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The Blueprint for Cost-Efficient Mobile AppSec

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Mobile applications have become instrumental in revenue generation, customer engagement, and data analytics. With mobile apps accounting for 70% of all internet traffic and projected to generate a staggering $935 billion in 2023, organizations are now seeking ways to develop and secure their apps while containing costs amidst economic uncertainty. In this article, we will explore the impact of mobile app vulnerabilities on business success and discuss several cost-saving strategies for mobile app security.

Mobile App Vulnerabilities Impact Business Success: 

Mobile app vulnerabilities can have severe repercussions on business success. Exploitable weaknesses can lead to unauthorized access, data breaches, financial losses, reputational damage, and legal liabilities. In an increasingly interconnected world, where user trust and data privacy are paramount, addressing app security vulnerabilities is crucial for sustainable growth and customer retention.

These statistics and facts emphasize the critical importance of addressing mobile app vulnerabilities to ensure sustainable business growth, maintain customer trust, and protect against financial losses, reputational damage, and legal liabilities.

  • Financial Impact:

According to a study conducted by Ponemon Institute and IBM Security, the average cost of a data breach is $4.24 million, and the average cost per lost or stolen record is $150. Mobile app vulnerabilities can contribute to data breaches, resulting in significant financial losses for businesses.

In 2020, the global average cost of a data breach increased by 10% compared to the previous year, reaching $3.86 million. This demonstrates the rising financial impact of security incidents.

A report by Allianz highlighted that cyber incidents, including mobile app vulnerabilities, are the top global business risk in terms of financial impact.

  • Reputational Damage:

According to a survey conducted by Kaspersky, 43% of consumers would never return to a company that experienced a data breach involving financial or sensitive information.

The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that 86% of consumers consider data security breaches to be the most significant threat to their trust in a company.

Negative media coverage and social media backlash resulting from a mobile app security incident can severely damage a company’s reputation, leading to a loss of customer trust and loyalty.

  • Legal and Regulatory Consequences:

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and other data protection regulations worldwide impose strict requirements on the protection of personal data. Non-compliance with these regulations can result in substantial fines and legal liabilities.

In 2020, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the UK issued fines totaling £42.3 million ($57.8 million) for data breaches, highlighting the enforcement of data protection laws.

Legal actions, class-action lawsuits, and regulatory investigations can further impact a company’s finances and reputation if mobile app vulnerabilities lead to data breaches or non-compliance with privacy regulations.

  • Impact on Customer Trust and User Retention:

According to a survey conducted by F5 Networks, 74% of consumers are concerned about the security of their personal information when using mobile apps.

A study by found that 48% of consumers delete mobile apps that they perceive as being insecure.

Negative experiences resulting from mobile app vulnerabilities can lead to customer churn, decreased user retention rates, and a decline in overall customer satisfaction.


Mobile AppSec Cost Savings Strategies:

Replace Internal/External Penetration Testing with Automation: 

Small and mid-sized organizations often resort to outsourcing mobile app penetration testing, incurring costs ranging from $15,000 to $25,000 per test. For organizations conducting two tests annually, these expenses can reach $30,000 to $50,000 or more. Conversely, large-scale organizations conducting internal pen testing must bear employee salaries and provide the necessary technical resources, resulting in substantial expenditures.

By replacing manual pen testing with automation, organizations can achieve significant cost savings. Automated security testing tools and platforms, such as static application security testing (SAST) and dynamic application security testing (DAST), can efficiently identify vulnerabilities throughout the development cycle. Additionally, these tools can be integrated into continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines, enabling frequent and automated security assessments.

Establish Standards Policy in Pre-Production:

Establishing mobile application security standards in pre-production can streamline the collaboration between development and security teams. This proactive approach ensures that potential security concerns are addressed before the app’s launch, reducing the likelihood of costly remediation efforts later on. By aligning developers’ coding practices with security analysts’ testing requirements, organizations can enhance efficiency and minimize security gaps.

Adopting a standards policy based on the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) Mobile Application Security Verification Standard (MASVS) is recommended. The OWASP MASVS provides a globally trusted security standard, enabling organizations to establish a baseline level of security for their mobile apps. Moreover, this standard forms the foundation for compliance with the App Defense Alliance (ADA) Mobile Application Security Assessment (MASA), meeting Google Play’s data safety requirements.

Integrate Automated Testing Into the DevSecOps Pipeline: 

To further enhance cost efficiency, organizations should integrate automated security testing into the DevSecOps pipeline. By embedding security checks at various stages of the development process, such as code commits, builds, and deployments, vulnerabilities can be identified and resolved early, saving both time and resources. Leveraging tools like security-focused application programming interfaces (APIs), developers can receive real-time feedback on potential security issues while ensuring continuous delivery.

Upskill Devs on Secure Coding Practices: 

Investing in the upskilling of developers on secure coding practices is an essential step toward cost-efficient mobile app security. By providing training and resources focused on secure coding, organizations can empower developers to write secure code from the outset, reducing the likelihood of introducing vulnerabilities during development. This proactive approach minimizes the need for costly post-development security fixes and fosters a culture of security-aware development.

Cost-Efficient Mobile AppSec is a strict compliance process

In an era where mobile apps dominate internet traffic and revenue generation, organizations must prioritize mobile app security while managing costs. By implementing cost-saving strategies such as replacing manual penetration testing with automation, establishing standards policies in pre-production, integrating automated testing into the DevSecOps pipeline, and upskilling developers on secure coding practices, organizations can achieve cost-efficient mobile app security without compromising effectiveness. By adopting these practices, organizations can safeguard their apps, protect user data, maintain customer trust, and thrive in the evolving digital landscape.

Edited by Vu Pham Ham

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