Most Common Mobile App Security Issues

A lock on a phone screen, representing most common mobile app security issues

Mobile apps are a growing part of the business landscape, but they still need to be adequately secured. This article will explore some of the most common mobile app security issues and how you can avoid them.

SQL Injection

SQL injection is a code injection technique that exploits the insecure handling of user-supplied data by SQL-based relational database management systems (RDBMS). In a typical SQL injection scenario, the attacker first crafts input data so that the RDBMS will interpret it as part of a query or command. The attacker then causes this crafted input to be sent to an application server containing an RDBMS. Because many RDBMS commands accept parameters in their queries, someone can manipulate those parameters to execute unintended commands on behalf of the querying user.

The most common attack vector is through web applications that use dynamic SQL queries to generate reports based upon user inputs with little or no validation on those inputs. 

Data Leakage

Data leakage refers to the accidental sending of data to a location it wasn’t intended for. Here, we’ll go over some of the most common causes of data leakage and how you can prevent them in your apps.

Application memory management is one of the main sources of data leakage (and other mobile app security issues like memory leaks). This happens when an app is constantly overwriting important information stored within its memory. It prevents old information from being accessed later. An example would be if an app were supposed to store something like a user’s credit card number in its database but instead wrote over this information with another person’s credit card number because they needed space in their database for something else.

To avoid this problem: always check whether or not you’re overwriting anything before writing new data. If possible, keep track of all current users’ info so you know who has access to what. Set up regular backups, so that old records aren’t lost forever!

Session Management

Session management is maintaining a single-user session in a web application. It’s important to ensure that users can access only the resources they are authorized to access.

Session fixation

An attacker creates a valid session ID and then passes it to another user, tricking him into using it. This may allow attackers to hijack the victim’s account.

Session hijacking

An attacker steals an existing valid session. He then uses it to impersonate a legitimate user or perform unauthorized actions on their behalf. The attacker may gain control over sensitive data (e.g., confidential information).

Denial-of-service attacks

Denial-of-service (DoS) attacks make an application or service unavailable. It achieves that by overwhelming it with superfluous requests from multiple sources simultaneously. For example, flooding an application with queries until its database becomes overloaded and crashes because it can’t handle all those queries simultaneously. 

Improper Input Validation

This is a widespread mistake in mobile app development. It’s easy to overlook input validation when you’re focused on building the app. Still, it’s one of the serious mobile app security issues that can lead to critical data loss and even malware infection.

Input validation refers to checking whether the data entered into your application matches what you expect it to be or if there is any malicious intent. It also includes checking the inputs’ length and ensuring they fit into specific parameters. For example, “input name” cannot be longer than ten characters. Another important aspect of input validation is validating formats. For instance, knowing that an email address has at least one @ symbol before accepting it as valid.

Inadequate input validation allows hackers opportunities for entry into your network via flaws in your code. Suppose hackers can inject malicious code into an app developed without proper input validation or other security measures. In that case, they may be able to access sensitive information stored on their servers or databases through those same flaws later down the road (or during initial installation).

Hardcoded Passwords

Hardcoded passwords should be avoided at all costs. A hardcoded password is written directly into a mobile application’s source code. This makes it easier for hackers to gain access to a database or other resources. These types of passwords are typically very easy to spot, so they’re usually not much use as an actual key when trying to break into an application’s database. However, they can still be useful in cases where you want someone else within your organization (i.e., another engineer) to access this resource without knowing how things work behind the scenes.

Poor Authorization & Authentication

Authentication and authorization are two different but related functions of security. Authentication is the process of confirming a user’s identity, while authorization determines whether or not a user is allowed to access a resource.

Poorly implemented authentication and authorization can lead to data leakage. The attacker can bypass them altogether or trick them into granting access when no such right exists. Some examples include:

  • Weak passwords or factors (e.g., username and password) that hackers easily guess
  • Password reset systems that allow users to reset their passwords without first verifying their identity
  • Lack of multi-factor authentication (MFA). It requires users to identify themselves through more than one form factor (e.g., biometrics + PIN code)

Unintended Data Storage

Data storage problems are some of the most common mobile app security issues. The most common scenario is storing data so an unauthorized person can access it. This may happen due to failing to encrypt the data before storing it or storing sensitive information with weak encryption.

An app designed for sensitive tasks can store sensitive user data such as passwords, account numbers, and personal information without any encryption or protection from unauthorized access by third parties. These apps store personal details using an unencrypted format so that anyone who gets hold of those confidential details can easily retrieve them back again without trouble!


Developers should be aware of these common mobile app security issues and take the necessary steps to ensure their applications are secure.