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Top 10 Mobile App Security Vulnerabilities Banks Should Avoid!

Is it alright to merely build a fintech app with an expansive list of features and intuitive UI/UX design? Definitely, not okay, when mobile banking – perhaps the most significant innovation from users’ perspective – comes with several risk factors.

Why so? When customers propel the use of personal gadgets to access their bank functionalities, security turns out to be a top concern. Look at some of the most prone applications to data thefts and breaches – mobile banking apps where users store a large part of sensitive data.

While all these open a favourable gateway before cybercriminals, it is essential to put mobile app security testing at the front. Before jumping to the solution, we’ll look into key terms pushing the security concern, including the top 10 mobile app security vulnerabilities.

Knowing the term – digital transformation in banking

Product/services relationship with users is getting more intimate in the current digital landscape. The use of cutting-edge technologies, cloud computing mechanisms and several other factors contribute to the outcome.

According to multiple sources of reports, 70% of users rely on mobile banking apps as the primary way of accessing their accounts. People want instant access to their money wherever they are. The worry factor towards mobile banking has shifted.

However, the condition will not outshine the security requirement anyway.

While digital transformation locomotes benefit users on one side, potential risks are rising on the other side. Mobile app security testing is one way to address the crisis, proving your fintech applications are secure in every aspect regarding data security and privacy.

The difference in mobile banking app development

It is not always the same outlook that you need while developing applications. For instance, application development for the banking sector demands a more critical eye for security than any other domain. It is because of the sensitivity that the domain encases.

Here, the development process should align with a security-first approach. Adequate resources are needed to apply healthy security rules to mobile applications. The banking apps

should head through strict security assurance and quality tests. Mobile application security testing is one way to prove aforesaid.

Common types of cyber-attacks in the banking sector

Attackers can use multiple means to attack your m-applications. However, there are some typical intrusions or attacks every fintech firm needs to keep its eyes pointed. Here we enlist 5-types of attacks approaching your way while developing m-applications.

  •  Man-in-the-middle (MiTM) attacks

The malicious parties try to intercept critical information during its transfer between a bank and an app to utilise the stolen data thereon for hacking a user’s account.

  • Infrastructure breaches

These attacks usually target servers. Their intent is to steal credentials such as passwords, usernames, and other private information.

  • Mobile malware

You might have heard that malware marks systems or computers. However, there exist several other malware for preying on user gadgets and smartphones.

  • Clickjacking

It is a technique used by attackers to encourage users to click on a button or part that ultimately triggers malicious actions. The specific attack technique looks to get hold of confidential data.

  •  Pirate apps

Here, a mobile banking app gets reverse-engineered by hackers. Later the infected version gets distributed, helping attackers gain access to the data of users already seated with the pirated version.

Top mobile app security vulnerabilities in the banking sector

  • Improper use of the mobile platform

iOS and Android have their unique security features, such as TouchID or permissions systems. Failure to use them correctly can be a big misstep. Every platform provides guidelines for making secure applications and sticking to them can help you evade many threats.

The risk: If there is an improper implementation of platform features, user-critical data might go corrupt.

The solution: To avoid the issue, deploy platform-specific best security practices for the mobile interface & server-side operations.

  • Insecure data storage

Applications use data, and thus they need some data storage. All your storage solutions, especially internal storage, require protection as they handle sensitive information. Insecure data storage is one of the most common vulnerabilities exploited rounding m-applications. Testing and securing for secure data storage is the first step to preventing data leaks.

The risk: Confidential data can be accessed from insecure data storage and used for various illegal actions, like looting money from a victim’s accounts.

The solution: Use encryption techniques and secure algorithms to protect sensitive content in the internal storage.

Insecure authentication

Modern-day applications, especially banking apps, offer users many authentication ways, such as unique user credentials, PINs, fingerprint scanning, etc. Strong authentication lets users handle assets within the application in a secure manner.

The risk: Weak authentications can go easy bypassed by malware. Hence, sensitive information is under the threat of unauthorized intrusion or access.

The solution: Apps should have server-side authentication options outside local authentication options, if possible. Further, no app should store the user’s credentials on the device.

  • Insecure authorization

Authorization means the roles and permissions for users to access a particular application. A sound authorization policy would mean that each user has only the required level of access to the data asset for performing their tasks.

The risk: Insecure authorisation may permit users to access data restricted to another role. An attacker can easily exploit this weakness and gain access to critical information.

The solution: Avoid leaning on roles and permissions enforced on the mobile device. Instead, place roles and permissions based on server data.

  •  Uncertain transmission

Mobile applications disseminate with external data sources like Bluetooth devices, NFC, etc. As the core functionality of applications depends on these devices, the communication channel gets critical. Weak protection measures in this area can result in data leaks in no time.

The risk: Using modern-day tools and techniques, hackers can externally access the communication traffic of a device. It leads to fraud or identity theft.

The solution: Enable encryption to all communication using SSL, alongside leveraging proper communication security tools like solid authentication or encryption algorithms.

  • Insufficient cryptography

Entities should note that raw data is never safe. For applications, data should get encrypted using robust algorithms. Cracking the encryption usually needs too much time and processing ability for any potential attacker to succeed. However, many fintech apps lack the required strength in used algorithms, resulting in data leaks and more attacks.

The risk: Breakable encryption or no cryptography-based security binding exposes users’ critical data. It can possibly lead to further attacks.

The solution: Use robust algorithms and standards tested and accepted for the industry. Avoid storing sensitive data on a mobile device, making it accessible only from a server.

  •  Weak coding

Any application’s backbone is its codebase that should be tested secure for continual and safe operations, including m-apps. Consistent coding patterns, codebase quality, test coverage, proper layering, regulation adherence, etc., mark essential criteria of a healthy code. Poor code quality makes it very tough to maintain an application for the long haul. Likewise, any change in the code, such as a new feature, may raise different vulnerabilities.

The risk: Attackers can steal sensitive information using various code analysis tools and techniques if the code is unhealthy.

The solution: Use consistent coding patterns, perform a secure code review analysis and follow mobile app security best practices. Further, well-document your code to help new developers on the team understand and concede with those coding patterns.

  • Code tampering

Tampering is the process of transforming a mobile app (either the compiled app or the running process) or its environment to influence its behaviour. Attackers might tamper with API calls and execute malicious code. They alter the app’s code to make a modified or fake version of it.

The risk: An attacker may block the communication, steal data, or gain access to unauthorized parts of the app (e.g. stored user data).

The solution: All mobile code is vulnerable to code tampering. Mobile code runs on different platforms that are not under the control of the developers of the code. The mobile app should detect at runtime any alterations to the code from what it knows about its integrity at compile time. The app should respond properly at runtime to a code integrity violation.

  • Reverse engineering

Reverse engineering typically marks the process of accessing the source code of an application from a compiled file and studying it to learn the app’s business logic. Attackers can even use reverse engineering to know the underlying security tools of the application.

The risk: Reverse engineering may expose backend authentication secrets. Reverse engineering may give an attacker valuable information on app logic and its security measures.

The solution: Use code obfuscation tools, pushing it hard for attackers to determine logical connections between parts of your code.

  • Outdoor functionality

Programmers create backdoors to access hidden functionalities, making the development process easy to work. It could be log displays or shortcuts to different code parts. If these hidden functionalities are left open in a live app, it may expose sensitive data.

The risk: It relies on hidden functionality. Specimens include users accessing restricted features and resulting in data leaks.

The solution: Perform a secure code review as a part of mobile app security testing, ensuring all unwanted code never evades the production phase.


With all the above-discussed vulnerabilities rounding the fintech mobile applications, entities need to ensure two things foremost: –

1. Pick a development company having knowledge and experience in working with a security-first mindset.

2. Prioritize your security efforts. Keep in mind that security flaws can expose your customer data, impacting your business reputation and trust.

Remember that in a critical industry, even a small security issue can spoil the trust customers vest in your company. Hence, it is better to rely on an experienced mobile application security testing company that can help you secure your critical applications against existing and probable risk vectors. When it comes to security testing of mobile apps, ValueMentor is a highly qualified and trusted cyber security partner for years. Make your security call today and book your consultation with us.

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