Top 7 Mobile Application Vulnerabilities You Must Know

5 min read Oct 11, 2021

As the popularity of mobile apps grows, so do security concerns. An increase in organizational mobility usually results in a rise in the number of mobile devices accessing your systems from afar. The mobile application vulnerabilities can cause a large amount of data loss, risk of private information, and what not! It implies a rising number of endpoints and several risks to secure and prevent a data breach at your company. So, now you can have an idea about how much mobile app security holds huge importance in the industry.

There has been a significant rise in mobile devices over the last decade. After mobile devices, mobile applications arrive abruptly. Many firms prioritize mobile apps these days since research suggests increased mobility helps businesses enhance operations and efficiency. But, mobile apps are turning out to be the cause of unintentional data leakage. For this, you need to keep your eyes on the blog. 

What is a Mobile Threat? 

A virus or spyware affecting your mobile applications is known as a mobile threat. Such mobile device vulnerabilities can put your mobile systems at severe risk with increased intensities. That is why we talk about the importance of mobile application development security and try to prevent and bring a solution to mobile application vulnerabilities. 

There are several security risks that may impact mobile devices, similar to viruses and spyware that can infect your PC. Application-based risks, web-based threats, network-based threats, and physical attacks are the four types of mobile dangers we've identified. 

4 Types of Mobile Security Threats

1. App-based threats:

"Malicious apps" may seem legitimate on a download site, but they are designed to conduct fraud. It indulges malware software (creating charges to your phone bill, allowing the device to be controlled by them). Spyware frequently targets internet history, phone call records, text messages, contact lists, user locations, emails, and private photos. This information might be manipulated for identity theft or monetary-related fraud. These mobile security threats may cause sensitive information to be compromised. Vulnerable apps have mobile vulnerabilities that can be exploited for some suspicious reasons. An attacker can use these flaws to access sensitive information, conduct activities, stop a process from working, or download tracking or malicious applications to your device. 

2. Web-based Threats: 

Web-based threats are no longer a thing of the past; they may now also cause problems for mobile devices. You know the phishing schemes make use of email, text messages, and social media to transmit malicious links to your websites. Such mobile device attacks are designed to mislead you into giving up personal information like passwords and account numbers. Moreover, the Browser exploits” create advantages from the mobile vulnerabilities in your web browser or the programs it launches, such as PDF readers, Flash, and image viewers. A Browser exploit can be triggered simply by visiting an unsecured internet page, allowing malware to be installed or other actions to be carried out on your device and create threats to mobile devices. 

3. Network Threats: 

To get access to sensitive information, network exploits use mobile application vulnerabilities in the mobile operating system or other software that operates on local or cellular networks. After you join, they can install malware on your phone without your permission, which will create mobile security risks.

The WiFi Sniffing intercepts data as it passes between the two points, that is, the device and the WiFi access point. Many applications and websites lack confined security and transfer the unencrypted data across the network that can be easily viewed by someone who intercepts data as it extends. 

4. Physical Threats 

Physical Security is another important consideration when carrying that small and valuable device with us everywhere we go. 

Such kind of mobile device security threats are also prevalent. Undoubtedly, hardware is costly but sensitive information can cost you a lot. 

Top 7 Mobile Application Vulnerabilities 

1. Binary Protection 

Binary Protection

Inadequate Root Detection / Jailbreak Data security and encryption mechanisms on the OS are undone when a device is rooted or jailbroken. When a device is hacked, it may run any malicious code. It can also dramatically modify the application logic's intended behavior. Often, recovery and data forensic tools work on rooted devices adequately. Proper root/jailbreak detection is necessary; this can layer up the data from being exposed. 

2. Insufficient Authorization/Authentication 

When an application fails to execute adequate authorization checks to verify that the user is executing a function or accessing data in accordance with the security policy, this is known as insufficient authorization. 

What a user, service, or application is allowed to perform should be monitored by authorization processes.  When a user logs in to a website, this does not always imply that the user has complete access to all information and capabilities. A solution can calm your efforts, that is, implementing a tried-and-true authorization system that values policy-based configuration files over robust authentication/authorization analyses wherever possible. 

3. Insecure storage of information 

The vulnerability may also occur when the sensitive data isn't securely kept in the device. 

People must constantly bear in mind that data stored on devices isn't safe since it may be stolen, and sensitive data stored on the device can also be stolen. Apps should save sensitive data in keychain pairs to avoid this issue. If the app saves information in the form of data, then the data needs to be encrypted. 

4. Server-Side Vulnerability 

Unauthenticated access can be preventable on the server-side, but app design needs to integrate input validation checks and restrictions to decrease the server's workload. When the app processes the server, it is important to verify input data and halt any unusual behavior. You know one can whitelist the necessary forms of data, and the rest can be denied from the app side. Both the app and the server should use encryption while receiving and transmitting data. 

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5. Secure App Source Code 

We all know well that bugs and vulnerabilities in the application code are the initial points of breaking into the application. But attackers are ever ready to reverse your code and don't leave even a single point to come over your logic. They would just a public copy of your app to manipulate things the way it was. In this case, you can create a copy of your original source code and keep it for maintenance purposes. 

To secure code, a developer can think of a Code Signing certificate that ensures code integrity and strong security. The certificate assures that the code has not been modified since it is signed. Moreover, it also verifies the publisher's identity. You can find many low-cost SSL providers in the SSL industry that can give surety about application code integrity.

6. Cryptography- Improper Certificate Validation 

This app can either validate the SSL/TLS certificates or won't do it; it may not correctly verify the state. What a client can do is drop the connection if the certificate can't be verified. The data can be used for unauthorized access if it is not properly validated. 

You need to ensure that the certificate validation in your app is done properly to cross-check whether a certificate is from a trusted source and it should be from a reputable certificate authority. You should be implementing some recent standard forums for the best validation. 

7. Insufficient Session Expiration 

When a user signs out of the application, the identifiers got invalidated. Even then, when the server fails to invalidate the session identifiers, other users can possibly interrupt and perform actions on the users' behalf. 

You need to ensure that the logout button is implemented in the application, and you must wait for the proper log-out till the session is accurately invalidated. 

The crux is you need to use common sense when you download apps. Hope you see less of these mobile application vulnerabilities in your future apps! 

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Jatinder Bawa

Jatinder Bawa, AVP at Seasia Infotech, is a seasoned IT Professional with 20+ years of experience. His specializations with IT Strategizing and Execution along with Cybersecurity can be confirmed independently from the entire Seasia Group of Companies. Being DISM, IBM, DNIA, CCNA, and MCPS certified, he’s been an inspiration in the realms of IT projects, right from inception to implementation. When he’s not working with gadgets, his passion for learning new aspects and sense of humor becomes the talk of the town.