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The OWASP Mobile Application Security Verification Standard (MASVS): Meaning and Categories



Mobile application

The need to protect mobile applications has become essential as they have evolved into the main method for logging into online services and storing confidential information. The Mobile Application Security Verification Standard (MASVS), created by the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), offers developers a set of security requirements and guidelines to guarantee the security of their mobile applications. Thus, the different OWASP Mobile Application Security Verification Standard (MASVS) categories are given below.

Category 1: Threat Modeling, Architecture, and Design

The significance of designing and architecting mobile applications with security in mind is emphasized by this category. It also emphasizes how important it is to run a threat model analysis to find any potential security flaws or threats. The uses of this category are:

  • Security Measures: To safeguard against widespread mobile application attacks like SQL Injection and Cross-Site Scripting, this point emphasizes the use of secure coding practices and the implementation of security controls (XSS).
  • Threat Modeling: To find potential security threats and vulnerabilities in their mobile applications, developers must conduct a threat model analysis. Finding the assets that require protection and the possible risks connected to them should be part of the analysis.
  • Security Framework: The mobile application’s security architecture must be created to guarantee the confidentiality, integrity, and accessibility of sensitive data. Additionally, it ought to be built to guard against unauthorized access to the application.

Category 2: Data Storage and Privacy This category is concerned with maintaining user privacy and safeguarding sensitive data. When sensitive data is not properly protected, mobile applications frequently store sensitive information like login credentials, private information, and financial data that can be exploited by attackers. The uses of this category are:

  • Data Classification: To protect sensitive data, developers should classify the data according to its sensitivity.
  • Encryption: When storing sensitive data on a mobile device or sending it over the network, encryption is recommended.
  • User Privacy: To protect user privacy, developers should put in place the proper privacy controls, such as getting user permission before collecting and using personal data.

Category 3: Cryptography This category focuses on using cryptography correctly to safeguard sensitive data. Data in transit and at rest are protected with cryptography to ensure their authenticity, confidentiality, and integrity. The uses of this category are:

  • Cryptography Implementation: To guarantee the security of sensitive data, developers should make use of key management procedures and industry-standard encryption algorithms.
  • Secure Key Storage: To prevent unauthorized access, encryption keys should be managed and stored securely.
  • Cryptographic Protocols: To make sure the mobile application’s cryptographic protocols are safe and compliant with industry standards, they should be examined and tested.

Category 4: Authentication and Session Management

To prevent unauthorized access to the mobile application, this category focuses on ensuring secure user authentication and session management. The uses of this category are:

  • User Authentication: To prevent unauthorized access to the application, developers should use secure authentication methods like two-factor authentication.
  • Session Management: To guard against session hijacking and other attacks, the mobile application needs to implement secure session management mechanisms.
  • Password Policies: To ensure the security of user accounts, developers should enact strict password policies.

Category 5: Network Communications This category is concerned with making sure that data is transmitted over the network securely. Mobile applications frequently use the internet to communicate with backend servers, which can be exploited by attackers if not properly secured. The uses of this category are:

  • Secure Communication Protocols: To guarantee the confidentiality and integrity of data in transit, developers should use secure communication protocols like HTTPS.
  • Certificate Validation: To avoid man-in-the-middle attacks, the mobile application should verify the server’s SSL/TLS certificate.
  • Network Configuration: Secure network settings, including disabling unsecured Wi-Fi and avoiding clear text protocols, should be used by the mobile application.

Category 6: Platform Interaction

This category focuses on the safe communication between the mobile application and the platform that it is built upon, including the operating system and other external libraries. The uses of this category are:

  • Platform Interaction Security: Developers must make sure that the mobile application interacts securely with the platform underpinning it and steer clear of any security hazards.
  • Third-party Libraries: Only dependable third-party libraries that have undergone a security vulnerability analysis should be used by the mobile application.
  • Platform-Specific Security Features: To safeguard sensitive data, developers should make use of platform-specific security features like Android KeyStore or iOS Keychain.

Category 7: Code quality and build settings: 

To lower the risk of security vulnerabilities, this category focuses on ensuring the code quality and building settings of the mobile application. The uses of this category are:

  • Code Quality: Developers should follow secure coding practices, such as input validation and output encoding, to reduce the risk of security vulnerabilities.
  • Build Settings: The mobile application build settings should be configured securely to reduce the risk of code injection and other attacks.
  • Static Analysis: Developers should use static analysis tools to identify potential security vulnerabilities in the code.

Category 8: Resilience Against Reverse Engineering

This category focuses on the measures that developers should take to protect their mobile applications from reverse engineering, a technique used by attackers to extract sensitive information from the code of an application. The uses of this category are:

  • Code Obfuscation: Developers should use code obfuscation techniques to make it difficult for attackers to understand and reverse engineer the code.
  • Anti-Tampering Controls: The mobile application should include anti-tampering controls that can detect and respond to attempts to modify the code.
  • Binary Protections: Developers should use binary protections such as stack canaries, address space layout randomization (ASLR), and data execution prevention (DEP) to prevent memory exploits.

In conclusion, the OWASP Mobile Application Security Verification Standard (MASVS) provides developers with a set of security requirements and guidelines to ensure the security of their mobile applications. Each category of the MASVS emphasizes the importance of different aspects of mobile application security, such as data storage, cryptography, authentication, and code quality. To get more knowledge on this and use this technology, you can try Appsealing as they are experts in the mobile security category. By following these guidelines, developers can reduce the risk of security vulnerabilities in their mobile applications and protect their users’ sensitive data.

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