Chapter 4Reviewing Application Security

Application security has been a hot-button topic since even before Android existed. During the onset of the web application craze, developers flocked to quickly develop applications, overlooking basic security practices or using frameworks without adequate security controls. With the advent of mobile applications, that very same cycle is repeating. This chapter begins by discussing some common security issues in Android applications. It concludes with two case studies demonstrating discovery and exploitation of application flaws using common tools.

Common Issues

With traditional application security, there are numerous issues that crop up repeatedly in security assessment and vulnerability reports. Types of issues range from sensitive information leaks to critical code or command execution vulnerabilities. Android applications aren't immune to these flaws, although the vectors to reach those flaws may differ from traditional applications.

This section covers some of the security issues typically found during Android app security testing engagements and public research. This is certainly not an exhaustive list. As secure app development practices become more commonplace, and Android's own application programming interfaces (APIs) evolve, it is likely that other flaws—perhaps even new classes of issues—will come to the forefront.

App Permission Issues

Given the granularity of the Android permission model, there is an opportunity for developers ...

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