Mobile App Security

What is Mobile App Security?

Mobile app security refers to the measures and practices used to develop and maintain applications that can protect themselves against various threats and vulnerabilities. To earn the trust of its customers, mobile-powered businesses must maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of user data on their mobile apps.

However, to understand and identify the level of security required, we must first understand where risks to mobile applications arise. Risks associated with mobile apps primarily emerge in three areas:


App teams focused on reducing time-to-market


Attackers downloading & reverse-engineering the app


End-users’ habits make the device untrustworthy

What's Next: A Platform Approach to Mobile App Security

Although traditional mobile app security practices and solutions have made significant progress in protecting apps, they have been unable to keep up with the evolving threat landscape. Most solutions are built for the web and retrofitted for mobile, are free or open source with little support, and provide little to no visibility and protection once published. In the face of increasing speed to market pressures, enterprises, and mobile-powered businesses need help to adopt practical mobile app security solutions.

Zimperium provides an alternative approach with a single, integrated platform that protects from mobile app development through runtime.

Zimperium’s Mobile Application Protection Suite (MAPS) A vital component of the Zimperium Mobile-First Security Platform™, MAPS helps enterprises build safe and secure mobile apps resistant to attacks. It is the only unified solution that combines comprehensive in-app protection with centralized threat visibility. The platform provides app shielding, key protection, app scanning, and runtime protection capabilities. In addition, a threat management dashboard provides real-time threat visibility and the ability to respond to emerging threats instantly without an app update. MAPS consists of four products:


Discover and fix compliance, privacy, and security issues within the development process before publicly releasing your apps.

Learn more about zScan


Protect confidential data by securing cryptographic keys with white-box cryptography so they cannot be discovered, extracted, or manipulated.

Learn more about zKeyBox


Harden and protect the app with advanced obfuscation and anti-tampering functionality to protect the source code, intellectual property (IP), and data within the application.

Learn more about zShield


Enable the mobile application to detect and proactively protect itself by taking actions on the end user’s device, even without network connectivity.

Learn more about zDefend

Top 5 Mobile App Security Best Practices

The primary objective of security best practices is to safeguard an organization’s data, systems, and networks associated with mobile applications. With these best practices, organizations can gain visibility into threats, detect threats proactively, comply with regulations, and respond to security incidents quickly, enabling them to build secure, compliant, and resilient mobile applications. The top 5 best practices are as follows:

  • Integrate Mobile-Specific App Scanning: Developers and testers should leverage mobile-focused binary scanning solutions to complement traditional source code scanners. These scanners focus on identifying and mitigating exploitable vulnerabilities that allow abuse and exploitation of stores and end-user devices.
  • Enable Runtime Threat Visibility: Embrace in-app security solutions that enable runtime threat visibility across device, malware, network, and phishing threat vectors. The real-time alerts allow SOC teams to monitor and respond to apps being abused continuously. Deep forensics enables app development teams to perform threat modeling to ensure they are secured against the most relevant threats.
  • Look Beyond Code Obfuscation: Code obfuscation is a significant first step to protecting mobile app code. But real protection lies in progressing towards comprehensive application shielding. Application shielding aims to prevent and detect tampering and reverse engineering attacks. Shielding is an in-app security technology, which means its capabilities are implemented directly within the application itself rather than on the server.
  • Focus on On-Device Protection: Mobile apps run on end-user devices outside the control of the app team. End-user cyber hygiene exposes apps to malware, rogue networks, compromised devices, and phishing attacks. As all these attacks occur on the device, the app must respond on-device without relying on network connectivity or cloud computing.
  • Move Toward Dynamic Security: Attack techniques, malware, and vulnerabilities are emerging more frequently. Using in-app security updates over the air can prevent these evolving risks without publishing a new app. Your solution should allow you to update detection capabilities and in-app threat responses dynamically.

Top Mobile App Security & Privacy Frameworks

By following several practices, developers can enhance mobile application security, including securing code, regular security testing, encryption of data, authentication mechanisms, updates, and patches, and staying on top of the latest security threats. Several widely used security and privacy frameworks can help you start your journey toward securing your mobile applications. Let’s look at the top frameworks:

  1. OWASP Mobile Security Project: The Open Web Application Security Project’s (OWASP) Mobile Security Project provides guidelines and best practices for creating secure mobile apps. It identifies critical security risks facing mobile apps as well as strategies on how to mitigate them effectively.
  2. Mobile Application Security Verification Standard (MASVS): The Mobile Application Security Verification Standard (MASVS), developed by OWASP, sets security requirements and serves as a testing guide for mobile apps. With three levels (basic, intermediate, and advanced), the standard seeks to assist developers with creating secure apps.
  3. Mobile App Security Requirements and Verification (MASVR) Framework: The Mobile App Security Requirements and Verification Framework from OWASP serves as another initiative that works alongside MASVS by offering detailed requirements and verification procedures for mobile apps to ensure they comply with necessary security standards.
  4. NIST Cybersecurity Framework: The NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) Cybersecurity Framework is a comprehensive set of guidelines, standards, and best practices to assist organizations in managing and improving their cybersecurity risk management, not just mobile applications. Click here for specific NIST guidance on Mobile Endpoint Security and Mobile Application Security.
  5. GDPR: GDPR stands for the General Data Protection Regulation. It is a regulation introduced by the European Union in 2018 to safeguard the personal data and privacy of EU citizens for transactions that occur within EU member states. It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU. GDPR ensures mobile apps prioritize user privacy by collecting only essential data and enhancing security measures, including robust encryption and regular testing. It mandates clear consent forms, promotes privacy from the design phase, and enforces accountability through regular audits and a verifiable compliance framework.
  6. PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard): For mobile apps that handle payment card data, PCI DSS provides essential guidelines for securing this data. Encouraging secure coding practices, regular testing, and ensuring compliance from any third-party vendors or services helps protect sensitive payment data.
  7. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act): For healthcare-related apps in the U.S., HIPAA compliance is essential for protecting patient data.

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