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November 2, 2023

Foundation 101: mastering mobile app security with OWASP MASVS 2.0

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Foundation 101: mastering mobile app security with OWASP MASVS 2.0

Mobile AppSec teams rely on OWASP MASVS and MASTG for secure app policies. Build38’s solution is aligned with the latest OWASP MASVS 2.0, helping organisations deliver faster, and secure Mobile Apps that meet industry standards.

In April 2023, OWASP introduced the latest iteration of its Mobile Application Security Verification Standard, known as OWASP MASVS 2.0 (OWASP Mobile Application Security Verification Standard 2.0), effectively supplanting the previous OWASP MASVS 1.x release.

Adhering to MASVS controls helps organisations build secure Mobile Apps, reducing the risk of breaches and safeguarding user data. Whether used as a metric, guidance, or baseline, MASVS is a crucial tool for bolstering Mobile App security.

In this blog post as part of the OWASP Mobile Security Foundation 101 series, we’ll dive deep into the key changes, explore how these updates further strengthen the security of your Mobile Applications, and also examine any limitations to provide a comprehensive understanding.

 

OWASP MASVS 2.0: updated mobile application security framework unveiled

The OWASP Mobile Application Security Verification Standard (MASVS) is the industry benchmark for Mobile App security. It offers a comprehensive set of security controls to evaluate the security of Mobile Apps on different platforms and deployment scenarios.

The former three verification levels (L1, L2, and R) were transformed into ‘security testing profiles’ and integrated into OWASP MASTG. These profiles have been harmonised with the NIST OSCAL (Open Security Controls Assessment Language) standard, aligning them with a comprehensive catalog of security controls for information system security.

Also, the MASVS 2.0 introduces a fresh set of security control groups designed to bolster the protection of your Mobile Applications. These control groups include:

  • Storage: These controls guide developers in protecting intentional data storage and preventing leaks from API or system misuse.
  • Cryptography: These controls enforce industry-standard practices (e.g., NIST.SP.800-175B, NIST.SP.800-57) and emphasise sound cryptographic key management, ensuring robust encryption to protect user data.
  • Authentication and Authorisation: These controls ensure secure implementation, safeguarding user data and preventing unauthorised entry, with remote endpoint security validated using industry standards.
  • Network Communication: These controls are crucial for networked apps. It ensures secure connections, encrypted channels, and enhanced security through measures like certificate pinning.
  • Platform Interaction: These controls ensure secure platform interactions, covering IPC security, WebView configurations, and sensitive data display in the user interface to protect user information and prevent unauthorised access.
  • Code Quality: These controls tackle coding vulnerabilities from external sources, emphasising data verification, security checks, and best practices to avoid flaws and ensure app and platform updates for user protection.
  • Resilience Against Reverse Engineering and Tampering: These controls focus on securing the app’s runtime environment, preventing tampering, preserving intended functionality, and hindering code analysis, both static and dynamic, to deter attackers from modifying the code at runtime.

 

Related Article: Build38’s Top 10 most effective procedures for App Protection

 

Understanding the limitations of OWASP MASVS

OWASP MASVS serves as a valuable tool for enhancing Mobile App security, though it cannot ensure absolute security. It should be employed as a foundational framework for security requirements, with additional security measures tailored to address specific Mobile App risks and threats. Therewith, when using the MASVS, it’s essential to acknowledge the following assumptions:

  1. MASVS complements, not replaces, secure development practices.
  2. Assumes adherence to industry and country standards for App ecosystem.
  3. Assesses Mobile App security using static, dynamic, and network analysis.

 

Hence, the MASVS requirements can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to implement effectively without detailed knowledge of specific attack vectors and precise detection mechanisms. Therefore, they require expert knowledge for proper implementation.

Related: OWASP top 10 application security vulnerabilities

 

Expertise matters when navigating the mobile app security frontier

In conclusion, while MASVS provides a valuable foundation, it may leave novice security professionals seeking more guidance. This underscores the critical importance of mobile security expertise, and that’s where Build38 steps in, offering not only a wealth of security knowledge but also tailored solutions to meet your specific mobile security needs.

With a deep reservoir of security expertise and a commitment to continuous improvement, we ensure best-in-class security for your Mobile Applications. Embracing expertise, dedication, and comprehensive solutions is the key to safeguarding your digital assets and user data.

 

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