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How to Perform Mobile Application Pen Testing

icon Posted by: Hasan Sameer
icon August 22, 2022

In Brief

Why do we need Mobile Penetration Testing?

There are several types of mobile applications such as Native apps, Mobile web apps, and Hybrid apps. Also, there are several platforms such as Android, iOS, and others. This makes the range and variety of threats to these applications extremely widespread. Mobile Application Pen Testing is a comprehensive methodology to map all these threats by scanning the vulnerabilities within the app. Not only for the security vulnerabilities but mobile pen testing also comes in handy to detect functional loopholes as well.


of mobile app users are under misapprehension that their applications are secure from malicious activities.


of two million applications on Google Play Store include at least one security flaw.


plus of android mobile device users still have installed android versions more than two years old.


is the percentage of iOS users who install the latest security updates even after a month of release.

The Procedure of Mobile Application Pen Testing

Mobile Penetration Testing includes the following key steps:

API Penetration Testing

1. Preparation and Discovery

Gathering the required information is an essential process before any penetration testing. Similarly, you need to keep the following things in mind during the preparation and discovery phase of mobile pen testing:

  • Comprehensive knowledge of the design and architecture of the application
  • Understand the network-level data flow of the application
  • Deploy OSINT to fetch and gather data

2. Analysis, Assessment, and Evaluation

When the discovery phase is completed, the tester begins a detailed examination and assessment of the application. This phase includes observation of the application both before and after the installation. The following are the key assessment techniques:

  • Static and dynamic analysis
  • Architecture analysis
  • Reverse engineering
  • Analysis of file system
  • Inter-application communication

3. Exploitation

It is the phase in which the application is checked against simulated attack vectors to check how it will behave when under a real attack. The mobile applications under test are exposed to malicious payloads and the response is noted to determine the resilience of the application functionalities to malicious activities.

4. Reporting

After the exploitation of the application, the entire process is documented along with the key findings. The attacks performed, types of malicious payloads used, damages, risk analysis, and vulnerabilities uncovered, everything features in this report. This helps in taking respective steps further to remediate the issues.

Parameters to Test during Mobile Penetration Testing

The following five are the pointers you need to keep an eye on while Mobile pen testing:

  1. Architecture, design, and threat modeling: It is crucial to understand the architecture of the mobile application before conducting a penetration test on it. It will set the tone for the test and give a clear idea of how to approach further with the pen testing on the application.
  2. Network communication: Most functionalities of mobile applications involve data transfer. This makes your user-sensitive data exposed to hackers. During penetration testing, you must focus on network communication to get hold of how the data travels over networks.
  3. Data storage and privacy: Anything stored in clear text on your application is like a gift for hackers. Applications usually store passwords, API (Application Programming Interface) keys, etc., in clear test format such as Strings.xml file. Hence, you need to take care of these files during penetration testing.
  4. Authentication and session management: In the mobile pen testing process, you must include tests for session management issues. Session must expire on password change and the misconfigured backup codes for multi-factor authentication should be visible. These are a few major areas to focus on in this regard.
  5. Misconfiguration errors in code or build settings: Usually, mobile app developers do not give much attention to the error messages. They develop the application in such a way that no application-related internal information is revealed to the user. Simultaneously, they try to work on debugging messages and error codes.

Top Security Risks to Check for during Mobile App Pen Testing

Mobile pen testing has the prime purpose of uncovering security risks. Key 5 mobile app security risks are as follows:

  • Insecure Data Storage
  • Untrusted Inputs
  • Insecure Communication
  • Insufficient Cryptography
  • Code Obfuscation

Before You Go!

  • Mobile Penetration Testing Keeps away the prevailing security threats from your applications. Various aspects of analysis and distinct tools help in the process to make it a success.
  • The approach for Android Penetration Testing and iOS apps testing is the same but tools and techniques will be different.
  • Always trust an expert service like RSK Cyber Security to ensure a mobile app pen testing with the best results.


  • mobile penetration testing

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