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Mobile Application Penetration Testing Methodology


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The Mobile Application Penetration Testing Methodology is a form of security testing used to analyze security from inside of a mobile environment. That built on OWASP mobile application security verification standard. The mobile application penetration testing methodology concentrates on client-side safety, file system, hardware, and network security.

By conducting penetration tests, the company can gain knowledge of vulnerabilities in the mobile application, bottlenecks, loopholes, and attack vectors before delivering an app to the user. As a result, the company can change the design, code, and architecture before release. The cost of fixing the issue at this stage is less than addressing later when a breach or a flaw gets discovered. The price at post-rollout step joins not only financial matters but also PR, legal, and more.


The Mobile Application Security Testing divides into four stages:

  • Preparation – requires the pentester to obtain information that is crucial in knowing events that lead to the successful exploitation of mobile applications.
  • Evaluation – analysis involves the penetration tester going through the mobile application and recognizing potential entry points and vulnerabilities that can exploit.
  • Exploitation – penetration tester trying to exploit discovered vulnerabilities to take profit of the mobile application in a manner not meant by the programmer initially didn’t expect.
  • Reporting – it’s involves reporting and presenting the discovered results in a manner that makes sense to management. That is also the stage that separates a penetration test from an attack. A complete discussion of the four steps follows.



Intelligence gathering is the most significant step in a penetration test. The ability to find hidden cues that might shed light on the occurrence of vulnerability can be the difference within a successful and unsuccessful pentest. Reconnaissance involves next steps:

  1. The first stage is open-source intelligence(OSINT) gathering, which gives for a review of publicly accessible information and resources. Pentester searches information about the application in all possible sources. That can found on search engines and social networks, leaked source code through version control systems, developer boards, or even on the dark web.
  2. Architecture understanding – penetration tester needs to understand the mobile application architecture, also from an outside point of view, to aid in generating a threat model for the application. The pentester brings into account the company following the app, its business case, and relevant stakeholders. The internal structures and processes are also addressed to account.
  3. Client and server-side scenarios – penetration tester needs to be able to recognize the type of application (native, hybrid, or web) and to manage test cases. The application network interfaces, user data, communication with third party resources, session management, jailbreaking/rooting detecting.


The process of mobile assessment applications is different because it challenges the penetration tester to compare the apps before and after installation. The evaluation techniques that encountered within the mobile security include:

  • File system analysis – pentester examines the local files written on the file system by the application to assure that there are no breaches.
  • Package analysis – unpack the application installation bundles for the Android and iOS operating systems. An analysis should be done to assure that there are no changes in configurations of the compiled binary.
  • Reverse engineering – means transforming the compiled applications into human-readable source code. The penetration tester analyzes the decompiled code to understand the intuitive application functionality and hunt for vulnerabilities. Note: An android application may be modified once changed and recompiled.
  • Static analysis – penetration tester does not execute the application. The investigation is doing on the provided files or decompiled source code.
  • Dynamic analysis – pentester reviews the mobile application as it runs on the device or emulator. Reviews done include a forensic examination of the file system, assessment of the network communication between the application and server, and an evaluation of the application’s inter-process communication (IPC).
  • Inter-Process Communication Endpoint Analysis – pentester reviews the different mobile application IPC endpoints. Assessment performing on:
  1. Content providers – these ensure that access to databases reached.
  2. Intents – these are signals used to send messages between components of the android system.
  3. Broadcast receivers – these receive and act on intents received from other applications on the android system.
  4. Activities – these make up the screens or pages within the application.
  5. Services – These run from the background and perform tasks regardless of whether the main application is running.

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Penetrations testing engineer operates upon the information determined from the information-gathering step to attack the mobile application. Entirely performed intelligence gathering ensures a high possibility of a successful project.

This phase includes exercising all potential vulnerabilities recognized in the previous stages of the assessment and trying to exploit them as an attacker would. Not only automatically recognize vulnerabilities that exploited, but issues requiring hand-operated classification and exploitation evaluated, as well. That involves business logic flaws, authentication/authorization bypasses, direct object references, parameter tampering, and session management. Pentester tries to exploit the vulnerability to gain sensitive information or perform malicious actions. Then finally delivers privilege escalation to raise to the most privileged user (root) to not face any restrictions on any actions that completed.


Preparing reports

The output provided generally includes an executive-level paper and a technical report. The executive-level paper is written for management consumption and covers a high-level summary of assessment activities, scope, most critical vulnerabilities discovered, overall risk scoring. The technical report, on the other hand, includes all vulnerabilities fixed individually, with specifications on how to recreate the vulnerability, understand the risk, recommended remediation operations, and helpful reference links.


The final activity in any assessment being a presentation of all documentation to the client. We walk the client within the information provided, make any updates needed, and address questions regarding the assessment output. Following this activity, we’ll give new revisions of documentation and schedule any formal retesting, if it is applicable.

Remediation testing

When client finish with vulnerabilities penetration tester validate and approve it.

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