Through 2015, more than 75 per cent of mobile applications will fail basic security tests, reports Gartner.
This warning comes as employees continue to download from app stores and use mobile apps that have little or no security assurances, then use these to perform business functions.
“Enterprises that embrace mobile computing and bring your own device (BYOD) strategies are vulnerable to security breaches unless they adopt methods and technologies for mobile application security testing and risk assurance,” says Dionisio Zumerle, principal research analyst at Gartner.
“Most enterprises are inexperienced in mobile application security. Even when application security testing is undertaken, it is often done casually by developers who are mostly concerned with the functionality of applications, not their security.”
“Today, more than 90 per cent of enterprises use third-party commercial applications for their mobile BYOD strategies, and this is where current major application security testing efforts should be applied,” says Zumerle.
“App stores are filled with applications that mostly prove their advertised usefulness. Nevertheless, enterprises and individuals should not use them without paying attention to their security. They should download and use only those applications that have successfully passed security tests conducted by specialised application security testing vendors.”
They should download and use only those applications that have successfully passed security tests conducted by specialised application security testing vendors.
Gartner predicts that in two years, the focus of endpoint breaches will shift to tablets and smartphones – already there are three attacks to mobile devices for every attack to a desktop. The security features that mobile devices offer today will not suffice to keep breaches to a minimum.
Read more: Inside an ICT ‘shared services-plus’ model
Gartner recommends that enterprises focus on data protection on mobile devices through usable and efficient solutions, such as application containment (via wrapping, software development kits or hardening).
Through 2017, Gartner predicts 75 percent of mobile security breaches will be the result of mobile application misconfigurations, rather than the outcome of deeply technical attacks on mobile devices.
A classic example of misconfiguration is the misuse of personal cloud service through apps residing on smartphones and tablets. When used to convey enterprise data, these apps lead to data leaks that the organisation remains unaware for the vast majority.
Mobile testing: A new space
Zumerle says that existing static application security testing (SAST) and dynamic application security testing (DAST) vendors will modify and adjust these technologies to address mobile application cases and meet mobile application security testing challenges.
Although SAST and DAST have been used for the past six to eight years and have become reasonably mature, mobile testing is a new space, even for these technologies. In addition to SAST and DAST, a new type of test, behavioural analysis, is emerging for mobile applications.
The testing technology monitors a running application to detect malicious and/or risky behaviour exhibited by an application in the background (e.g., when an audio player application plays music — at the same time, it also accesses a user's contact list or geolocation, and initiates data transmission to some external IP address).
Testing the client layer — the code and graphical user interface (GUI) — of the mobile application that runs on the mobile device is not enough, says Gartner. The server layer should be tested as well. Mobile clients communicate with servers to access an enterprise's applications and databases.
Failure to protect a server poses the risk of losing the data of hundreds of thousands of users from the enterprise's databases. Code and user interfaces of these server-side applications should therefore be tested with SAST and DAST technologies, says the analyst firm.
Send news tips and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinap
Follow CIO New Zealand on Twitter:@cio_nz
Join the CIO New Zealand group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.