Mobile App Security – How Safe Are We

We depend on mobile apps for just about everything and many of us don’t even think about the security concerns before downloading an app. Sadly, by doing so, we’re letting plenty of malware and adware to gain accesss and use of our intimate information without permission. A research conducted by FireEye Security on 7 million iOS and Android applications shows that there are billions of malware and vulnerabilities that can affect your smart devices. In fact, Apple just had a security breach in it’s app store, allowing for lots of malware infected apps to be downloaded.

Mobile App Security

How Security Issues Arise?

An average user won’t realize the importance of mobile app security until it affects them personally or financially. Security breaches happen due to compromised mobile apps. It’s not only on Android devices but on iOS device, as well.

Problems Due To Careless App Developers

The App Development Kit from iOS and Google have most security issues covered, it’s just that some developers don’t utilize the complete potential of the API given. This leaves a lot of loopholes for security breaches that could have been easily avoided, if proper app development protocols were used and proper testing completed.

To get an idea of just how much testing you should do, check out our Top 61 Mobile App Testing Tips For 2015 – The Ultimate Checklist. It’s a consolidated list of primary tasks that needs to be fixed to ensure your app is clean as a whistle.

Issues Due To Malicious Developers

It’s one thing that hackers take advantage of weaker apps, the other kind is when apps are intentionally developed with adware and malware by malicious developers. These apps easily pass Google Play Store’s tests and then go live to haunt innocent users. Adware may not be a huge security threat when compared to malware, but they find ways to pop up advertisements and can block calls, incoming messages and access to some level of user’s private data.

It’s shocking to find that over 300,000 Google Play apps have adware incorporated into them. Also, 5.61% of the top 500 apps are compromised of maleware, affecting millions of clueless users.

How Malware Affects You

Users are quite naive about the intensity of issues that arise due to most malware attacks. It’s important to realize that these malware are responsible for ad pop-ups and the leak of user analytic details. Specifically, here’s how malware affects Android and iOS devices:

Malware Attacks In Android

Android devices are subjected to abundant attacks, as Google is not very strict with their review process. There are over 5 billion vulnerabilities with 5.61% of aggressive adware issues.

  • Stolen Secured Data Due To Infected Apps
    Certain malware disguises as a Google Play Store apps and, when users enter in their private and confidential information, it gets stored for attackers to access them later. Korbanker malware was one of such threat in 2014 which targeted many Korean banks. Many users were faked into entering their bank credentials.
  • App Hijack
    Javascript binding method is an insecure way to let Android connect with the web content. It leaves a ‘welcome sign’ entry for attackers. They can access your device and inject malicious codes, letting them remote access your apps,. In over 500,000 apps assessed, nearly 31% of application are at the risk of getting hijacked.

Malware Attacks In iOS

The security issues aren’t as severe in iOS devices, as Apple has a definitive API standard, which they are very strict about. To get through Apple’s strict approval process, app developers must stick to their developmental guidelines. But, iTunes also has a few loopholes that are exploited by attackers making iOS devices open to some level of malware and adware.

  • The 2014 Masquing Threat
    Similar to the Korbanker malware, the attackers simulated the login page interface and collected user credentials to upload onto a remote server. Such attacks were targeted at banking and email apps. Once the malware is replaced with the original app, the cached details were retained in the local directory. This helped users in realizing that their secured banking details were leaked to some 3rd party attackers.
  • Attacks Through EnPublic Apps
    More than 80% of iOS apps are distributed under an enterprise license which have their own API, not subjected to Apple’s API standards. The attackers take advantage and distribute apps with an undocumented API, loaded with powerful attacks. Even though, the number of EnPublic app attacks are on a minimal scale, it will grow pretty soon.
  • The iOS Malware

    Jailbroken devices were initially the only source of malware infection. Recently, though, two malware were uncovered, Wirelurker and Pawn Storm, that were able to affect non-Jailbroken devices. The Wirelurker takes advantage of the wired USB connection to infect both Jailbroken and the non-Jailbroken iOS devices. It aims at stealing confidential information and money from users. Pawn Storm is more into collecting user data and screenshots.

We think that the iOS market will be targeted more by attackers and the number of malware issues will increase drastically in the near future.

How To Stay Safe

It helps to be proactive and stay safe from such malicious apps. These malware can steal bank information, track your GPS coordinates, remote access your apps and much more. It’s freaky and unnerving to think what else attackers can do with complete access to your phone. Sadly, it’s quite difficult for users to identify apps that are genuine to the apps that are compromised, but we can be safe to an extent by following certain protocols:

  1. Do not grant complete access to third party apps when you are not sure why the app needs such information
  2. Always check for the authenticity of an app developer before downloading an app
  3. Read other user comments to check if they have had any security related issues
  4. Download banking/finance apps only from the corresponding resources/their home page link
  5. If you notice many pop-ups after you download a particular app, then maybe its infected with an adware. Uninstall immediately!

We hope users are more aware of of today’s mobile development scenarios. As the app stores take many steps to weed out such attackers, the attackers are quickly finding other ways to hack users. At Innoppl, we take security issues very seriously and conduct regular security audits on all our apps to ensure there are no loopholes and are free from malware and adware. Contact our Atlanta App Developers to learn more.