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Penetration Testing: A Reliable Way to Find and Plug Holes in Web and Mobile Apps

Penetration Testing: A Reliable Way to Find and Plug Holes in Web and Mobile Apps
  • Discover
  • cybersecurity
  • Penetration testing

5 Jul 2022

The Internet has changed the way we live. From our waking moments to when we hit the bed at night, we rely on products and services that connect to the Internet to make our lives easier. 

These interactions range from waking up to one’s favorite music as the alarm, courtesy of an online streaming service, to conducting financial transactions, communicating with family and friends, co-workers, and whatnot. All these interactions are made possible by web and mobile applications.

Web Applications or Web Apps are accessible over a web browser by entering the relevant web address or an URL. In contrast, mobile apps are downloaded and installed on mobile devices. 

Web and mobile applications are software that allows users to perform specific tasks. While their functions are almost identical, the web and mobile apps are quite different in design and architecture. For example, most of a web app’s code is hosted remotely, with the user being offered access to an interface on the browser to interact with the application. 

However, when it comes to mobile apps, it is just the opposite, as most of the code and other associated data are all handled on the device.

While web apps kickstarted the internet revolution, mobile apps lead the way today as people increasingly prefer them for convenience. 

As more and more people use these applications to perform various tasks, they are actively providing and transmitting private and confidential information to trusted parties. 

However, such information can be an asset in cybercriminals’ hands, targeting these attractive apps. As a result, cybercriminals are always looking for vulnerabilities in web and mobile apps that can be exploited to access private and confidential data.

Few Common Vulnerabilities found in Web and Mobile Apps

Web Apps

Unless an application is subjected to a thorough security audit and stringent tests, the chances of them having one or more vulnerabilities is high. 

When it comes to web apps, the common vulnerabilities include Injection Flaws, Broken Authentication, Sensitive Data Exposure, Missing Function Level Access, Security Misconfiguration, Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), Insecure Direct Object References, Cross-site Request Forgery, Use of insecure components with known vulnerabilities, Unvalidated Redirects and Forwards and more. 

These vulnerabilities allow cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access to user information and other critical data to manipulate or exploit it for their benefit.

Mobile Apps

When it comes to mobile apps, the points of failure are generally more than that of a web app, mainly due to the design., While most web app infrastructure operates behind firewalls, connected by SSL and other encryption and security features, mobile apps operate on the client devices while using other third-party services and more. 

Common vulnerabilities encountered on mobile apps include Binary Protection, Insufficient Transport Layer Protection, Information Leakage between server and the app, within the app and between different apps, Insufficient Authorization, Improper Certificate Validation, User Enumeration, Insufficient Session Expiration, Information Leakage, Insufficient Code Obfuscation and so on.

With the entire code running on the device, alongside plenty of other apps sharing the hardware and operating system resources, the vulnerabilities and opportunities to exploit them are very high. 

Improper authentication, cache handling, and code obfuscation make it easy to access and reverse engineer the app. In addition, mobile phones are a treasure trove of data, including contact lists, banking information, geographical information, social networks, and more, so securing mobile apps takes the highest priority.

How to Secure Web and Mobile Apps

The web and mobile apps can possess various known and unknown vulnerabilities. While it is established that mobile apps potentially have more vulnerabilities, web apps are not much different. 

Therefore, the only way to ensure the apps are secure is by subjecting them to a harsh testing environment emulating hostile real-world scenarios by experts, a process better known as penetration testing or “pentest.”

Using the same tools and techniques as cybercriminals, penetration testers try to find all possible ways the app can be exploited. Such a test, combined with a thorough security audit and vulnerability scan, allows the developers to gain first-hand knowledge of how their application will fare in the real world. 

An experienced third party should conduct the security audit and penetration tests for objectivity and unbiased analysis.

Many reputed cybersecurity solutions providers like Hacken offer audit and pen testing for web and mobile apps. When availed, a team of experts will conduct the necessary tests and share a final report listing all potential vulnerabilities found during the exercise, along with instructions on how to fix them.

Implementing the suggested changes to address the findings will help secure the web and mobile apps from potential attacks, keeping the users safe.

Wish to know more about Penetration testing for Web and Mobile apps? Hacken will be happy to address any queries you may have. 

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