Every year, new technologies are released; with them, professionals are discovering new sets of application vulnerabilities. However, some threats and challenges are constant in the list, such as malware and app spoofing. However, all the threats are now more powerful with the advancement of tools.
Further, it’s expected that the mobile app security challenges will be more rigid in 2024. So, before the year 2024 fastens its seatbelt and starts drifting, you should understand the challenges, preventions, and forecasts mentioned here.
So, let’s get started.
What is Need To Understand App Security Challenges and Trends?
The digital ecosystem is becoming more sophisticated with the constant advancement of development, testing, and security technologies. If the app creators are gaining the benefits, then attackers also use the same technology to exploit applications.
According to Verizon’s Mobile Security Index Report, 70% of successful attacks occurred at endpoints. Also, the primary way attackers used to enter a mobile device is through applications. Either they used outdated or cracked versions of the apps. Once they made their space, malware attacks started.
Due to this, the application development organizations and their users/customers suffer. Cost, data integrity, availability, confidentiality, and other IT resources were somehow impacted.
So, if you don’t want such things to happen to you, then understanding challenges, mitigations, and forecasts is the way out.
Top Application Security Threats To Consider
The following are the top threats you must tackle to safeguard your mobile apps in 2024.
1: Privilege Escalation
Privilege escalation is quite a common cyber-attack executed by illegitimate actors. Its primary purpose is to gain unauthorized access to the administrative account and perform data breaches or similar operations without any hurdle.
Mobile applications are a common target of attackers to perform this attack. It aids them in getting access to the mobile data and images, contacts, media files, and user credentials stored on the device. Due to this, the complete security of the user is on the verge of being disclosed on public platforms and even used by hackers for personal purposes.
Whether 2022, 2023, or 2024, it’s a high-priority threat for mobile apps.
2: App Forging and Spoofing
Nowadays, lakhs of people use cracked versions of applications and freeware available on third-party websites. Deep down, end-users don’t know that providing a cracked or free version of a paid app on such platforms is a form of attack. It helps the hackers to avail of permissions on a device, create backdoors, and transfer data to their servers.
In addition, some attackers also use phishing attacks to reach out to users and manipulate them to download their malware-infected applications. Also, according to the Internet Crimes Report, phishing has been the top choice of attackers to exploit mobile phone users.
3: Insecure Software Supply Chain
An insecure software supply chain is more of a vulnerability that can provide long-term access to core app operations to the attacker. If an illegitimate actor exploits the app at any software development lifecycle phase, they can modify its working and hide their malicious code.
Because of this, the organization will release the software as legitimate, but secretly, the hacker will execute its tasks. The firm’s reputation and cost will be highly impacted. In addition, it can lead to data breaches of thousands of users at once.
4: Malware Attacks
Currently, numerous kinds of malware attacks are used to exfiltrate user devices. Among them, the most popular are spreading viruses, creating backdoors, installing spyware, and ransomware. If your mobile apps don’t align with the defined standards, there’s a high possibility of facing such attacks or developing vulnerabilities for them.
Some of the common use cases are as follows where the malware attacks are likely to occur:
- Usage of a mobile application downloaded from a third-party website.
- When the app is installed without checking its authenticity.
- When the software supply chain or digital certificate is compromised.
- When the user is a victim of a phishing attack.
5: Unpatched Vulnerabilities or Outdated Components
When the applications use outdated components, such as APIs and databases, it’s considered a welcome to the attackers. Whether it’s 2023 or the upcoming 2024, using the latest patched version of tools, development frameworks, APIs, and other components is always recommended.
If you utilize the unpatched versions and weak logic, it can lead to the following attacks:
- Dictionary attacks
- Denial of Service attack
- Privilege Escalation
- Exploitation and modification of access list and authentication controls
- SQL injection attack
- Brute force attach and much more
Exclusive Mitigation/Security Mechanisms To Be Safe in 2024
In 2024, you should follow the following mitigation mechanisms and security best practices to secure your mobile applications and strengthen the IT infrastructure.
1: Define Policies
Policies are one of the most prominent ways to make mobile apps secure. You should analyze all the use case aspects and implement the policies accordingly. Implementing access lists can significantly benefit you, as they are easy to configure and modify as the business requirements change.
Furthermore, there can be policies at the user’s endpoint. For instance, you can disallow your employees to download any third-party app on a company-provided device. It will help you ensure that only legitimate apps are being used.
2: Train and Test
With the advancements in attack mitigation and prevention guides, training the users about what’s wrong and what’s right is considered a highly beneficial method. It helps the users identify between legitimate and illegal applications.
In addition, it supports the users in thinking thoroughly and provides only essential permissions to an application.
In an organization, all the employees must be trained to patch significant loopholes and be safe from cyber-attackers. And if possible, online campaigns can also be started to alert the average people to secure themselves. Lastly, after providing the training, you should conduct internal tests to know the current security status.
3: Utilize Software Trust Manager
Software Trust Manager from DigiCert is considered relevant for securing the software supply chain. It aids the mobile app development teams in the following aspects:
- All the app development operations are kept secure.
- The SDLC-associated data retains its integrity and confidentiality.
- All the processes are logged and monitored constantly.
- The collaboration between team members is increased.
- Cyber-attackers are prevented from exploiting authentication and authorization.
Before entering 2024, you should use a trust manager, such as DigiCert Software Trust Manager. It’s easy to operate and manage and also aligns with all necessary standards.
Recommended: What is DigiCert Software Trust Manager?
4: Frequent Scans and Update
Frequently scanning and updating the devices can help to detect malicious applications. If any app will be running any additional code, it will also be showcased and even automatically removed. You should use devices with built-in malicious code scanners, such as Samsung, due to the availability of Knox security software.
In addition, updating the device and legit applications leads to patching the vulnerabilities and disabling the way for attackers. Therefore, you should update the apps with newer versions for better functionality, compatibility, security, and performance.
5: Compliance with Industry and Regulatory Standards
Complying with standards will help the organizations develop secure applications and provide additional assurance to the users. It will help both the development teams and the end-users.
The development team will work according to the required protocols, making the apps secure in all use cases. And the users will don’t have to worry about installing a forged application. In 2024, the government policies will be stricter, so it’s high time to start complying with the rules and regulations.
Furthermore, once you comply with the standards, you will analyze minimal vulnerabilities, errors, and glitches. Thus, the attack surface will be reduced, as well as the cyber-attacks.
6: Use of Code Signing Certificate
A Code Signing Certificate must be available with all mobile app developing applications. Also, the end-users should be trained to understand its significant functioning and purpose.
Signing a code can help the development teams retain its integrity and prevent unauthorized modification. In addition, with the certificate’s timestamping functionality, software can be made valid even after the certificate expiration.
Further, if end-users learn about code signing, they can differentiate between the legit and spoofed applications during download and installation. When an app is not signed, every device shows a warning for it. On Windows, an Unknown Publisher Warning is displayed. Similarly, every device alerts the users about forged apps.
In 2024, a Code Signing Certificate must be used, and users should be trained/communicated about its purpose, usage, and requirements. As a result, phishing and malware attacks will be reduced.
2024 App Security Forecast from Top Professionals
The security and application development professionals have analyzed all the current factors and stated the following app security forecast for 2024.
#1: AI at its peak
In 2024, Artificial Intelligence will be highly used on both sides – the development and the exploitation. Mobile apps will be integrated with a lot of components based on AI models. Primarily, it will help the development team enhance user experience, personalize it, and ensure complete security.
On the other hand, attackers will also use AI to decrypt data, find and exploit vulnerabilities. 2024 is going to be an equal opportunity for the app creator as well as the destroyer. Thus, the professionals need to prepare themselves accordingly.
#2: Usage of Custom Secure Development Lifecycle
With cyber-attacks being more sophisticated and exploiting the software supply chain, companies will start to customize the SDLC methodologies. Numerous firms are testing their development methodologies, incorporating development, testing, operations, security, and all other teams.
Recommended: Secure SDLC Approach For Preventing Cyber-Attacks
Until the middle of 2024, you will see several organizations following their custom methodology, tools, and best practices. The primary purpose of going the custom road is to identify threats per industry and follow a secure approach accordingly.
#3: Reliance on Threat Data
Most application developers will rely on threat data to create secure software in the upcoming year. It will provide them with the following benefits:
- Developers will understand current vulnerabilities and try to patch them in new apps.
- They will know about the latest attacks and configure security mechanisms to prevent them.
- They will utilize the latest version of the framework and tools.
- They will comply with the latest regulatory, administrative, and industry standards.
As a result, in 2024, threat data will be a primary requisite for developers.
#4: Inclusion of Security Professionals in Every Team
You are going to see security professionals in every development team. Human resources with industry-accredited certifications and experience will be handling the app security. The tasks to find and patch vulnerabilities will become more strict, faster, and robust.
In addition, multi-layer app testing will be implemented, where different teams will test the app before its release. Moreover, compliance executives will be a part of the team to ensure that software is signed and aligned to the business needs and necessary protocols.
In recent years, mobile apps have been the attacker’s target, and in 2024, it will continue. Malware, spoofing, phishing, privilege escalation, and all other attacks will be executed.
Policies should be defined to secure the users from data breaches and other exploitations, the software supply chain should be secure, and standards must be met. Also, the organizations must watch 2024 predictions and modify their strategies and tools accordingly.