Tag Archives: Gartner

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Mobile Application Security 101

Mobile Applications – Still Insecure

Businesses are racing to meet the demands for mobile applications, yet mobile application security is an afterthought, just as web application security was when web applications started to proliferate.

As an industry, we know so much about securing web applications that applies to mobile, but most organizations are still repeating past mistakes and making new mobile specific mistakes that expose businesses to security incidents.

According to a recent Gartner report, “Most enterprises are inexperienced in mobile application security.  Security testing, if conducted at all, is often done casually — not rigorously — by developers who are mostly concerned with the functionality of applications, not their security.[1]” In this same report, the firm indicates that “through 2015, more than 75% of mobile applications will fail basic security tests.[2]


Don’t Forget Mobile Web Services

There has been so much talk about mobile device and mobile client security, but the key thing to keep in mind when approaching mobile application security is that it’s critical to test both the client as well as the communication to the web service that powers it. For example, if you’re using your Twitter app, the primary logic that resides on the mobile client is display and user authentication. The app must then communicate to a web service in order to get and send Tweets. This web service is the real power of Twitter and where the real security risk lies. Why attack one user, when you can attack that web service that is used by millions?

Even though mobile applications leverage a client-server model, they are built with entirely new technologies that necessitate new processes, technologies and skills.  While mobile application security does drive these new requirements, the overall problem is one that the security industry is already well acquainted with because the vulnerabilities showing up in mobile applications aren’t new at all. We often say that we are “Hacking like it’s 1999” because, the reality is that mobile vulnerabilities are are just the same old vulnerabilities that we have been hunting for over 13 years now: SQL injection, overflow, and client attacks.

These new requirements for mobile testing are driven by the new programming languages used for building mobile clients (Objective-C and Android’s Java variant), the new formats used by back-end web services (JSON and REST) and the new authentication and session management options (OAuth, HMAC, etc). And while those familiar SQL Injection attacks look almost exactly like they did 10 ago, you just can’t find them without understanding how to deliver these attacks within the new structures.

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SQL Injection Alive and Well

We call the mobile vulns the Where’s Waldo of application security. They’re your old familiar friend, SQL Injection, who looks almost exactly like he did 10 years before – maybe with a few gray hairs – but you just can’t find him as easily because he’s in an all new environment. We simply need to adjust to this new landscape and start looking for our old friend again.

Another important thing to keep in mind about mobile application security testing is that there ARE tools that automate the process. There just aren’t that many of them that automate the entire process or do it very well.

We see several categories of security vulnerabilities in mobile applications:

More on Mobile Application Security


[1] [2]Gartner Research Document

Gartner, Technology Overview: Mobile Application Security Testing for BYOD Strategies, By Joseph Feiman and Dionisio Zumerle, August 30, 2013.

NT OBJECTives Positioned in the “Visionaries” Quadrant of the Magic Quadrant for Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST)

Recent Gartner research positioned NT OBJECTives in the Visionaries quadrant for Dynamic Application Security Testing(DAST).(i) Gartner’s report was published in December and is now available to all Gartner subscribers.

Analysts Neil MacDonald and Joseph Feiman state in the report that “Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) solutions should be considered mandatory to test all Web-enabled enterprise applications, as well as packaged and cloud-based application providers.” They go on to note that “the market is maturing, with a large number of established providers of products and services.”(ii)

We consider our positioning in the “Visionaries” quadrant by Gartner confirmation of our mission and ability to deliver technologies and services that solve today’s toughest application security software challenges. Web application security represents one of the greatest security challenges facing the information technology industry today. We will continue to innovate and deliver the products today’s security teams need. In the months ahead, we are excited to launch a number of products that will further enhance our market position and help our customers.

In the report, MacDonald and Feiman also note that “as organizations have improved the security of their network, desktop and server infrastructures, there has been a shift to application-level attacks as a way to gain access to the sensitive and valuable information they handle, or to use a breach of an application to gain access to the system underneath. In addition, there has been a shift in attacker focus from mass “noisy” attacks to financially motivated, targeted attacks. As a result of these trends, application security has become a top investment area for information security organizations, whether improving the security of applications developed in-house, procured from third parties or consumed as a service from cloud providers.”(iii)
Gartner clients may view a copy of the Magic Quadrant for Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) report via Neil MacDonald’s blog, “The Market for Dynamic Application Security Testing is Anything but Static”.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

About NT Objectives
NT OBJECTives, Inc brings together an innovative collection of experts in information security to provide a comprehensive suite of technologies and services to solve today’s toughest application security challenges. NT OBJECTives solutions are well known as the most comprehensive and accurate Web Application security solutions available. NT OBJECTives is privately held with headquarters in Irvine, CA.

(i) Gartner “Magic Quadrant for Dynamic Application Security Testing” by Neil MacDonald and Joseph Feiman, December 27,2011
(ii) Gartner “Magic Quadrant for Dynamic Application Security Testing” by Neil MacDonald and Joseph Feiman, December 27,2011
(iii) Gartner “Magic Quadrant for Dynamic Application Security Testing” by Neil MacDonald and Joseph Feiman, December 27,2011