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Most mobile apps will fail standard security tests, Gartner says

The market researcher says this poses a serious problem for businesses, where bring-your-own-device options are commonplace.

Charlie Osborne Contributing Writer
Charlie Osborne is a cybersecurity journalist and photographer who writes for ZDNet and CNET from London. PGP Key: AF40821B.
Charlie Osborne
3 min read


Seventy-five percent of mobile apps will fail the most basic of security tests next year, predicts market researcher Gartner.

The market researcher said Sunday that in 2015, the majority of mobile applications -- whether in the Android, iOS or Windows Phone ecosystems -- will not have basic business-acceptable security protocols in place. This poses a serious problem for the enterprise, where bring-your-own-device options are commonplace. Should employees download apps that can access enterprise assets or perform business functions but have no basic standards of security in place? If that is the case, Gartner said, not only are enterprise security policies at risk of violation but sensitive corporate data and networks may also become vulnerable.

"Enterprises that embrace mobile computing and bring your own device (BYOD) strategies are vulnerable to security breaches unless they adopt methods and technologies for mobile application security testing and risk assurance," Dionisio Zumerle, principal research analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. "Most enterprises are inexperienced in mobile application security. Even when application security testing is undertaken, it is often done casually by developers who are mostly concerned with the functionality of applications, not their security."

Zumerle said that existing static application security testing (SAST) and dynamic application security testing (DAST) vendors will need to modify and adjust their tests to address mobile technologies. Both SAST and DAST have been used for the past decade, but mobile applications -- due to their variety and reliance on continually evolving mobile operating systems -- are a fresh challenge.

Gartner believes that in addition to SAST and DAST, new kinds of tests based on behavioral analysis are emerging for mobile devices. These tests monitor the GUI and running background applications in order to detect malicious or risky behavior. For example, a music player that also accesses contact lists or geolocation could be suspicious.

However, these measures are not necessarily enough -- and enterprise users should also make sure servers, which communicate with mobile devices, are continually tested and protected.

"Today, more than 90 percent of enterprises use third-party commercial applications for their mobile BYOD strategies, and this is where current major application security testing efforts should be applied," noted Zumerle. "App stores are filled with applications that mostly prove their advertised usefulness. Nevertheless, enterprises and individuals should not use them without paying attention to their security. They should download and use only those applications that have successfully passed security tests conducted by specialized application security testing vendors."

Gartner predicts that by 2017, endpoint breaches will be focused on smartphones and tablets, and "security features that mobile devices offer today will not suffice to keep breaches to a minimum." In addition, the research firm recommends that businesses use application containment -- such as wrapping and software development kits (SDKs) -- to better protect data.

Through 2017, Gartner predicts that 75 percent of mobile security breaches will be the result of mobile application misconfigurations, such as the misuse of personal cloud storage in tandem with enterprise data.

This story originally posted as "Majority of mobile apps will fail basic security tests in the future: Gartner" on ZDNet.