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What types of security controls and measures should be assessed during a mobile app penetration test?

icon Posted by: Praveen Joshi
icon May 31, 2023

In Brief:

Why Is It Important to Pen Test Mobile Apps?

Pen testing, also known as penetration testing, is essential for mobile apps for a number of important reasons. First and foremost, mobile apps have incorporated a variety of sensitive functions and personal data into our daily life. Mobile applications have become important targets for cybercriminals. It is due to the growing reliance on them for financial transactions, social interactions, and access to private information. Pen testing mobile apps enables the discovery of flaws and vulnerabilities in the infrastructure, code, and design of the application. Security professionals can evaluate the app’s robustness. They can eventually decide whether the app can withstand malicious attempts by replicating actual attack scenarios. This procedure aids in identifying potential entry points that cybercriminals can use to compromise user data or obtain unauthorized access. Regular pen testing help developers and organizations proactively find security weaknesses. Hence, they can fix them before hostile actors take advantage of them. This procedure improves user confidence, protects private information, and supports the app’s and its creators’ good names.


of Android applications are vulnerable to at least one out of 25 listed security weaknesses in the Android operating system.


of applications with more than five million downloads include a security vulnerability.


of all applications present on the Google Play Store have security flaws.


of organizations sacrificed mobile security in 2019.

Security Control and Measure to Address During Mobile Application Penetration Testing

While penetration testing mobile applications, various security controls and measures should be thoroughly assessed to ensure comprehensive coverage. The following points outline the key areas that should be evaluated:

1. Authentication and Authorization

  • Analyze the robustness of the user authentication techniques, such as two-factor authentication (2FA), biometrics, and password rules.
  • To guarantee that users can only access the relevant capabilities and data based on their roles and privileges, evaluate the authorization controls.

2. Data Storage and Encryption

  • Examine how private information, such as login passwords, identifying information, or financial information, is saved on the device.
  • Analyze the use of encryption techniques to safeguard data while it is in transit to servers or stored locally on a device.

3. Secure Communication

  • Assess the network communications’ security, taking into account the use of secure protocols (such as HTTPS and SSL/TLS) and adherence to data transmission best practices.
  • Examine how server certificates are handled, how server identities are verified, and how man-in-the-middle attacks are avoided.

4. Session Management

  • Examine the app’s user session management procedures and confirm that session tokens or cookies are adequately safeguarded against loss or manipulation.
  • Examine session timeout controls to avoid unauthorized access in the event of device loss or inactive sessions.

5. Input Validation and Data Sanitization

  • To guard against typical vulnerabilities like SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), or command injection, evaluate the app’s input validation measures.
  • To avoid undesired behaviors or code execution caused by malicious input, evaluate the sanitization of user input.

6. Secure Code Practices

  • Check the app’s underlying code for security flaws like buffer overflows, unsafe data processing, or unsafe storage.
  • Examine the application of secure coding techniques, such as input validation, output encoding, and proper cryptography library usage.

7. Error Handling and Logging

  • Examine the app’s handling of faults and exceptions to avoid data leaks that could help attackers.
  • To make sure that no sensitive data is captured and that logs are properly secured, evaluate the logging mechanisms.

8. Secure Offline Storage:

  • Review how the app protects sensitive data stored locally, such as cached data or offline data synchronization.
  • Assess the use of encryption, secure key storage, or data obfuscation techniques to prevent unauthorized access.

9. Push Notifications and Background Services

  • To avoid spoofing or the introduction of harmful content, evaluate the security of push notification technologies.
  • Examine background services and how they interact with the app to check if they introduce security flaws or disclose private information.

10. Reverse Engineering and Code Tampering

  • Examine the app’s ability to resist reverse engineering, including any obfuscation methods, anti-tampering safeguards, or code integrity checks.
  • To avoid malicious updates or code insertion, assess the update system’s security.

11. Third-Party Libraries and Integrations

  • Check the security of any third-party libraries or APIs that are incorporated into the program to make sure they are up to date and without any known vulnerabilities.
  • Examine the access levels and permissions given to third-party components and restrict their capabilities to what is required.

Before You Go!

  • To get the best results on mobile application penetration testing you need to scan your app thoroughly. Do not leave any corners unattended.
  • You can also ask for help from expert cyber security services.


  • mobile application security
  • mobile penetration testing

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