you'd like to discuss mobile app security testing in more detail and understand the capabilities of these and other tools and services for mobile app penetration testing.

Best Practices for Mobile App Security and Penetration Testing

An estimated 60% of organizations reporting data breaches say they can tie a security incident directly to an insecure mobile app.

A potential data breach due to an unsecured mobile app can prove costly in terms of potential privacy, legal, reputation, and financial consequences. 

How do you ensure that your code is clean, your app is secure, and your data is protected?

Follow best practices to stay ahead of emerging threats and ensure your mobile app's security.

  • Conduct app security testing regularly to identify and fix any new vulnerabilities.
  • Sensitize development teams to follow secure coding practices during app development, mandating them if necessary. 
  • Ensure your dev teams use secure libraries and frameworks and implement secure authentication.
  • Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) where feasible.
  • Ensure that you install the latest security patches and updates.
  • User Input Validation must be performed on both the client-side and server-side to prevent common vulnerabilities such as SQL injection and XSS.
  • Implement robust encryption techniques to protect data stored in your app's database and stringent access controls to restrict unauthorized access to stored data.
  • Pick the right mobile penetration testing tools. Use a combination of automated and manual testing techniques to cover a wide range of potential security issues. 

Learn more about mobile and app assessment testing by watching this webinar:


RedLegg: Strengthening Mobile App Security Through Penetration Testing

In recent times, there has been a spate of mobile app security incidents that are giving sleepless nights to every business with an app out there.

With cyber threat actors lurking at the edge of every network, you can't afford to leave your mobile app unsecured.

How do you know your network is at risk? Watch out to see if your application assessment is missing these 7 components: Read here.

RedLegg's application security testing services help you discover how an attacker may bypass your application's security and access sensitive data.

If you'd like to get more information about RedLegg's penetration testing engagements, click here.

Better still, connect with RedLegg and start a conversation with our cybersecurity experts for a comprehensive discussion on vulnerability scanning and pen testing to secure your mobile app throughout its SLDC.

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