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Our Mobile Application Pentesting Methodology Summary
mobile application penetration testing

Mobile Application
Pentesting Methodology
of Security for Everyone

Mobile Application Risks

What are The Mobile Application Risks?

1
Data Breach

Your users trust you and your brand with their data. The biggest problem for your company would be leak of data.

2
Legal Issues

You can be the subject of different punitive sanctions according to the regulations of your country.

3
Reputational Damage

Reputational damage may result in loss of trust in your company. Also, It causes loss of customers and finances. Recovery can be challenging.

4
Service Outages

If cyber attackers exploit some specific vulnerabilities, it may lead to service outages. In addition, it is much more costly to recover a system after a successful attack than finding and fixing vulnerabilities beforehand.

5
Data Losses

Even tiny weak points can cause data loss. You can receive consultancy from our cybersecurity expert team on deciding the best techniques to minimize possible data losses.

Mobile Application Pentesting Methodology

Mobile Application Pentesting Methodology of Security for Everyone

1. Detection of Mobile Application Penetration Test Scope / Initial Meeting

We listen to your needs and exchange information to ensure that the tests will be performed in the best way possible. Thus, scope, type, and necessary information are determined in the scoping meeting. You can see the section that is related to the scope determination for the tests by clicking here.

2. Discovery

In this step, our experts gather information using both active and passive methods. This step allows us to identify attack vectors that can be used in the following steps and evaluate the application from the hacker's point of view. You can find some of the main topics considered during the discovery phase of our mobile app pentesting methodology below.

  • Application type (mobile web, local, cross-platform)
  • Application mapping, evaluation of the app functions
  • Determining the network protocols
  • Determining the hardware used by the app
  • Determining the 3rd party software, libraries, and frameworks (AWS, Azure, Firebase, etc.)
  • Determining the permissions of the application
  • Collecting information about the application by performing reverse engineering methods on applications

4. Exploitation

In this step, our pentest experts try to exploit the vulnerabilities by using information they gathered from a hacker's point of view. The primary purpose is to show the real risks. In this step, we attack apps and try to do some malicious things such as access to sensitive information owned by the company, run commands at the operating system level, bypass restrictions, upload a harmful file, etc.

In the exploitation step, Our cyber security experts use the necessary attack techniques without harming the systems to show what a malicious hacker can do in this step.

3. Analysis

There are three types of analysis for mobile application pentesting. Static, dynamic, and hybrid.

SAST (Static Application Security Testing): Static analysis is a series of tests performed without running an application. Source codes, files, and other data in the application are gathered without running the application. Analyzing the source code helps cybersecurity experts save time while understanding the application's functionality, revealing backend databases, gathering server information, finding used APIs, and analyzing technologies used in the app.

Dynamic Analysis (Dynamic Application Security Testing): Dynamic analysis is performed while the application is running. During dynamic analysis, attack scenarios from a hacker's point of view are simulated on the application. The information collected from the static analysis' results can be used during dynamic analysis. You can find some of the main topics evaluated in the dynamic analysis process of our mobile application pentesting methodology below.

  • Backend detection of the application, API (SOAP/REST)
  • Determining the behaviors of the application by forcing the application for errors
  • Cryptography testing, checking for weaknesses with cryptography, brute force key attacks, hard-coded keys/secrets, other disclosed information.
  • Web-based vulnerability scanning such as XSS, CSRF, SQL Injection, Command Injection, XML Injection, etc.
  • Security tests related to application auth mechanism
  • Security tests related to authorization processes of application

5. Reporting

During the reporting step of the mobile application penetration testing service, all founded vulnerabilities are presented with a special report. A mobile application pentesting report that S4E cybersecurity experts write will be a report that explains vulnerabilities in a simple language that developers can understand, which is supported by screenshots and includes special fields for managers.

The report will help calculate the total risks and plan the actions that need to be performed on the vulnerabilities.

This step is one of the most critical steps of mobile application pentesting. The report is the only output of the penetration test and includes all the necessary information to receive the maximum benefit.

Also, in some cases, we have a meeting where we go over the findings in the report.

You can find a sample of the mobile application pentest report from here.

6. Regression Tests

We check the vulnerabilities in the report after our customer apply the fixes. During this regression step which we offer for free, we ensure that the vulnerabilities are entirely fixed.

Mobile Applications Security Vulnerabilities

If you are still reading this, you might have heard about OWASP (The Open Web Application Security Project). OWASP is a non-profit foundation that works on application security. They published a list that they collected from various areas on the ten most crucial mobile application vulnerabilities.

It would be beneficial to look at the list even though the vulnerabilities are not limited to listed below.

Improper Platform Usage

Every mobile application platform serves different mechanisms to keep the application secure for developers. If the developer does not use these security mechanisms properly, it may lead to vulnerabilities.

Insecure Data Storage

Mobile applications might store sensitive data(user passwords, cookies, location, error messages, personal information, credit cards, etc.) on devices storage. Although these storage spaces seem secure, they can be accessed in lots of different ways. That is why sensitive information needs to be kept with the best possible techniques.

Insecure Authentication

Authentication is the process of verifying who a user is. Insecure Authentication occurs if the user identifying mechanisms (password, one-time code, fingerprint, etc.) are configured or used in the wrong way.

Insufficient Cryptography

Critical data needs to be encrypted to prevent unwanted access. Strong encryption algorithms must be used correctly to minimize the interception risk from malicious applications or eavesdrops on the network.

Insecure Authorization

Insecure authorization vulnerability occurs when a hacker makes operations that need authorization in a mobile application or mobile application’s backend. This vulnerability can be tested clearly with the test users that have different privileges during the mobile application penetration testing.

Poor Code Quality

Minor errors in the development process of mobile applications do not affect the functionality of the software. However, hackers who use reverse engineering methods to open and investigate apps can use these minor errors. Mobile application penetration testing helps reveal these errors during static and dynamic analysis.

Code Tampering

Mobile applications are downloaded with theis codebases. Hackers could open these codes with reverse engineering methods, make changes and repack them. As a result, the new application will be running according to the hacker's changes against your will.

Reverse Engineering

Hackers scan for a vulnerability using reverse engineering methods in their local environment after downloading the targeted application. They can learn some critical data with this method. There are some obfuscation methods that should be used to make it harder.

Extraneous Functionality

Mobile applications may include unused code fragments in them. Even though these codes are harmless since they are not functioning, hackers can use them to learn some critical information about your mobile application for new attacks.

The full scope can be submitted by the organization that requested the test. However, we recommend choosing the scope together. Our expertise can ensure that all critical parts of the app are included in the mobile application pentest.

In some cases, the full scope may not be provided for mobile application penetration testing service. These types of security testings are called black-box penetration testings. In these tests, the client only gives the organization name, domain name, or the mobile application name for the scope.

What is the scope of mobile application penetration testing service?

In the initial meeting, mobile applications, components, and backends that will be tested are decided. This is called scope. While determining the scope, also the type of the test is determined. Schedule a 15-minute meeting with the S4E cybersecurity expert team to determine which test is suitable for you.

mobile application pentest

At least, following points must be decided to define a scope and start testing.:

  • What environments does the app support, android/iOS or other?
  • Application backend: If there is a backend, it's better to include it in the tests, but in some exceptional cases, a penetration test of only the mobile app can be performed.
  • If there is a backend, is that environment a test or a prod? This is a vital question. Pentesters create lots of requests to detect edge cases in the app. Also, pentesters use tools that generate hundreds, sometimes thousands of new requests. This can cause slowdowns, creating lots of unuseful, or, in rare cases, data loss in prod environments. That is why the pentesters must be very careful in the prod environments. However, there is no need to be that careful in the test environments.
  • Authorization / Validation: The test accounts in authorization and validation steps make penetration tests more efficient.

Schedule a 15-minute meeting with the S4E cybersecurity expert team to determine which test is suitable for you.

FAQ

FAQ About Mobile Application Penetration Testing Service

It's the type of cyber security service to learn and fix vulnerabilities related to mobile applications. Experienced cybersecurity experts examine all possible input and logic flow to find weak points. However, be careful about this: while vulnerability scanning services are the processes done by automated scanner tools, mobile application penetration testing service contains lots of manual processes done by real experts.
Testing an IT system for finding vulnerabilities looks like finding looking for a needle in a haystack. Cybersecurity experts have to follow a methodology to find every weak spot, not only obvious ones. To learn more about our mobile application pentesting methodology, click here.
Because lots of bad guys are looking for security holes to harm your application out there, you can lose reputation, customers, data, and money. Also, you may be subject to some sanctions depending on the regulations in your country. We do not want to scare you, but publishing an insecure mobile application is something no one ever wants.
  • A process to find out every information related to your app
  • Finding vulnerabilities that can harm your system
  • Best practice suggestions for a more secure environment
  • A detailed report with finding, executive summary, fixing advice
  • One regression test
No one and not any system can be completely safe in a digital environment. There are lots of risks such as zero-days, human errors, internal threats, etc. However, it's a fact that any app without security checks will be completely unsafe. Therefore, it's a best practice for application owners to have penetration testing services to detect and learn weak points (vulnerabilities) and use a change management process to ensure the same vulnerabilities won't exist in the future.
It entirely depends on your application and backend size. It can be five days or twenty days, according to application data flow and input number. A complex system can take more time. You can talk with our experts to learn the exact days.
No. But, since it contains lots of manual and automated processes, be sure that cybersecurity experts that perform the test have some certifications and expertise. Otherwise, unwanted events can occur, especially when testing is done in the production environment. See our achievements and certificates.
How often do you have a significant update or change technologies you use? You must check for weak points after each major update. Also, we advise having at least one mobile application penetration testing service per year to learn up-to-date threats if you have a robust change management policy.

Do you have any questions?


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