Using decompilers or disassemblers, threat actors can expose your mobile app’s internal logic and gain insight into its functionality. With this knowledge, threat actors can reverse engineer your app, steal your IP or sensitive data and identify ways to break down related systems’ and apps’ security.
After they’ve uncovered your app's internal logic, an attacker can do a lot of damage. They can steal proprietary information, extract credentials and API keys that will give them access to other systems and apps, unlock premium portions of the app, and more. Leveraging mobile app code hardening provides protection against static analysis to prevent these outcomes and preserve your app's integrity, your data and your brand’s reputation.
Research shows that despite developers' priorities, mobile apps still aren't secure enough.
Code hardening techniques render your code illegible without affecting its functionality, ensuring that malicious users who decompile your app won’t be able to easily interpret its internal logic. This category of mobile app security includes strategies such as encryption, removing certain metadata, renaming classes and variables, adding ancillary code, altering the structure of the code and more — all without altering the function of the code or the end user experience in a meaningful way.
Less than 10% of the top 3,000 financial services Android apps use additional code protection techniques beyond name obfuscation, leaving them open to reverse engineering.
Source: Report: Most mobile financial apps fall short of security best practices
Too often delayed to the end of the development lifecycle, security needs to be considered right from the start. As your app development progresses, testing, feedback and monitoring help you to ensure the highest possible level of security.
Mobile app security is most effective when it’s considered from the outset of the development lifecycle, which includes making informed design choices, following best practices as well as early rounds of testing and refinement. Ultimately, engaging in secure software development practices identifies security risks early, when they’re quick and cheap to fix, rather than after deployment.
Now that your app is implemented, it’s crucial that you incorporate defenses against reverse engineers in order to protect your intellectual property, prevent counterfeits and secure your data and your brand’s reputation. App shielding techniques like code hardening and runtime application self-protection (RASP) ensure that your mobile app can’t be easily reverse-engineered or tampered with.
You wouldn’t release your app without testing its functionality; nor should you without testing its security. Pentesting, or penetration testing, is often performed by third-party experts to attempt to identify security gaps in your app and gain insight into its internal logic, just as a threat actor would. A complement to pentesting is AppSweep, Guardsquare's automated mobile application security testing (MAST) tool.
Now it’s time to monitor your app's usage after its release, and track related threats in real-time. What are threat actors’ preferred attack vectors? How can you evolve to improve your defenses? Real-time threat monitoring can provide the answers.