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Mobile Application Penetration Testing Methodology


    During the penetration testing procedure, it is critical to remember to collect information.   Open Source Intelligence: It may be able to learn more about a certain application. Search engines are used to scan through used third-party libraries, while source code repositories, developer forums, and social media are used to look for leaked source code.   Understanding the platform: A complete grasp of the platform is required for application penetration testing. When constructing a threat model for the application from a distance, this provides a clear understanding.   Client-side vs. server-side scenarios: It is critical to understand the application type (native, hybrid, or web) and work on the test cases.


    Static Analysis: In contrast, static analysis examines the application’s source code, configuration files, and resources without running the programme. It focuses on locating potential flaws, unsafe coding techniques, incorrect setups, and other problems that can be found by statically inspecting the application’s code. Static analysis can be carried out either directly on the source code, if it is accessible, or on the decompiled source code obtained by reverse engineering.  Tools: Static analysis tools like FindBugs, QARK, AndroBugs, or manual code review.  Local file analysis: When the programme is installed, it is given its own folder on the filesystem. While in use, the programme will write to and read from this directory. To ensure this, the application will analyze every document it accesses.  Dynamic analysis: Dynamic analysis is carried out when the device’s application is running. As part of this, the local filesystem is forensically examined, as is the network traffic between the programme and the server and the app’s local inter-process communication (IPC) surface(s).  Tools: Dynamic analysis tools like Burp Suite, OWASP ZAP, Frida, Wireshark, Drozer, or manual testing.  Reverse Engineering: In Android penetration testing, reverse engineering involves the process of analysing the compiled APK file to understand its inner workings, behaviour, and functionality. It typically involves decompiling the APK to obtain the corresponding Java source code, which can be further analysed. Reverse engineering allows testers to examine the application’s logic, identify potential vulnerabilities, and gain insights into its implementation details.  Tools: Decompilers like JADX, Apktool, and JADX-GUI, or disassemblers like IDA Pro. 

    Network and web Traffic: 

    Analyse the application’s network traffic to identify vulnerabilities, insecure protocols, or data leakage.  Intercept and modify network requests and responses to test for injection attacks or insecure communication practices.  Tools: Proxy tools like Burp Suite, OWASP ZAP, Wireshark, or network traffic interception libraries like Frida.  Endpoint analysis for inter-process communication: Android apps are made up of the following IPC endpoints:   Intents are signals used to communicate communications between Android system components.   Screens or pages within the application are referred to as activities.   Access to databases is provided by content suppliers.   Services: These run in the background and do tasks whether or not the main programme is running.   Broadcast receivers: These are applications that receive and perhaps act on intentions sent by other applications or the Android system. 


    Exploitation is a phase in the penetration testing process where identified vulnerabilities are actively exploited to gain unauthorised access, gather sensitive information, or compromise the security of a system or application. In the context of Android penetration testing, exploitation refers to the process of leveraging discovered vulnerabilities within an Android application or its environment to achieve a specific goal, such as bypassing authentication, executing arbitrary code, or accessing sensitive data. 


    Reporting is a crucial step in Android penetration testing as it communicates the findings, vulnerabilities, and recommendations to the relevant stakeholders, including the application owner or development team. An effective report provides a clear and concise overview of the testing process, identified vulnerabilities, their impact, and suggested remediation measures.   


    Mobile Application Penetration Testing by Vijay Kumar Velu 

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