Covid-19 pandemic-induced lockdowns and social distancing norms have changed the way consumers interact with technology. Consumers find themselves suddenly relying more on apps for a wide range of purposes, needs, and activities.
There is an unprecedented surge in demand for apps for staying healthy (physically and mentally), shopping, communication, entertainment, and much more. The result is a high release rate of all types of apps. There is suddenly a huge market, which has resulted in the creation of massive competition. All developers are focused on releasing their apps with the quickest turnaround.
The need to reach the market instantly has enhanced an age-old challenge for application developers – security. Security testing is imperative for quick apps launched during the time of this pandemic. This is one aspect you cannot ignore in the race to beat the competition and reach the market at the earliest. This is where you cannot ignore the importance of security testing services.
Covid-19 & The Surge in Popularity of Apps
When you take a look at the growing popularity of apps in different parts of the world, there are some interesting observations. These observations also provide insights into the potential security threats that are faced by apps and the data behind them.
Healthcare apps in South East Asia have emerged as the most popular apps. 6 of the top 15 mobile apps on Google Play store in South Korea were recently found to be about tracking Covid-19 pandemic. Developers of many apps state that source their data from government information have claimed a huge surge in the number of downloads since they launched their products. There has been a growth of 110% in spending on healthcare apps after the outbreak of coronavirus.
Real Estate Apps
Real estate is another sector that has experienced a surge in demand for apps. The most notable impact has been seen in Middle-East Asia. However, Covid-19 restrictions in many parts of the world have caused a slowdown in the popularity of real estate apps.
Mental Wellness Apps
The pandemic has also increased the demand for mental wellness and meditation apps. Apparently, people are finding these apps beneficial in dealing with sleeplessness and anxiety. According to a report, the top 10 mental wellness apps (English language apps) recorded 2 million more downloads in April 2020 against January 2020.
Even when most educational institutions are closed, online education apps have gained widespread popularity and downloads. Users are not only relying on apps to facilitate online classes but also to fuel their need for e-learning. With so much time at their behest, tens of millions of users are exploring new online learning opportunities.
There are many other types of apps that have gained widespread popularity during the pandemic. As apps are downloaded by more and more people, it means access to a greater number of user data. You cannot take security testing lightly in such a scenario.
Need for Security Testing Services
A security development lifecycle is a must if you want to create a secure app. You should consider and test security across the entire project lifecycle. Security/ Penetration Testing, secure code reviews, and security architecture reviews should be an integral part of the SDLC. This becomes even more important in a situation when the app deals with key information and sensitive data.
Security testing involves an active analysis of the technical flaws, vulnerabilities, and weaknesses of an app. It is important to address the following security concerns when testing your apps, not just during this time of quick releases, but also during ordinary times:
- Confidentiality: All information must be accessible to only those having authorized access.
- Authentication: To establish the identity of the user.
- Integrity: To allow the receiver to determine that they are receiving correct information.
- Availability: To ensure that all communication and information services are readily available on demand.
- Non-Repudiation: Preventing later denial about the happening of an action.
It is also important to test the effectiveness of authorization features.
Why Mobile App Security Testing is So Important in this Scenario?
Explore the different reasons why app security testing is imperative during this time when you are releasing new apps continuously:
1. Prevent Potential Attacks
Security testing services help prevent potential attacks by guessing the behavioral patterns of attackers. There is never any certainty of how your app can be attacked. It can include:
- Hacking into the app
- Stealing data
- Attacking backend systems
Security testers can anticipate potential future scenarios and mitigate relevant risks. Such services can guess potential attacker behavior and use the information to uncover flaws in the code. The flaws can thus be fixed before hackers can exploit them.
A penetration test is an example of such a security test. It involves the use of sophisticated tools and in-depth knowledge to guess attacker behavior. It also helps thwart attempts by attackers to access higher permissions and privileged information without authorization.
This will involve mock attacks by testers no different than a real attack attempting to break into the app to document the vulnerabilities. This can also include remote attack, man-in-the-middle attack and social engineering attacks.
2. Changes to Architecture of Network & App Components
As app downloads continue to experience a sudden surge, it has become increasingly important for developers to prevent any major security breaches after an app goes live. Security testing services can bring effective changes to the following elements before releasing the app:
This requires evaluation of the app for vulnerabilities in the source code, security loopholes, bottlenecks, and potential attack vectors. It is important to fix issues before the release, as it is convenient and cheaper than addressing them later. Taking action during this step can help eliminate or minimize costs in many areas including PR and legal. In an environment when your app will potentially be downloaded by millions, any security breach can become a major legal and PR disaster.
3. Worry-Free App Release
Security testing services help you ensure a worry-free app release. Before an app is deployed in an IT environment, it has to pass technical and user acceptance tests. This helps ensure it aligns with the business and technical requirements. Acceptance tests assure that an app meets end-user requirements.
4. Meet Security Compliance Requirements
Security testing also allows you to meet stringent industry security compliance requirements before releasing your app. It is easy to ignore intensive compliance security testing in situations like the present when there is a massive demand for apps.
Compliance has a continuous role to play in preparing for, responding to and recovering from cyber incidents. Security testing services can help ensure that your app meets at least the following standards:
- ISO 27001
- FIPS 140-2
At the speed that many businesses are embracing mobile, you cannot take the risk of developing apps that are vulnerable to security threats.
5. Securing Application Code
Another reason you cannot ignore security testing services is that it helps secure not only your proprietary application code but secure code review also gives great visibility into the vulnerabilities that come with the usage of third party commercial and open source code. Releasing apps without proper and comprehensive testing can create loopholes in the app’s source code. Any such loopholes can be targeted by cybercriminals.
Hackers can create malware that takes control of the user device and can access sure data. Security testing can involve evaluation of entire code quality. This can help identify any loopholes in the code that can make your app vulnerable to such attacks. 3 different methods are used for such analysis:
- Static Analysis (including software composition analysis a.k.a SCA)
- Dynamic Analysis
- Forensic Analysis
6. Preventing Data Leaks
Data leak is a major threat, especially at a time when both business and personal data are stored on the same device. Your apps will access personal user data to deliver a personalized experience. If your app is not tested, any vulnerabilities can increase the risk of data leaks in the present or in the future.
Experienced security testing services can eliminate any risks of data leaks. This is achieved by evaluation of hard-coded data including:
- Application code
- Data in transit
- Personal & business data stored on the device
7. Preventing Real-Time Security Threats
Security testing plays a vital role in preventing real-time security threats. Many cyber attackers distribute malware that attacks an app at the time of execution. Such malware try to change the app’s functionality through the submission of malicious input during runtime.
Therefore, it is important to implement strategies to protect your apps from real-time security threats. Security testing services can identify malicious input submitted at the time of runtime. This is enabled through the use of the latest technologies such as runtime application self-protection or RASP. Such measures can prevent malware from making changes to your app’s configuration.
There are many more reasons you should seek security testing services for your quick apps launching during the coronavirus time.
You may also enjoy: Top 6 Upcoming Security Testing Trends in 2020
Need for Demonstrating App Security
As governments and organizations release apps focused around the coronavirus pandemic, they will have access to a wide range of user data. This makes it essential for organizations to demonstrate app security meeting the highest industry standards.
Covid-19 related healthcare apps have created a new set of security challenges. Phones with such apps can exchange information with each other when placed close together. In many cases, this creates a log of each phone’s owner in the proximity. This tech is used to alert contacts if they have been in the proximity of a Covid-19 person.
Security testing services can help ensure that such apps can meet the highest and most stringent standards in security, privacy and safety. Unfortunately, there is no handbook that addresses such new challenges that arose in these times; that can maybe present itself as a common global standard. Some of the different areas such services can help include the following:
Interactive analysis services provide the best of dynamic and static testing. They are focused on the most common and risk-prone flaws. They also enable custom rules for personalization of threat coverage for certain enterprises.
Interactive testing from security testing services can handle apps of all sizes. This is important considering that dynamic and static tools cannot scale well. These traditional tools not only require expertise in set up and execution, but also for studying the results.
Static testing may not check frameworks/libraries. This limits vulnerability analysis. On the other hand, dynamic testing is limited to checking the exposed surface of the application. The result is that you can miss out on significant security components in apps. Interactive testing from security testing services can help ensure that the complete app is tested from inside out. This means greater coverage over the complete codebase.
Users are exploring different ways to manage their lives in this time of lockdown. With everyone having a smartphone, apps are providing a world of new entertainment, learning, and other opportunities for the masses. Studies show that users spent 20% more time on apps in Q1 2020 when compared to Q1 2019. It was also the quarter with the largest record spend on app stores, with a figure of more than $23 billion.
Consumers are relying on apps to support them in different ways during the pandemic. With such a massive surge in demand for apps, developers must take all measures to ensure that only the most secure apps make it to the market. If you fail to realize the importance of security testing services, you will be putting your business at risk of repercussions of massive scales.