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Android VAPT: Mobile Application VAPT Methodology and Standards

The rapid advancement in the usage of applications and internet has brought with its challenges of data security and confidentiality. Every company is developing their own application to manage clients and their processes more easily. This application may be web-based or mobile-based. Although these programs make the process simple, they also put users’ private information in danger. To increase the application’s security, Vulnerability and Penetration Testing (VAPT) should be used. VAPT is a crucial component in security enhancement of the application.

An android application is tested to identify any security flaws. This technique is known as Android VAPT. Decompiling, real-time analysis, and testing of the Android application under security conditions are all included. This includes testing security flaws such insecure logging, content providers who leak information, insecure data storage, and access control problems, among others.

What is Android VAPT?

Android VAPT is a procedure for testing and identifying security flaws in the world’s most popular mobile operating system. These gadgets hold all aspects of our daily lives. When a device is compromised, your identity or business may also be at risk. Given that untested programs could contain security issues that make your data accessible. Downloading and utilizing unsecured applications can pose a risk to both the user and the company. Making sure that mobile apps have been thoroughly pen tested for security flaws is one method to reduce this risk. We can have some level of assurance regarding the security of the applications thanks to the mobile app VAPT.

We need to find the faults in the applications that will be downloaded and installed on the device to ensure application-level security. Finding the application’s flaws and fixing them before hackers exploit them is the main goal of android penetration testing. Data theft, information leakage, and other associated issues are the key security concerns. The penetration testing of android applications is typically carried out by android testers.

Mobile Application VAPT Methodology

The mobile application VAPT procedure has numerous steps. The Android app’s VAPT strategy comprises

  • Information Gathering – Gathering the key information and features of the application is the first step in the penetration testing process. Understanding the application being tested is a crucial VAPT component.
  • Analysis and Planning – At this stage, the test’s administration is being prepared for. This requires choosing the execution’s flow. Watching the application during and after installation on the device is part of this stage.
  • Vulnerability Discovery – Vulnerabilities are now identified either manually or with the use of a tool. This stage discovers any potential application vulnerabilities.
  • Exploitation – At this time, the application gets attacked. At this point, attacks are carried out to assess how serious the vulnerabilities are. To test target mobile applications, malicious payloads like a reverse shell or a root exploit are utilized. Each vulnerability found by penetration testers is put to the test by a team employing both custom-made and publicly accessible exploits.
  • Risk Analysis and Recommendations – To determine the impact, a risk analysis is conducted at this step. This stage lists every vulnerability, assesses them according to severity, and suggests appropriate mitigation actions.
  • Reporting – The application testing has reached its conclusion. At this stage, a complete report on the findings is written and given to the appropriate parties. The report normally includes a list of the tested endpoints, the harm done, risk evaluations, and vulnerabilities found, along with the proper exploitation and remediation techniques.

Why is VAPT for mobile devices necessary?

To determine whether appropriate security measures are in place, VAPT of these apps exposes the internal codes and design in addition to conducting thorough security testing of the app’s operation. It is crucial for identifying the flaws in downloaded programs that could expose users to hazards or have bugs that could expose their data to risk. Some advantages of mobile application VAPT include identifying and reducing security threats of the applications, improving the application’s efficiency, assisting in building consumer trust, and lowering the cost of data breach.

Mobile Application VAPT Standards

In 2016, the OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) started emphasizing on the relevance of mobile security. The top 10 most recent security threats that mobile applications must deal with is listed in the OWASP Mobile Security Project. Different Threat levels are used to rank each of these security issues.

OWASP Mobile Top 10


OWASP Mobile TOP 10 2016 vulnerabilities are

  • M1 – Improper Platform Usage: The operating system or platform that is used by mobile devices like Android or iOS offers a variety of functions and features. Insecure development or implementation practices will provide multiple attack paths to the attacker like API call exposure, Android Intent, Data leakage etc. The attacker might be able to access the application and inject malicious code to steal data and modify other features or functions of the application just by finding any coding flaw.
  • M2 – Insecure Data Storage: The security related to any data that is either stored or transmitted is termed as data security. The user’s data known as personally identifiable information is stored by almost all the applications. These data can be stored at various locations like servers, mobile devices or at cloud. Hence all these locations became targets for hackers. To mitigate these attacks, the data needs to be stored securely.
  • M3 – Insecure Communication: Insecure communication is nothing but sending sensitive information over insecure channels. Unencrypted and clear text transformation of sensitive information will make a path open for an attacker to steal the data during communication. The communication over an insecure channel can be intercepted by compromising Wi-Fi, by MITM attack, or by installing a malware. If an attacker is on same network, then intercepting the network traffic will be very easy.
  • M4 – Insecure Authentication: The purpose of authentication is to prove user’s identity to the system. Weak authentication methods, such as using widely used passwords or a weak cryptographic algorithm possess many security threats to the application. If an attacker is successful in obtaining sensitive data or elevated access, a weak authentication control will have a significant negative impact on the application and communication.
  • M5 – Insufficient Cryptography: Cryptography can be considered as a tool that helps to protect data. The application includes sensitive information, which must be secured with strong encryption but if used cryptography mechanism is weak or flawed, it loses its purpose. Use of outdated cryptographic algorithm such as MD5 or wrong implementation of cryptographic measures leads an attacker to reverse-engineer or bypass the encryption mechanism.
  • M6 – Insecure Authorization: A process called authorization makes sure that only people who have been given permission to access the data are carrying out the access action. A key component of the CIA triad is authorization. The attackers’ access and execution of privilege escalation to steal sensitive data and harm the system infrastructure is made possible by the insufficient authorization.
  • M7 – Client Code Quality: Client code vulnerabilities exists because of poor coding practices. It is the essential factor in ensuring the final product quality. Many vulnerabilities exist for mobile applications but the common ones including SQL injection, XSS, buffer overflows, etc. are the reason of poor client code practices.
  • M8 – Code Tampering: Hackers or attackers use the practice of “code tampering” to manipulate an application’s source code with harmful payload. The attacker creates a fake version of the mobile application using the code tampering vulnerability and deceives users into installing it using phishing and other social engineering tricks. Business disruption, financial loss, and intellectual property loss are the potential results of this. The problem is typically observed in mobile applications downloaded from unofficial app shops.
  • M9 – Reverse Engineering: Decompiling a mobile application to understand its logic is known as reverse engineering. It is utilized to grasp the development’s fundamental concepts. To conduct an attack to steal intellectual property, attackers decompile the program to do code analysis, identify the connection and information about the backend server, detect cyphers, and modify the code. They edit the program utilizing tools after they are aware of how it functions and is intended to behave.
  • M10 – Extraneous Functionality: Extraneous functionality refers to a component that any hacker can use to carry out a cyber-attack, such as configuration files, log files, test scripts, admin endpoints, and backend system functionalities. The primary goal is to comprehend and investigate the hidden capabilities of the backend framework.

Focus Area for Mobile Application VAPT

  • The application always relies heavily on information. Therefore, it is crucial to determine if sensitive data is saved safely or not when using the mobile app VAPT. As a result, testing for data storage should check for hardcoded credentials, any critical data exposures (such as via tokens or API keys), inadequate cryptography, and encryption.
  • To comprehend various application-level failures, programmers frequently employ various types of error messages during the application development process. These messages are occasionally kept intact even after an application has been produced. This can let hackers carry out different types of attacks. A test for error or debug messages ought to be run as part of the VAPT application.
  • The application may communicate with its own server or with other applications. If the attacker can intercept the traffic because this communication is taking place through an unsecured channel, the security of the data may be compromised. Application VAPT’s main area of attention must be testing for communication at the application level.
  • The main focuses of VAPT are user identity testing and privilege testing for each user. Testing should be done for improper authentication and privilege escalation.

Tools for Android VAPT

  • MobSF – MobSF is an automated framework that can analyze Android VAPT both statically and dynamically. It also gives users access to a full platform for malware research, security evaluation, and pen-testing of mobile apps.
  • Frida – Frida is a toolbox for instrumenting dynamic code. In addition to inserting your own code, it allows you to analyze and alter presently operating processes interactively and programmatically.
  • Drozer – Drozer simulates a native Android application, interacts with the OS, other applications’ IPC endpoints, and the Dalvik Virtual Machine to enable scanning for security flaws in Android applications.
  • Radare2 – A well-known open-source program called Radare2 is used for disassembling, debugging, patching, and analyzing scriptable binaries that support numerous architectures and file-formats, including those for Android and iOS apps.

The most important aspect for every firm has always been application security. Even simple errors in the application code might lead to security lapses and the loss of vital data. Methods to find any current faults and thwart potential assaults are provided through vulnerability assessment and penetration testing. It provides a surface-level assessment of the application security posture, identifying flaws and outlining the necessary mitigation steps to either fix them or make them less risky.

By protecting connected device networks spanning device-connectivity-application layers utilizing strategic, transformative, and managed operations approaches, we assisted businesses in developing, deploying, and managing security products on a worldwide scale. To satisfy security industry standards, rules, and guidelines like NIST, ENISA, OWASP, MITRE, and IoT Security Foundation, we have 360-degree cybersecurity experience for threat modelling and VAPT spanning devices, OS/firmware, web/mobile applications, data, and cloud workloads.

We can be your partner for all your needs, from strategic evaluations and transformations to turnkey implementations, and managed security operations. Our diversified cybersecurity engagements adhere to industry security norms at the device, connection, and application layers. Speak with our infosec experts today to learn more about our cybersecurity testing services.

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