Insights from evaluating more than 100 apps

Mar 28, 2024

Exploring the security landscape

Mobile applications are an integral part of our daily lives, connecting us to a multitude of services and functions. As the prevalence of apps continues to grow rapidly, securing these platforms has become more critical than ever. After meticulously evaluating more than 100 diverse mobile applications, we have discovered several key findings and vulnerabilities pertinent to mobile application security. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the insights gained and shedding light on prevalent security flaws.
Inadequate data protection
A striking majority of the apps evaluated lacked robust data protection measures. The storage of sensitive user data in plain text was a significant vulnerability, exposing users to a host of potential breaches and data leaks. Developers must encrypt sensitive information to fortify applications against unauthorized access and ensure user data privacy.
Lack of proper session management
Session management vulnerabilities were widespread, allowing attackers to hijack user sessions. This flaw can lead to unauthorized access and potentially compromise user accounts. Developers need to implement secure token-based authentication and timely session expiration to mitigate risks associated with session hijacking.
Unintended data leakage
Several applications were found to be leaking sensitive user data unintentionally through logs, cached data, and backups. The unintended exposure of such information can have severe implications. Applications should minimize data storage on the client-side and avoid logging sensitive information to tackle unintended data leakage.
Insufficient authentication controls
Weak authentication mechanisms were a common flaw. Many apps lacked multi-factor authentication and relied on simplistic passwords, leaving them vulnerable to forceful and credential stuffing attacks. The incorporation of robust authentication controls is crucial for reinforcing application security.
Excessive permissions
Many apps requested excessive permissions that were not essential for their functionality. This overreach not only undermines user privacy but also poses significant security risks if an attacker exploits these permissions. Adhering to the principle of least privilege is essential to limit permissions to what is strictly necessary.
Proactive measures and best practices
Through rigorous pentesting, potential vulnerabilities within mobile applications can be identified and addressed promptly. Some best practices include:
  • Regular updates and patching: Keep applications updated to patch known vulnerabilities and enhance security.
  • Security by design: Incorporate security measures from the initial development stages and conduct security assessments throughout the development lifecycle.
  • User education: Educate users on security best practices, encouraging the use of strong, unique passwords, and enabling multi-factor authentication.
  • Data minimization: Store the minimal amount of user data necessary and enforce stringent data retention policies.
  • API security: Secure the communication between the app and the backend through API security measures such as OAuth 2.0.
DEKRA's contribution
DEKRA offers comprehensive security assessment services tailored to address the vulnerabilities identified in mobile applications. With our expertise in pentesting and security analysis, we help our customers fortify their applications against potential threats. Our services include thorough evaluations, actionable recommendations, and ongoing support to ensure the security posture of mobile applications remains robust over time. By partnering with DEKRA, customers can confidently navigate the complex landscape of mobile application security, safeguarding their users' data and privacy effectively.
The insights gained from evaluating more than 100 apps underscore the prevalent vulnerabilities within mobile applications. Inadequate data protection, insecure communication, and insufficient authentication controls emerge as prominent issues that necessitate immediate attention. Developers, security practitioners, and users must collaboratively endeavor to elevate the security posture of mobile applications, employing proactive measures and best practices, with the support of DEKRA, to safeguard user data and privacy in the ever-evolving digital landscape.