Typical Issues Detected While Mobile Application Security Testing

9 Typical Issues Detected While Mobile Application Security Testing

Security issues are inevitable after coding and releasing an application. This is when a cybersecurity team comes into play to outline all vulnerabilities and provide a comprehensive report explaining the number and types of weaknesses existing in a web or mobile application.

Immediate steps must be taken after each mobile application security testing to fix related issues with updates and application patches. If not, a minor mistake in the structure of applications can lead to a significant failure.

If you are curious about typical issues detected while performing mobile application testing, follow the next sections to find out more.

Man in the Middle Attacks

Man in the Middle (MITM) attacks are commonly detected when mobile apps are explored in terms of cybersecurity. OWASP says MITM is the condition that an attacker intercepts a communication between two systems, like in malicious proxies.

Note that MITM attacks are one of the first threats explored by testers. There are problems when mobile applications use insecure communication protocols or authentication standards to communicate with remote servers. Here is the situation where an attacker intervenes to become the man in the middle by intercepting the linked communication. 

Mobile apps are more likely to be impacted by these threats as long as they need to make use of communication standards. If there is no secure protocol, MITM attacks can cause difficulties and lead to data and information theft.

Insecure Storage of Sensitive Data on Mobile Devices

Mobile application security testing tools have one thing in common: They aim to dig up and excavate insecure storage practices of sensitive data for mobile apps. Developers may assume that bad actors cannot access a device’s file systems and storage, so they leave it encrypted and store sensitive data and information without any protective level.

Insecure storage of information has been listed as one of the critical issues by OWASP related to mobile apps. When such a vulnerability is detected during the mobile application security testing process, immediate steps must be taken to fix the problem and properly protect users’ data.


Cryptography is the practice of concealing messages and information within a secret code to protect it. Cryptography is a widely used and effective data security technique aiming to secure a message using encryption and decryption methods.

There are many types of cryptography for mobile applications, and related vulnerabilities are explored during the mobile app testing process. The method dates back to the 1970s when IBM created a procedure to protect its customers’ data. After that, more cryptographic standards were created to serve modern software and application development requirements, such as RSA and AES.

Weak Session Management

Weak session management occurs when a web application produces a session cookie which is easily detectable and guessable. A cybercriminal can counterfeit session cookies by easily guessing their value, which leads to a session hijacking attack.

Business impacts of improper session management can be fraud and information theft through handling session cookies by hackers. It can also lead to business discontinuity and interruption in most cases. Typically, users who have been targeted by weak session management threats lose control of their accounts.

Any mobile application with access to HTTP/S traffic is prone to fall into such cyber traps, which can be a result of the following deficiencies:

  • Failure to use highly secure cryptography algorithms to produce the session identifier
  • Failure to protect the session id cookie
  • Failure to invalidate the session when a user closes the browser

Unauthorized Access to Users’ Accounts

Unauthorized access occurs when someone gains access to a website, application, or server. Some system administrators set up trustworthy methods to detect these types of vulnerabilities, but there is generally no control for investigating the situation when there is an authorized access attempt.

Access control and management are effective and essential for mobile and web applications that are continuously transferring data. Access control can prevent numerous issues that are often caused by improper authentication and authorization mechanisms.

When such vulnerabilities are found in the web or mobile applications, it means attackers can access restricted resources and perform malicious activities.

SQL Injection

SQL injection is a common web and mobile application attack that involves integrating SQL commands into input data, allowing the attacker to read and write to the database. Depending on the intensity of a SQL injection attack, there may be different troubles.

Mobile apps are a helpful tool for performing such attacks, and it has been listed as one of the main techniques hackers use to destroy your database. Gaining access through web or mobile applications and placing the malicious code in SQL statements lead to something disastrous. Hackers can view data that belongs to users, and they can modify or delete this data in most cases.

Suppose there is a wide range of sensitive data stored in the database, including passwords, credit card details, and personal user information. When a successful SQL injection attack occurs, it can lead to high-profile data breaches with significant reputational damage and regulatory fines. It means organizations need to spend on mobile application security testing to have regular tests and detect such weaknesses. 

Server Misconfigurations

Server misconfigurations are a type of human error that can put your organization at risk. Note that every application has at least one vulnerability, and server misconfiguration is one of the most common types of mobile app vulnerabilities detected by testers and security analysts.

A server misconfiguration vulnerability occurs when a web or mobile application component is missing proper configuration and setting that is vulnerable to being targeted by cybercriminals. Human error, poor encryption methodologies, and excess privileges are the 3 primary causes of such vulnerabilities that can put data security and protection in your organization at high risk.

It is not surprising that server misconfiguration and improper settings are considered one of the critical vulnerabilities for mobile application security, and many security-related incidents are due to server misconfiguration caused by human error and weak setting management.

  • A comprehensive asset inventory is required to understand which parts of the system can be targets of cyber attacks. So, cybersecurity teams can perform vulnerability assessment programs and mobile application security testing to better explore misconfiguration vulnerabilities and report them.

Command Injection

Command injection is another weakness commonly found in mobile apps that involves executing arbitrary commands on a server that is running a mobile or web application. Generally, an attacker can make use of a command injection vulnerability to take control of other parts of the server and hosting infrastructure.

There are many types of malicious activities carried out using the command injection technique, such as the insertion of harmful files into the server. As a result, vulnerable applications will run the files in the runtime. More importantly, command injection can lend hackers a hand in executing shell commands.

Well-known Platform Vulnerabilities

Well-known platform vulnerabilities refer to those application and system vulnerabilities found in particular platforms, such as iOS and Android. These vulnerabilities include a wide variety of security weaknesses that may be found due to each platform’s security issues.

Platform-specific vulnerabilities are inevitable, so it is important to investigate these issues regularly and fix them both on the server side and the application layer.

Common platform vulnerabilities for the Android platform include the following list:

  • Server-side vulnerabilities, injection flaws, and setting misconfigurations
  • Insecure data storage
  • Insecure data exchange
  • Third-party control

Common platform vulnerabilities for the iOS platform include the following list:

  • Poor coding
  • Insecure data storage
  • Improper cryptography use
  • Third-party control

Flaws in security mechanism implementation are the main data security problems found for both iOS and Android platforms.

Back Doors and Debug Options

A backdoor is a malware tool commonly used by hackers that tries to bypass normal authentication procedures to gain access to a system. As a result of running a back door, attackers have remote access to the resources of an application or enter the database.

This will allow them to remotely execute commands or update malware, causing these types of malicious activities:

  • Data theft
  • Website defacing
  • Server hijacking
  • DDoS attacks
  • Advanced persistent threat assaults

It can be challenging for a data security team if such attacks aren’t detected at the right time. More than that, backdoors are very tough to weed out, and deep scanning and practical solutions are required to get rid of such attacks in mobile applications.

Errors Triggering Sensitive Information Leaks

Think of a situation where an application generates error messages that include sensitive information about users, data, and its environment. It can be somehow funny, but such vulnerabilities are found during mobile application security testing. This type of information and sensitive data can be useful for launching future attacks.

Error messages generated by a web or mobile application are supposedly harmless, but they can reveal a query’s logic and let hackers find out how a malformed query has been created and how it is acting.

To spot these application vulnerabilities, cybersecurity experts implement deep scanning and advanced tools. 

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