Mobile Application Attacks, Static and Dynamic 

Mobile app security

Mobile apps have become an integral part of our daily lives. From social networking and entertainment to banking and communication, nearly everything can be done on a smartphone. Because sensitive information is commonly stored in these apps, an increasing number of hackers now view them as a prime target. With the number of features and functionalities in these apps expanding at a fast pace, so does the number of attacks trying to capitalise on it. 

It is not a mere technical problem, but a matter of escalating static and dynamic mobile applications attacks that affect many businesses and organisations around the world. This kind of attack not only damages a business’s reputation but also may lead to financial losses, serious privacy and data breaches. The nightmare of static and dynamic attack vectors should be overcome by knowledge of complex static and dynamic mitigation strategies. 

This research investigates the nuanced distinction between dynamic and static mobile application attacks and how they work. 

Static analysis: What is it?  

Static analysis is a fundamental automatic procedure for mobile-app security that analyses the source code of mobile apps without executing it. Static analysis could be used before an application is shared with the end users as a preventive measure to make sure the app is secure, efficient, and compliant with all the requirements. This is crucial given the sensitive data used by the mobile apps and the number of attacks focused on mobile platforms. 

How does it work? 

The static analysis tool’s main purpose is to check code, understand the patterns that may be a problem, and provide feedback to the developer to help them fix these problems before software is built or deployed in use. 

A preventive measure is essential to ensure enhancement in software application quality, security, and performance. Many vulnerabilities will be discoverable through static analysis, from logical errors to defects in coding and unsafe configurations. 

Coding vulnerabilities in Android apps create loopholes that attackers can exploit to gain unauthorised access to sensitive data and often cause faulty management in shared preferences or external storage. 

Defects in the logic of a program can be used to gain unintended behaviour by attackers. For example, banking software with different account types and obligations to end-users can limit the choice for secondary users to specific functions. Moreover, insecure settings can also be used by attackers to gain access or cause a crash to the application.  

Dynamic analysis: What is it? 

Dynamic code analysis, otherwise called Dynamic Application Security Testing, is a way of analysing computer software for probable vulnerabilities. In mobile app security, DAST is essential and detects buffer overflows, format string vulnerabilities, injection attacks, and vulnerable APIs; it points out vulnerabilities arising from the interaction of the app with the mobile ecosystem. For instance, making varying conditions with a device will lead to several different unique vulnerabilities while testing the GPS and data synchronise features of a fitness app. Dynamic code analysis is requisite to keeping software secure. 

How it works:  

Dynamic code analysis performs the research and identification of issues in the software, visible only at the time of its execution. This makes it a real-time analysis, unlike static techniques. 

It means running a program in an isolated environment, usually feeding it many test cases, to test data transmission or connectivity. Dynamic analysis techniques are utilised by monitoring tools that observe probable errors and, in the process, expose memory leak problems, security vulnerabilities, and performance bottlenecks. The reporting will also give an account of where the problem lies and its characteristics like stack traces or even memory dumps which will enable the developer to effectively understand and resolve the problem.  

Static (SAST), Dynamic (DAST), RASP: How are they different?  

SAST attacks are static against vulnerabilities in non-running code. Conversely, DAST attacks are dynamic and reveal flaws during runtime. RASP is a proactive and real-time defense mechanism inside the application. It is thus important to understand the difference for both holistic application security. On the other side, static attacks only target vulnerabilities in non-running code, while dynamic attacks reveal flaws during run time. RASP plays a critical role in a layered security strategy. 

Here’s a breakdown of how they differ: 

Static Attacks: 

Static attacks are a form of cyber threat aimed particularly at the source code or the compiled binaries of an application. Such attacks are executed before the application comes into active use. Understanding static attacks becomes very critical for developers and security professionals in having the applications secure at the code level itself. Nature of Attacks: Static attacks are based on some vulnerabilities that can be identified by static code analysis or by binary analysis alone, without the application running. Examples include exploiting unpatched vulnerabilities found in the application’s binaries, hard-coded credentials, etc. 

 
Dynamic Attacks: 

Dynamic attacks occur at runtime and take advantage of the vulnerabilities appearing during the execution of the application and when it is live and interactively involved with users or systems. The nature of these attacks becomes dynamic and requires different strategies for detection and prevention than static attacks. 

Nature of Attacks: 

The attacks targeting the vulnerabilities manifesting during the runtime of an application will exploit their flaws in real-time operation and user interaction. Examples include SQL injection and Cross-Site Scripting, where attackers use the application’s runtime interactions. 

RASP 

Runtime Application Self-Protection is a next-generation security technology deployed to protect applications from attacks in real-time. Unlike static or dynamic attacks, RASP is a defensive measure offering integration with an application for the identification and mitigation of threats at runtime. Nature of Attacks: RASP is a protection system against a wide-ranging series of attacks in real-time that keeps the application under active monitoring for threats. 

Examples: RASP systems can detect and block attacks, such as SQL injections, while they are happening and prevent unauthorized data access or modifications. 

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