Mobile Applications have become an indispensable part of our daily lives, allowing us to seamlessly perform a variety of tasks and access information anytime, anywhere. But as our reliance on Mobile Applications continues to grow, so too does the specter of security vulnerabilities and potential breaches.
To address this ever-evolving landscape of mobile security threats, the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) has diligently refreshed its Mobile Top 10 list in 2023, providing invaluable insights into the most pressing risks confronting Mobile Applications.
In this comprehensive blog post as part of the OWASP Mobile Security Foundation 101 series, we take a closer look at each of the latest OWASP Mobile Top 10 Risks (Edition 2023), highlighting their potential impact and the vulnerabilities they cleverly exploit.
2023 OWASP Mobile Top 10 – Embracing Change While Acknowledging Constants
Over the past seven years, mobile threat landscapes have undergone unprecedented changes, necessitating a comprehensive reevaluation of the most critical risks faced by Mobile Applications.
In this latest iteration, the 2023 OWASP Mobile Top 10 encapsulates the dynamic nature of mobile security, offering fresh insights into emerging risks and the evolving priorities for safeguarding Mobile Applications. New threats have emerged, while some vulnerabilities have either merged or shifted positions within the top 10 list, mirroring the evolving mobile security landscape.While the Mobile Top 10 is vital, it doesn’t encompass all threats. Hackers and fraudsters extend beyond these 10. A complete mobile security strategy must address a wider array of vulnerabilities.
Mastering Mobile Security: A Comprehensive Guide to the 2023 OWASP Mobile Top 10
Let’s gain valuable insights into the evolving mobile security landscape through an in-depth exploration of the 2023 OWASP Mobile Top 10. We’ll not only dissect the critical vulnerabilities but also shed light on their real-world implications, emphasising the pressing need for robust security practices in the Mobile App development arena.
M1: Improper Credential Usage
Threat actors who exploit hardcoded credentials and improper credential usage in Mobile Applications may employ automated attacks, using readily available or custom-made tools. These actors have the potential to discover and exploit hardcoded credentials or take advantage of vulnerabilities stemming from improper credential handling.
M2: Inadequate Supply Chain Security
Attackers can exploit Mobile App supply chain vulnerabilities to manipulate app functionality, insert malicious code, and gain unauthorised access to mobile devices or backend servers. This poses risks of data theft, surveillance, denial of service, and device takeover.
M3: Insecure Authentication/Authorisation
Those who exploit authentication and authorisation vulnerabilities often employ automated attacks, utilising either readily available or custom-made tools.
M4: Insufficient Input/Output Validation
Poor data validation in Mobile Apps can lead to serious security risks like SQL injection, Command Injection, and XSS attacks. These vulnerabilities can result in unauthorised data access, app manipulation, and system compromise. Insufficient output validation can lead to data corruption and presentation vulnerabilities, enabling malicious code injection.
M5: Insecure Communication
Modern Mobile Apps often communicate with remote servers, and when data is transmitted, it can be intercepted or altered by threat actors if sent in plaintext or using outdated encryption methods. These actors may have various motives, including data theft, espionage, and identity theft. Threats can come from compromised or monitored local networks (e.g., Wi-Fi), rogue carrier or network devices (e.g., routers, cell towers, proxies) or malware on the mobile device itself.
M6: Inadequate Privacy Controls
Privacy controls safeguard Personally Identifiable Information (PII), like names, addresses, credit card details, email/IP addresses, and sensitive personal data. Attackers target this information for impersonation, fraud, misuse of payment data, blackmail, or harming victims through data manipulation or destruction. PII breaches can compromise confidentiality, integrity, or availability.
M7: Insufficient Binary Protections
Attackers targeting app binaries have diverse motivations. Binaries may hold valuable secrets like API keys or cryptographic data for misuse. The code itself, containing critical logic or AI models, can also be a target. Some attackers exploit apps to probe backend weaknesses. Beyond information gathering, they may alter binaries to access paid features, bypass security checks, or even inject malicious code for distribution on third-party app stores, deceiving unsuspecting users and reaping payments.
M8: Security Misconfiguration
Mobile App security misconfigurations involve improperly set security settings and permissions that create vulnerabilities and unauthorised access opportunities. Threat actors exploiting these misconfigurations seek unauthorised data access or malicious actions. These actors include individuals with physical device access and malicious apps exploiting misconfigurations to perform unauthorised actions.
M9: Insecure Data Storage
Insecure data storage in Mobile Apps can attract various threat actors seeking unauthorised access to sensitive information. These include skilled adversaries, malicious insiders, state-sponsored actors, cybercriminals, script kiddies, data brokers, competitors, activists, and hacktivists. They exploit vulnerabilities like weak encryption and improper data handling. Mobile App developers and organisations must prioritise strong security measures, including robust encryption and secure data storage practices, to mitigate these risks.
M10: Insufficient Cryptography
Exploiting insecure cryptography in Mobile Apps can compromise data confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity. Threat actors include those targeting cryptographic algorithms, malicious insiders manipulating encryption, state-sponsored cryptanalysts, cybercriminals exploiting weak encryption, and attackers leveraging cryptographic protocol vulnerabilities.
Balancing Mobile Security: From Threats to Business Consequences
While these threats present security vulnerabilities and technical challenges, their impact extends to multiple facets of business operations. Beyond the risk of financial loss, organisations can face reputational damage, regulatory penalties, customer attrition, diminished investor confidence, operational disruption, and the erosion of competitive advantage. Ignoring these profound business implications can have dire consequences.
Recognising and addressing these impacts underlines the importance for organisations to strengthen their security with robust measures and best practices to protect against a wide range of potential threats and vulnerabilities.
Elevating Mobile Security with Build38: Key Takeaways for a Safer Future
In mobile security, OWASP’s Mobile Top 10 is just the beginning. Understanding these risks forms a foundation for comprehensive security. This empowers developers and experts to take proactive steps, follow best practices, and adopt strict guidelines. So, as we move forward, let’s embrace this collective commitment to mobile security and navigate the mobile landscape together with confidence and resilience.