What is Mobile Application Security?

The COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of bring your own device (BYOD) policies have made mobile devices a core part of normal business operations. With this growing usage of mobile devices in the workplace comes increased interest in them from cybercriminals. Vulnerabilities in mobile apps leave their users and the enterprise at risk of exploitation, making mobile security more important than ever.

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What is Mobile Application Security?

How Mobile Application Security Works

Mobile application security solutions are intended to perform the same purpose as traditional application security: preventing the exploitation of vulnerabilities within enterprise applications. However, organizations commonly have less control over the mobile apps that their employees use, mobile devices have built-in security issues, and mobile applications often lack the same level of security as traditional desktop applications.

 

Security teams face significant challenges in securing enterprise mobile devices. To provide comprehensive protection, mobile application security requires defense in depth to minimize the chance of a successful exploit.

1. Scanning

The first step in protecting an organization’s mobile applications against exploitation is decreasing the organization’s mobile attack surface. An organization can accomplish this by identifying and remediating the risks posed by vulnerable apps before a device can be exploited by an attacker.

 

An important component of mobile app scanning is the use of a Mobile Application Reputation Service (MARS). A MARS solution scans mobile applications for potential vulnerabilities and monitors them for suspicious behaviors that could indicate built-in backdoors or compromise by an attacker. Based on a MARS report, an organization can evaluate the risk posed by a mobile application and take appropriate steps to mitigate these risks.

 

This use of MARS for mobile application security testing (MAST) can be essential to protecting an organization against major security incidents. Recently, Check Point Research discovered security configuration issues in mobile apps that left the personal data of over 100 million users exposed. Many of these security issues were plainly visible in a MARS report.

2. Hardening

After addressing any known vulnerabilities in its mobile applications, an organization should consider the potential for unknown vulnerabilities. Mobile applications are coming under increased scrutiny by cybercriminals looking to identify ways to steal sensitive data or implant malicious functionality on a user’s mobile device.

 

Making these types of attacks as difficult as possible is an essential part of a mobile security strategy. For this reason mobile application security solutions should offer hardening for an organization’s mobile apps. This includes integrating functionality such as code obfuscation, anti-tampering, app integrity checks, and more, to make it more difficult for cybercriminals to reverse engineer or modify a mobile application. By taking simple steps to raise the difficulty of performing a successful attack, an organization can dramatically decrease its probability of compromise.

3. App Protection

Managing the risks of known vulnerabilities and hardening mobile apps against exploitation is useful. However, these solutions can only go so far, and it is possible that an attacker may be able to slip through the cracks and mount an attack on a vulnerable mobile application.

 

For this reason, mobile device security should also include active protection for mobile apps running on employees’ devices. A mobile runtime application self-protection (RASP) solution can protect mobile applications against exploitation even by novel and zero-day attacks.

 

RASP protects against zero-day threats by leveraging deep visibility into the internals and runtime state of a mobile application. By monitoring the inputs, outputs, and behavior of the mobile app, RASP can determine the impacts that particular inputs have on the application’s behavior.

 

A successful attack against a mobile application will cause it to act in unusual ways, and these anomalous actions are exactly what RASP solutions are monitoring for. By looking for and responding to unusual behaviors, RASP can detect attacks that it has never seen before simply because these attacks cause the protected application to misbehave in some way.

Mobile Application Security with Check Point

Mobile applications are becoming an important part of how companies conduct their daily business. Many employees prefer to work from mobile devices, and the rise of remote work and BYOD policies has given them the freedom to do so.

 

However, this switch to mobile devices has introduced new security challenges for businesses. Often, these devices and apps are less secure than traditional computers and organizations lack the tools to properly secure them.

 

Check Point’s Harmony Mobile enables organizations to integrate their employees’ mobile devices into their existing security strategies. Harmony Mobile provides the complete range of protections that mobile applications require, including MARS, Appdome ONEShield Mobile App Hardening, and RASP for mobile apps.

 

To learn more about Harmony Mobile’s capabilities and see it in action for yourself, request a free demo.

You’re also welcome to see how Harmony Mobile can improve the security of your organization’s mobile devices with a free trial.

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