Android Penetration Testing - Checklist and Guide

If you can still find a person who does not use a laptop or smartwatch, it is almost impossible to find someone who hasn’t a mobile phone. It is an essential means of communication and entertainment. However, how much is personal information stored on your mobile devices? Your contacts and banking information, what else? Therefore, it is necessary to know about cyber security and take steps to improve your mobile security framework.

Mobile applications often exchange sensitive data, and when you install any Android application, you consent to its use. Unfortunately, these data are often targeted by hackers. Therefore, let’s discuss how to make Android applications and smartphones, safety devices, what risks they are exposed to, and the role of test cases.

5 Common Security Risks for Mobile Applications

Secure mobile apps should be one of the essential tasks for app developers. The release should be delayed if their finished product is not ready to launch due to security issues. Otherwise, users who install and start using an insecure mobile app run the risk of adding to the statistics of hacker victims. Some of the most commonly encountered risks are below:

1. Errors in usage

We are often talking about the incorrect operation of the application itself. It may affect your device and the data you store on it. It can happen if you do not accept platform security during installation or if the mobile application and operating system are incompatible. As a result, hackers will be able to access your store information.

2. Insecure data storage

Cloud storages, servers, mobile devices – all these places are the storage for Android application data. Unfortunately, they are most often hacked. And attackers can get hold of your banking information and even personal photos for further blackmail.

3. Unsecure chats, authentication, and authorization

If you use untrusted channels to transmit any information, anyone who has access to such a channel can intercept them. Therefore, it is not recommended to use public Wi-Fi hotspots. Always use multiple ways to verify your identity, including biometric authentication. Otherwise, there may be an illegal authorization attempt. Some mobile applications implement incorrect authorization so that hackers can access your information.

4. Weak cryptography

Cryptography is one reliable data protection tool, but it does not solve absolutely all security issues. For example, if flaws are found in the encryption implementation, hackers can gain access to sensitive information. Security assessments will help you find errors in the system and fix them on any mobile device.

5. Client code quality and code tampering

Many security vulnerabilities can occur in IOS or Android apps, but SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and buffer overflows are the most common. These security holes are due to poor client-side code quality. Code forgery is a process by which hackers use the existing source code of a program, modifying it with a harmful load. This issue usually occurs with mobile apps downloaded from third-party app stores. These app stores are not affiliated with official mobile app developers and often distribute pirated software.

Penetration Testing: What Is It and Why Do We Need It?

Android penetration testing is the process of finding vulnerabilities in Android applications. It consists in trying different methods and tools to attack any app on your device. Security issues are mainly related to data theft and information leakage. Therefore, IOS and Android penetration testers usually perform penetration testing.

In today’s world, Android and IOS apps are used for many reasons, such as mobile banking, shopping, sharing personal data, social media, and entertainment. For example, Android devices are vulnerable to hacking methods such as buffer overflows, code injection, reverse engineering, malware, etc.

Some of the benefits of penetration testing:

  • Learn about Android app security risks.
  • Increase the effectiveness of your program.
  • Earn customer trust.
  • Reduce the cost of data breaches.

Mobile App Security Testing Guide

The best way to prevent mobile app security issues is to break your app yourself. Testing is the best way to achieve this. Ideally, a security test case should be completed before launching the public app. However, if you skip the test, today’s the next best time to test security.

Define the Goal of Mobile Application Security

Before initiating a check, determine the root cause you are looking to fix. To do this, priority security areas must be identified, which must first be assessed. For example:

  • Check if there is a safety mechanism.
  • Confirmation of the existence of a management control system.
  • Make sure the correct configuration is set.
  • Check if the program has been tested at every stage and with different test cases.
  • Ensure that all communications between the user and the application, application, and server are encrypted.
  • Check that secure data storage procedures are in place.

In your mobile app, priority areas for security should include:

  • Program permissions.
  • Authentication and authorization.
  • Sessions and cookies.
  • Data storage.

Once you have outlined the main elements of security practices verification, you can move on to other steps.

Static and Dynamic Analysis

You may think that these are the same analysis, but they are not. Instead, they complement each other, and the experts recommend static and dynamic analysis.

With static analysis, the app is tested without writing the code but checking it for agreement on the required documents and the presence of errors. It helps to improve the quality of the software application during its development process.

And with dynamic testing, the code is produced while examining the application’s functionality. It helps to understand whether the software product meets the requirements of the business. It is carried out at all levels by automated and malware analysis.

Exploitation

At this point, you’ve set clear goals for your audit, analyzed the vulnerabilities in your Android app and the infrastructure that supports it, and exploited the vulnerabilities to determine their severity. At the end of the previous step, you should have a list of exposures related to security control problems.

Remediation

In previous steps, you may know what possible vulnerabilities threaten your application and what manual security testing accepts. It is time to evaluate the extent of these vulnerabilities. By scope, it means the penetration of errors in cyber security. In other words, the severity of the exposure.

Free Tools for Penetration Testing Checklist

Some tools that can help to check even apk files:

  • Android Debug Bridge;
  • Mobile Security Framework;
  • iMAS;
  • Zed Attack Proxy;
  • Mitmproxy.

Add them to your mobile app security checklist of main tools. Some of them can be used for free or need to download.

Final Thoughts

If downloaded or native apps don’t meet security requirements, it can cause considerable problems in the future. Our mobile security testing guide proves the importance of testing before the app’s launch. In addition, it will help to protect the store data in any app. Your device should be a safe medium for you. But do not forget about the rules for using the Internet. Do not install questionable applications whose insecure protocols can steal your sensitive information.

FAQ

Here are some questions that can help you summarize the Android pentesting in different terms that you need to be familiar with mobile app security test.

What is an SSL certificate?

It is a certificate in digital area of performing static identity and stable encrypted connection. It is for a security protocol that creates a link between a server and a browser.

What is code obfuscation?

It is the act of creating a machine code using to compose statements. Its main goal is to provide security through obscurity or implicit values embedded in it to prevent tampering in key areas.

What is a java decompiler?

It is a special type of decompiler which takes a file as input and produces java source code as output.