The Increased Need to Protect Mobile Apps

Our Third Annual State of Mobile App Security Report Reveals Sobering News about the Most Popular Apps

In mid-November, we released Arxan’s annual State of Mobile App Security report. Hot on the heels of the WireLurker malware, Masque Attack exploits and an investigative report by the Associated Press on how easy it is to hack an app, our research was especially timely and useful to the media, developers, and our customers.

Our research revealed that 97% of the top 100 paid Android apps and 87% of the top 100 paid Apple iOS apps have been hacked. In addition to an increase in app hacks found for commonly downloaded Popular Free apps, this year’s research also revealed evidence of widespread hacking of financial services, healthcare/medical, and retail/merchant apps, largely driven by hacks of Android apps.

The findings of increased app hacking are especially noteworthy amidst today’s rapid growth in global mobile app usage. Free app downloads are forecasted to increase at a rate of 99% to reach 253 billion downloads in 2017, and paid app downloads are projected to reach almost 15 billion, a 33% increase by 2017. This explosion in app usage is seen across all verticals and led by apps running on the Android mobile operating system, which continues to dominate with 85% market share.

The report included key recommendations to improve the security of mobile applications, including that:

  • Applications with high-risk profiles running on any mobile platform should be made tamper-resistant and capable of defending themselves and detecting threats at runtime.
  • All applications should be developed to maintain the confidentiality of the application/code.
  • The software that is used to enable mobile wallets/payment apps (e.g., Host Card Emulation software) should be protected with secure crypto and app hardening.
  • Organizations should consider mobile app assessmentsto assess if existing apps are exposed to risks that are unique to mobile environments. Also, as part of the mobile app development lifecycle, organizations should conduct Penetration Tests that, among other things, should assess vulnerability to reverse engineering and tampering that can result from unprotected binary code.

Our report and the accompanying infographic included key recommendations to improve the security of mobile applications.

Read our report and view our infographic here.

Read the press release here.

Preventing Reverse-Engineering of Applications with Runtime App Self Protection: Arxan’s Enhanced Mobile RASP Capabilities

With the growing number of data breaches and security and privacy risks, the need to implement secure solutions is becoming more diverse and immediate. In addition to traditional firmware or machine-to-machine security approaches, the application layer also requires protection from hacker threats.

As such, our enhanced Runtime App Self Protection (RASP) capabilities announced today provide runtime tamper detection capabilities for Java applications and add protection features into the application runtime environment to give applications another level of protection from malicious attacks.

These RASP capabilities, as part of our application protection technology, address today’s sophisticated attacks with security measures that:

  • Accurately identify and block attacks, given visibility into an application’s logic and data flow
  • Check to ensure that the application is running in a safe environment (e.g., detecting if an app is running on a jailbroken device or if a debugger is running, that could enable attackers to examine a program while it is running)
  • Detect malicious activity from other running apps via Swizzling or Hooking
  • Respond to runtime attacks with customizable actions, which may include:
    • Replacing tampered code with the original code during runtime
    • Exiting the application safely when a runtime attack is detected
    • Alerting monitoring systems that an attack has happened

Accordingly, in Gartner application security analyst Joseph Feiman’s recent Maverick report, he advises that CISO’s should “make application self-protection a new investment priority, ahead of perimeter and infrastructure protection. Perimeter protection technologies cannot protect what ceases to exist — the perimeter, which dissipates in the mobile, consumer-oriented and cloud-oriented world.”

To learn more about Arxan’s innovative approach to RASP, please email info@arxan.com.

Arxan shortlisted for Appsters Award

Arxan has been shortlisted in the upcoming Appsters Awards under the category, Best App Technology! The awards will take place in London on November 12.

The Appsters Awards are a must-attend for the who’s who in the world of apps. The award winners are decided by a judging panel of independent experts, delivering plaudits to worthy winners across key categories.

Our mobile application protection technology protects from revenue loss, fraud, unauthorised data access, or brand loss from reverse engineering, code tampering or inserting malware into an application. This integral protection enables app owners to distribute core assets with confidence by incorporating self-defence and tamper-resistant attributes via proprietary controls into the app.

According to ABI Research the mobile application security market grew to $389 million by the end of 2012, the need for protection and security within mobile applications is of high importance. Our unique app hardening capability ensures the integrity of critical business or security logic contained in the mobile endpoint is protected from attacks that can result in severe financial and reputational damages.

Fingers crossed the judges are impressed with the pioneering mobile application protection technology that we have to offer. Keep your eyes peeled for further announcements nearer the time of the awards on November 12.

Don’t forget to come and visit us at stand 322 at Apps World between 12 -13 November at ExCel Centre, London. Also, be sure to join us at our panel session at the event “New technologies in mobile banking & financial services and their impact on the customer experience”, taking place on November 12 at 4:30pm GMT.

To find out more information about the event, please visit https://www.apps-world.net/europe/

Protecting Brand and Intellectual Property from Hacking Attacks: Arxan’s Integrated Solution in Xamarin Evolve Panel and Workshop

With the ever-increasing threats and data breaches, mobile app protection is quickly becoming the defining attribute for high-value mobile apps.

An efficient approach to layer incremental security is critical now more than ever during the build process and before deployment.

Arxan’s integrated and enhanced solution announced today ensures seamless interoperability for enhanced application protection with Xamarin-based mobile apps – which will be further discussed at Xamarin’s own conference, Xamarin Evolve, in a panel and workshop with Arxan.

The panel, taking place on Wednesday, October 8, from 2:30pm – 4:00pm ET, will center on how to best secure your sensitive data in the app, on the device, and over the wire – with insights from Arxan VP of Product Management Vince Arneja and moderator & Xamarin Director of Enterprise Mobility Steve Hall, as well as fellow panelists and representatives from Airwatch, Good Technology, and Mobile Iron.

Also taking place at Xamarin Evolve is the workshop, Think Like a Hacker! Common Techniques Used to Exploit Mobile Apps and How to Mitigate these Risks, led by Arxan engineer Darren Cathey on Thursday, October 9, from 11:15am – 12:00pm ET. During this session, attendees will learn just how easy it is for hackers to leverage widely available third party tools to completely disable and compromise mobile apps.

To meet with Vince and/or Darren at the event, please stop by our booth (#4) or email info@arxan.com.

Revolutionizing Security for mCommerce: Arxan’s Software-Based Approach in Upcoming Webinar and Industry Panel

As mCommerce is driving up mobile payment transactions around the world, cybercriminals are closely following with new exploits increasingly being launched as a means to commit mobile transaction fraud.

As such, a proven mCommerce security approach is in great demand, in order to combat top mobile app payment risks and emerging threats that impact mobile financial transactions.

Arxan’s innovative approach to secure mCommerce announced today, serves as a point of discussion in the webinar, “Revolutionary Security for HCE Mobile Payments.”

The webinar being held tomorrow (Tuesday, September 30) from 11:00 AM – 11:30 AM EDT will present this newly announced approach, as well as beliefs on how software-based security has revolutionized the mobile payment industry. Host Winston Bond (Arxan’s Security Solutions Architect) will delve into the value from adopting this approach, with payment providers and ecosystem stakeholders being able to fully leverage the mobile computing platform.

For registration details, please visit: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/316988458

Also, Arxan’s VP of Product Management, Vince Arneja, will be providing more information on the software-based security approach at the Mobile Payments Conference, as a speaker on the industry panel, “Keeping Mobile Commerce Secure,” on Oct. 7th at 4:15 pm.

Arneja will discuss the exposures and risks among mCommerce ecosystem’s critical industry stakeholders and will address the role of key security approaches needed for strong defense.

If you’d like to schedule a meeting at the show with Vince to discuss Arxan’s comprehensive software-based security, please email us at info@arxan.com.

We hope to see you at the webinar and conference!

Think like a Hacker! Featured events at AppSec USA hosted by Arxan

AppSecUSA logo

The first step in learning how to protect and defend your applications from Hackers is to think like one….

Arxan’s security experts will be hosting a few exciting and exclusive events during AppSec USA in Denver, CO on September 18 & 19.  Highlights below:

workshopMobile App Hacking Workshop 

We’ll be hosting the first-ever hands-on, interactive Mobile App Hacking Workshop during the OWASP AppSec USA 2014 Project Summit.

The inaugural workshop will be led by security experts and will uniquely enable attendees to immediately apply their app protection learning’s in their own environments in order to mitigate app binary risk and implement new approaches on mobile app security.

Dates/Times:  September 18 , 1:00PM – 3:30PM  & September 19,  9:00AM – 11:30AM

Attendees:  This complimentary and specialized workshop is intended for mobile app developers and security experts to gain first-hand knowledge / experience of reverse engineering hacking techniques on iDevices using widely available third party tools. These tools are used to completely disable and compromise mobile app binaries to gain unauthorized access to source code, then tamper with the app to enable unauthorized access, advanced malware attacks, steal sensitive data or intellectual property, conduct fraud and other illicit activities.  Attendees will:

  • Learn about the evolutions in the mobile threat landscape
  • Learn how hackers use third party tools to compromise app integrity via reverse-engineering and tampering attacks (e.g. Clutch, IDA, Hex-Rays, otool, classdump, Theos, gds/nm/strings debuggers, etc.).
  • Explore findings from mobile banking red-team testing projects at several top global banks
  • Customized workstation and jail broken devices are included in the workshop as well as a sample mobile banking app

Limited Seating and Pre-qualification:  Workshop seats are limited to 10 per day and will last up to 2.5 hours. To fully engage in the workshop, interested participants need to have advanced app development and computer engineering skills.  Due to the severely limited size, participants will receive confirmation upon completion of pre-qualification questions from the following survey.

 

“How to Hack an App”  Demo Series at Arxan Booth G1

These demos will showcase the nefarious tools and methods that hackers use to identify targets within an app and intrude on it’s critical code.  Stop by to see for yourself how mobile apps are being attacked using these common techniques to exploit applications!

Dates: September 18 & 19

Times:

11:00 AM  See How Your Binary Exposes Your Source Code

3:00 PM  Binary Modification for n00bs (newbies)

4:00 PM  Breaking iTunes Code Encryption

 

Free Mobile Application Assessment

We’ll also be offering a free Mobile App Assessment where Arxan’s mobile app security experts assess your mobile app for exposures to key risks. Not attending? Request the Mobile Application Assessment here.

If you’d like to schedule a meeting at the show to discuss Arxan’s application protection solutions, please email us at info@arxan.com

We hope to see you at the event!

Arxan Presents ‘Revolutionizing Mobile Payments’ at the UL Innovation Seminar

UL

Arxan is thrilled to announce our participation in the upcoming UL Innovation Seminar, focusing on hardware vs. software-based security solutions. See below for details on our session:

Session Title:  Revolutionizing Mobile Payments; Without the Complications of Hardware

Speaker: Jonathan Carter, Technical Director, Arxan

Date: Friday, September 5, 2014

Time:  1:30pm-2:00pm

Location: Hyatt Regency San Francisco, Airport

Description: Innovation in mobile computing is now going beyond hardware attributes to deliver new features, services and most significantly, the required security for new business models. During this presentation, Jonathan Carter will share his belief on how innovations in software-based security have revolutionized the mobile payment industry.  Baring the shackles of fragmented hardware ecosystems, these innovative software security techniques provide a new trusted secure element.  The value from adopting this approach enables providers to fully leverage the mobile computing platform and confidently deploy new financial services to finally achieve widespread distribution and adoption.   The success that other industries have already realized in terms of customer growth, scalability and confidence in security will also be shared.

We cordially invite you to attend the seminar and join our session! Register here, space is limited.

We look forward to meeting you at the event!  Email us at info@arxan.com if you’d like to set up a meeting with us.

Arxan Presents ‘How to Hack an App’ Demo Series at Black Hat 2014!

black-hat-2014-620x201 Arxan_logo_bitmap_web

Arxan is sponsoring the upcoming Black Hat USA 2014 Expo, August 6-7, in Las Vegas.  If you’re planning to attend, we hope to see you at our booth (#1127) to view Arxan’s exclusive ‘How to Hack an App Demo Series!

These round-the-clock demos will showcase the nefarious tools and methods that hackers use to identify targets within an app and intrude on it’s critical code.  Stop by to see for yourself how apps are being attacked using these common techniques to exploit applications:

Black Hat Demos Booth 1127

 

Additionally, here are a few more highlights and offers from our booth at Black Hat that you don’t want to miss!

  • Is your “secure” mobile app unknowingly exposed to reverse engineering and tampering?  We’ll be offering a Mobile App Assessment.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You’ll work with one of Arxan’s mobile app security experts who will assess your app for vulnerabilities and measure it’s exposure to key risks.
  2. We’ll then provide you with a customized report detailing your app’s level of exposure and likely attack points.

This report is a complimentary offer for you– when you come by, just say:                       “Assess my mobile app”!

OWASP says…‘A lack of binary protections results in a mobile app that can be analyzed, reverse-engineered, and modified by an adversary, exposing the app and its owner to a large variety of technical and business risks.

Learn more about the OWASP Mobile Security Project at our booth (#1127).

  • Mobile Application Protection Handbook: Pick up your free copy with key insights from security experts on new mobile attacks and risk mitigation strategies to support secure mobile app development and defend against hackers.
  • Discounted Briefings Pass: Register with Arxan’s priority code bQTBnL03 to save 25% on the standard price ($2,195). These are limited, so sign up today!

If you’d like to schedule a meeting with us at the show to discuss Arxan’s application protection solutions, please email us at info@arxan.com.

We hope to see you at the Summit!

HOW TO HACK A MOBILE APP: IT’S EASIER THAN YOU THINK!

We live in a mobile, personal world, where nearly a billion new mobile phones ship each year. Businesses that are most efficiently adapting to today’s “app economy” are the most successful at deepening customer engagement and driving new revenues in this ever-changing world. Where business opportunities abound, opportunities for “black hats” that conduct illicit and malicious activity abound as well.

Mobile app hacking is becoming easier and faster than ever before. Let’s explore why:

  • It’s Fast: Recent research found that in 84 percent of cases, the initial compromise took “just minutes” to complete
  • It’s Relatively Easy: There are automated tools readily available in the market to support hacking, and many of them are available for free!
  • Mobile Apps are “Low-Hanging Fruit”: In contrast to centralized Web environments, mobile apps live “in the wild,” on a distributed, fragmented and unregulated mobile device ecosystem. Unprotected binary code in mobile apps can be directly accessed, examined, modified and exploited by attackers.

Watch the Demos: How to Hack an App Video Series

Hackers are increasingly aiming at binary code targets to launch attacks on high-value mobile applications across all platforms. For those of you who may not be familiar, binary code is the code that machines read to execute an application — it’s what you download when you access mobile apps from an app store like Google Play.

Exploitable Binary-based Vulnerabilities

Well-equipped hackers seek to exploit two categories of binary-based vulnerabilities to compromise apps:

Code Modification or Code Injection:
This is the first category of binary-based vulnerability exploits, whereby hackers conduct unauthorized code modifications or insert malicious code into an application’s binaries. Code modification or code injection threat scenarios can include:

  • A hacker or hostile user, modifying the binary to change its behavior. For example, disabling security controls, bypassing business rules, licensing restrictions, purchasing requirements or ad displays in the mobile app — and potentially distributing it as a patch, crack or even as a new application.
  • A hacker injecting malicious code into the binary, and then either repackaging the mobile apps and publishing it as a new (supposedly legitimate) app, distributed under the guise of a patch or a crack, or surreptitiously (re)installing it on an unsuspecting user’s device.
  • A rogue application performing a drive-by attack (via the run-time method known as swizzling, or function/API hooking) to compromise the target mobile app (in order to lift credentials, expose personal and/or corporate data, redirect traffic, etc.)

Reverse Engineering or Code Analysis:
This is the second category of exploitable binary vulnerabilities, whereby mobile app binaries can be analyzed statically and dynamically. Using intelligence gathered from code analysis tools and activities, the binaries can be reverse-engineered and valuable code (including source code), sensitive data, or proprietary IP can be lifted out of the application and re-used or re-packaged. Reverse engineering or code analysis threat scenarios may include:

  • A hacker analyzing or reverse-engineering the binary, and identifying or exposing sensitive information (keys, credentials, data) or vulnerabilities and flaws for broader exploitation.
  • A hacker lifting or exposing proprietary intellectual property out of the application binary to develop counterfeit applications.
  • A hacker reusing and “copy-catting” an application, and submitting it to an app store under his or her own branding (as a nearly identical copy of the legitimate application).

You can see examples of these hacks “brought to life” on YouTube (see video below as well), and a summary of Binary Exploits is provided in the graphic. Whether your organization licenses mobile apps or extends your customer experience to mobile technology, the norm is that hackers are able to trivially invade, infect and/or counterfeit your mobile apps. Consider the following:

Reverse Engineering or Code Analysis (Confidentiality)

Code Modification or Code Injection (Integrity)

  • B2C Apps: Eight of the top 10 apps in public app stores have been hacked, according to Arxan State of Security in the App Economy Research, Volume 2, 2013. This means that anyone developing B2C apps shouldn’t assume that mobile app store-provided security measures are sufficient. Often these security measures rely on underlying assumptions, such as the lack of jailbroken conditions on the mobile device — an unsafe and impractical assumption today.
  • B2E Apps: In the case of enterprise-internal apps (B2E), conventional IT security measures such as MDM (mobile device management) and application policy wrappers can be valuable tools for device management and IT policy controls for corporate data and application usage, but they aren’t designed to protect against application-level hacking attacks and exploits.

Time to Secure Your Mobile App
With so much of your organizational productivity riding on the reliable execution of your apps, and such a small a barrier for hackers to overcome superficial threat protection schemes, you could face significant risk unless you step up the protection of your application. It’s time to build trust in apps not just around them.

WHITE PAPER: SECURING MOBILE APPS IN THE WILD WITH APP HARDENING AND RUN-TIME PROTECTION

Application Hardening and Run-Time Protection are mission-critical security capabilities, required to proactively defend, detect and react to attempted app compromises. Both can be achieved with no impact to source code, via an automated insertion of “guards” into the binary code. When implemented properly, layers of guards are deployed so that both the application and the guards are protected, and there’s no single point of failure. Steps one can take to harden and protect apps at run-time are readily available.

Recent history shows that despite our best efforts, the “plumbing” of servers, networks and end-points that run our apps can easily be breached — so isn’t it high-time to focus on the application layer, as well?

Below are 7 common techniques that hackers are using to exploit applications. Select from the playlist below to view short videos (1-2 minutes or less) that demonstrate how it’s done:

  • iTunes Code Encryption Bypass 
    • See how easy it is for hackers to bypass iOS encryption to progress a mobile app attack.
  • Android APK Reverse Engineering
    • Watch how hackers can easily reverse engineer binary code (the executable) back to source code and primed for code tampering
  • Algorithm Decompilation and Analysis 
    • See how “Hopper” is leveraged to initiate a static, springboard attack for counterfeiting and stealing information
  • Baksmali Code Modification
    • Learn how hackers can easily crack open and disassemble (Baksmali) mobile code.
  • Reverse Engineering String Analysis 
    • Watch how hackers use strings analysis as a core element for reverse engineering
  • Swizzle with Code Substitution 
    • Learn how hackers leverage infected code to attack critical class methods of an application to intercept API calls and execute unauthorized code, leaving no trace with the code reverting back to original form
  • Understanding application internal structures and methods via Class Dumps
    • Learn how hackers use this widely available tool to analyze the behavior of an app as a form of reverse engineering and as a springboard to method swizzling

How banks are securing mobile banking applications for the future

There has been a bit of a buzz on the security of financial and banking apps following an article published yesterday on the Daily Mail, which looked at the techniques of reverse engineering and the damage they could do to insecure applications.

This article raises some valuable points on vulnerabilities that can exist in unprotected mobile banking applications.  A crucial element that also demands awareness is the strong security measures that many of our financial institution customers are proactively undertaking to ensure that mobile banking can be very secure.

Our customers are deploying banking apps and mobile solutions that include diverse and layered security methods that mitigate these exploits in order to make sure these hackers do not gain access to valuable data or tamper with the application.

From working closely with our customers, whether they are in the banking sector or otherwise, we know that the security of the app is one of their top priorities and an integral part of their wider mobile strategy.  By adopting technologies such as our  App Protection solutions in conjunction with additional mobile security layers, including some proprietary inventions, they are delivering apps that are tamper resistant and secure against reverse engineering.

Leading financial institutions and services companies are undertaking a set of security best practices to ensure that their innovative mobile application is secure from modern day threats.  These include:

–         building security directly into the mobile app binary so that it is hardened from reverse engineering and hacker attacks,

–         applying secure coding practices, including vigorous app testing and vulnerability scanning techniques with remediation

–        deploying app security that includes policy guards (controls) that can automatically detect app “health”, or any jail-broken or rooted environments

–        finally, include within the app, customized reactions and safeguards that enable the bank to either terminate suspicious transactions and contact customer support.

Banking through securely developed mobile applications can be, and is, a highly secure environment in today’s modern world.   In some cases it could be argued that it may be more secure than online banking via a PC as it leverages the latest innovations in security and protects against many of the newest risk and threat vectors.