Can Mobile Apps be Hacked? Understanding Mobile App Security in 2023

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By TechTideTV

Nowadays with the digital age dominating our lives mobile apps have become an integral part of human life by providing quick access to different services and information with a single click on our devices.

Yet as our reliance on these applications increases so does the menace of mobile app hacking. When someone purposefully gains illegal access or manipulates an application for malicious reasons- that is what we call- “mobile app hacking.”

Many high profile instances have been reported concerning this issue which resulted in monetary loss and sensitive data being stolen along with permanent harm caused towards businesses’ reputation.

The importance of security in the world of mobile applications can never be overstated because users throughout the world utilize them for various purposes consistently; therefore securing apps against potential threats should be prioritized by all developers worldwide; inadequate protection will put consumers at great danger while also harming businesss status who supply said applications.

Therefore being aware of different types of attacks that can happen and having precautions ready will go a long way in securing your application and most importantly users’ privacy and sensitive data.

Common Types of Mobile App Hacking

TechniqueDescriptionPotential Impact
Reverse EngineeringDecompiling app code to uncover vulnerabilitiesUnauthorized access, code tampering, malicious versions
Man-in-the-MiddleIntercepting and modifying app-server communicationData eavesdropping, injection of malicious content
Jailbreaking/RootingBypassing device security for unauthorized accessExecution of malicious code, bypassing app security
Code InjectionInserting malicious code to exploit app vulnerabilitiesRemote code execution, unauthorized actions
Malware-based AttacksDistributing infected apps or injecting malwareData theft, device control, propagation of malware
Social EngineeringManipulating users to reveal sensitive informationUnauthorized access, password theft, phishing attacks

Malware and viruses

Malware and viruses are malicious software programmes that may infiltrate mobile applications and devices, inflicting data and device damage.

Malware may spread via a variety of methods, including infected applications, links, or files, and can result in the theft of personal information, financial loss, or unauthorised access to the user’s device.

Malware comes in numerous forms, including Trojans, worms, and ransomware, each of which is designed to execute certain duties that might harm the user’s device and data.

Malware can slow down the device, deplete the battery, show unwelcome pop-ups, steal login credentials, or access the user’s contacts, messages, and other sensitive information.

Users should exercise caution while downloading programmes, files, or clicking on links from unfamiliar sources to avoid malware and virus infestations. Installing and upgrading antivirus software on a regular basis can also help safeguard the device from malware and viruses.

Users should also avoid providing critical information, such as login passwords or financial information, to untrusted sources or through public Wi-Fi networks.

Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks

MitM attacks are a sort of mobile app hacking in which a hacker intercepts communication between the mobile app and the server.

This sort of attack allows the hacker to gain access to sensitive information such as login passwords, financial data, and other personal information exchanged between the mobile app and the server.

MitM attacks are possible via public Wi-Fi networks or hacked routers. When a user joins to a public Wi-Fi network, the data sent between the user’s device and the server is not secured, making it exposed to hacking.

A hacked router, on the other hand, can be used to reroute the user’s traffic to a malicious server controlled by the hacker, allowing them to intercept and steal important information.

To avoid MitM attacks, users should avoid utilising public Wi-Fi networks and instead encrypt their data using a virtual private network (VPN).

Users should also keep their device’s software and apps up to date to avoid vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. Furthermore, businesses should use secure communication protocols like Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to protect data transmitted between the mobile app and the server.

Reverse engineering

Reverse engineering is a mobile app hacking method in which the code of a mobile app is deconstructed to uncover its underlying logic and operation. This approach is used by hackers to identify vulnerabilities and flaws in the app’s security, which they may then exploit to get unauthorised access to the app or the user’s device.

Hackers can identify how an app is constructed and how it interacts with the user’s device and server by reverse engineering it. They can then use this information to create exploits that allow them to circumvent the app’s security mechanisms and get access to sensitive data or control of the app or device.

App developers might employ code obfuscation techniques to make the app’s code more difficult to comprehend and reverse engineer in order to prevent reverse engineering.

Additionally, developers should use secure coding practises and update the app’s security measures on a regular basis to prevent new vulnerabilities from being exploited.

Users may also safeguard themselves by only installing programmes from reputable sources and keeping their devices and apps up to date with the most recent security fixes.

Jailbreaking or Rooting

apple jail break

Jailbreaking or rooting is a method in mobile app hacking that includes circumventing mobile device security standards to allow users to install unauthorised programmes and access restricted functionalities.

This procedure is often used to eliminate restrictions imposed by the device maker or carrier, providing consumers greater control over their device.

However, jailbreaking or rooting exposes the device to security risks and makes hacking into the user’s device easier.

By jailbreaking or rooting a device, users essentially remove the manufacturer’s security mechanisms, leaving the device susceptible to attackers.

Hackers can obtain control of a device, install malware or adware, and steal sensitive information by exploiting flaws in the jailbreak or root process. Furthermore, jailbroken or rooted devices may not receive manufacturer security updates, leaving them vulnerable to new security threats.

Users should avoid conducting jailbreaking or rooting on their devices to avoid the security risks connected with these operations.

Users may also safeguard themselves by only installing programmes from reputable sources and keeping their devices and apps up to date with the most recent security fixes. Manufacturers and carriers can also take steps to discourage consumers from jailbreaking or rooting their devices and urge them to maintain them in their original, secure form.

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Data interception and theft

Data interception and theft are types of mobile app hacking in which hackers intercept data sent between the mobile app and the server. This data may include personal information, financial information, and other sensitive information that might be used fraudulently.

Data can be intercepted by hackers by exploiting weaknesses in the mobile app or by utilising man-in-the-middle attacks to intercept data while it is sent between the mobile app and the server. Hackers can exploit intercepted data to steal the user’s identity, perpetrate financial fraud, or sell the information on the dark web.

Users should avoid utilising public Wi-Fi networks and instead use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt their traffic to avoid data interception and theft. Users should also keep their device’s software and apps up to date to avoid vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit.

Furthermore, businesses should use secure communication protocols like Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to protect data transmitted between the mobile app and the server. Finally, users should exercise caution when disclosing personal information and avoid disclosing sensitive information unless absolutely necessary and the source is trustworthy.

Reasons Why Mobile Apps are Vulnerable to Hacking

Inadequate coding practices

Inadequate coding practises refer to the creation of mobile apps without suitable security safeguards. Developers may not use secure coding practises, which might create vulnerabilities in the app’s code that hackers can exploit.

Developers that do not adhere to safe coding practises may leave backdoors or other vulnerabilities in the app’s code that hackers might exploit to obtain unauthorised access to user data or other sensitive information. This can result in data breaches, financial losses, or other security concerns.

To prevent inadequate coding practices, mobile app developers should follow secure coding practices and use security frameworks and tools to ensure that their apps are secure.

They should also regularly test their apps for vulnerabilities and address any issues that are found. Additionally, developers should stay up to date with the latest security trends and technologies to ensure that their apps remain secure over time.

Use of third-party libraries and APIs

The usage of third-party libraries and APIs in mobile apps might pose risks. While mobile app developers frequently use these tools to save time and resources, they may be unaware of the security risks associated with their use.

Third-party libraries and APIs may have vulnerabilities that hackers might exploit, jeopardising the app’s and data’s security. These vulnerabilities can range from basic code faults to more complicated security concerns that trained hackers can exploit.

Mobile app developers should carefully examine the tools they employ to reduce the dangers associated with third-party libraries and APIs.

They should seek for libraries and APIs with a proven track record of security and dependability, and they should carefully check the code and documentation to ensure that the tools are being used appropriately.

Furthermore, developers should check for updates and security patches for the tools they use on a regular basis and update their apps accordingly.

Lack of encryption

mobile app encryption
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In mobile apps, a lack of encryption is a critical security issue that can expose sensitive data to interception and theft by hackers. Encryption is the process of transforming data into a secret code that only authorised parties can access, making it a critical component of mobile app security.

Some mobile apps may or may not use encryption, making it easier for hackers to intercept and steal sensitive information. Hackers can intercept data using a number of ways, such as man-in-the-middle attacks or exploiting weaknesses in the app’s code.

Mobile app developers should employ robust encryption methods and guarantee that data is protected both in transit and at rest to avoid data interception and theft.

Additionally, developers should test their app’s encryption on a regular basis and address any vulnerabilities that are discovered. This can assist to secure sensitive data from unauthorised access and theft.

Weak authentication and authorization

In mobile apps, weak authentication and authorization protocols are a common security issue. The act of validating a user’s identification is referred to as authentication, whereas authorization is the process of allowing access to certain resources or features based on a user’s identity and permissions.

Weak authentication and authorization processes in mobile applications might make it simpler for hackers to get unauthorised access to user accounts and sensitive information.

Hackers may employ brute-force attacks or exploit weaknesses in the app’s code to circumvent authentication and obtain access to user accounts.

Mobile app developers should employ robust authentication and authorisation procedures to prevent unauthorised access to user accounts and critical information. This can include requiring strong passwords, using multi-factor authentication, and limiting access to sensitive data and features based on user permissions.

Additionally, developers should test their app’s authentication and authorization protocols on a regular basis to identify and address any vulnerabilities that are discovered. This can assist to safeguard user data and accounts from unauthorised access.

Unsecured data storage

Another major security risk with mobile apps is unsecure data storage. Without sufficient security measures in place, mobile applications may keep sensitive information such as login passwords, personal information, and financial data on the device or in the cloud.

To obtain access to stored data, hackers may attack weaknesses in the app’s code or circumvent security measures. They can steal the data or exploit it for fraudulent reasons if they get access to it.

To avoid unauthorised access to stored data, mobile app developers should use strong data storage security methods.

This can include encrypting stored data, restricting access to sensitive data based on user permissions, and testing the app’s data storage security protocols on a regular basis to identify and address any vulnerabilities discovered.

By implementing strong security measures for data storage, mobile app developers can help ensure that sensitive user information is protected from unauthorized access and theft.

Examples of High-Profile Mobile App Hacks


Snapchat: In December 2013, a group of hackers detailed a vulnerability in the Snapchat app that might allow hackers to match phone numbers with usernames in a blog post on the website Gibson Security. Despite being informed of the vulnerability, Snapchat did not take any action to address it.

Hackers were able to exploit the vulnerability in August 2014 and acquire the usernames and phone information of over 4.6 million people. The hackers then made the data available online for anybody who wanted to obtain it.

This attack put users at danger of identity theft and other sorts of fraud, and Snapchat was heavily chastised for its insufficient security measures and lack of openness in dealing with the problem.

Pokemon Go

In 2016, hackers built a malware-infected version of the popular augmented reality game Pokemon Go. Users’ cellphones were infected with malware once they downloaded and installed the false software, providing hackers access to their personal data such as GPS position, contacts, and messages.

This attack not only exposed users to the possibility of data theft and other security issues, but it also resulted in money loss for some users who made in-app purchases through the bogus app without realising it.


Uber: In 2017, Uber said that hackers had gotten access to over 57 million users’ and drivers’ personal information, including names, email addresses, and phone numbers.

The breach also revealed the licence numbers of around 600,000 drivers. Uber first attempted to conceal the attack by paying the hackers $100,000 to remove the stolen data and keep the situation quiet. The corporation faced criticism and legal action as a result of its handling of the breach, and finally paid a $148 million settlement.


The Starbucks mobile app was vulnerable owing to a lack of adequate validation checks on the app’s server-side API. As a result, attackers were able to brute-force their way into the API and get access to critical user information.

Starbucks was notified of the vulnerability, and the firm swiftly remedied the issue and provided a patch to resolve it. The event, however, underlined the significance of rigorous security testing and validation procedures for mobile applications, especially for well-known and established businesses such as Starbucks.


In 2017, Equifax, one of the main credit reporting companies in the United States, had a catastrophic data breach. Hackers used a flaw in Equifax’s website software to get access to the personal information of more than 147 million customers. Names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, and other sensitive information were compromised.

The intrusion put people at danger of identity theft, financial fraud, and other sorts of cybercrime. Numerous lawsuits were filed as a result of the incident, which resulted in a $700 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, as well as significant damage to Equifax’s reputation.

Measures to Secure Mobile Apps

Secure coding practices

To ensure mobile app security, developers must implement secure coding practices and comply with established security standards during the development phase. This includes performing security assessments and adopting secure coding frameworks and guidelines.

By following these practices, developers can minimize the risk of vulnerabilities and make it harder for attackers to exploit them.


Encryption is a crucial security measure for mobile apps. It helps protect sensitive data transmitted between the app and the server from interception and theft by hackers. Mobile apps should use strong encryption algorithms and key management practices to ensure the security of user data.

By using encryption, even if hackers intercept the data, they will not be able to read it without the decryption key. Therefore, it is important for developers to implement encryption techniques properly and effectively in their mobile apps.

User authentication and authorization

To ensure the security of mobile apps, developers should implement strong user authentication and authorization protocols. This involves verifying the identity of users before granting access to sensitive information or app features.

Multi-factor authentication, strong password policies, and the use of biometric authentication are some ways to ensure secure user authentication. It is also essential to have proper authorization protocols in place to restrict access to sensitive data and features to authorized users only.

Regular security updates

To ensure the security of mobile apps, regular security updates are crucial. Developers should address any security vulnerabilities that may arise by regularly fixing bugs, updating libraries and APIs, and implementing new security features.

These updates should be pushed to users as soon as possible to mitigate the risk of exploitation by hackers.

Penetration testing and code reviews

Penetration testing and code reviews are essential measures to secure mobile apps. Penetration testing involves simulating real-world attacks to identify vulnerabilities in the app’s security defenses. Code reviews involve analyzing the source code of the app to identify any potential vulnerabilities or weaknesses.

Regular testing and reviews can help identify and remediate potential security risks before they can be exploited by attackers. It is important to note that these measures should be conducted by experienced security professionals who are trained to identify and address security vulnerabilities.


Finally, the security of mobile apps is critical for both users and businesses. Mobile applications are prone to a variety of security concerns, including data breaches, hacking, and malware assaults, all of which can result in the theft of sensitive information and financial loss.

As a result, security measures such as secure coding practises, encryption, user authentication and authorisation, frequent security upgrades, and penetration testing and code reviews must be prioritised. Users should also be aware of possible security concerns and take safeguards such as using strong passwords and avoiding installing apps from unknown sources.

Businesses should prioritise mobile app security and commit resources to ensure the security of their apps. Overall, better mobile app security practises can aid in the prevention of security breaches and the protection of both.

Frequently Asked Questions

What apps are most likely to be hacked?

Certain types of apps are more likely to be targeted by hackers, such as those with a large user base, financial apps that handle sensitive information, and apps with known security vulnerabilities. However, it’s important to note that any app can be a target for hackers.

Can a hacker access your apps?

Yes, if a hacker successfully exploits a vulnerability in your device or the app itself, they can gain unauthorized access to your apps. This is why it’s crucial to keep your devices and apps up to date with the latest security patches and follow best practices for securing your personal information.

What are two of the mobile app security risks?

Two common mobile app security risks include:

  1. Data breaches: If an app stores or transmits user data insecurely, it can be vulnerable to data breaches, where unauthorized individuals gain access to sensitive information.
  2. Malicious code injection: Hackers can inject malicious code into mobile apps, allowing them to execute unauthorized actions or steal user data.

How secure is a mobile app?

The security of a mobile app depends on various factors, including the development practices followed by the app’s creators, regular security updates, and the implementation of strong security measures. Well-built and regularly updated apps with robust security measures in place can be considered relatively secure, but no app can be considered completely immune to potential security threats. It’s crucial for both app developers and users to prioritize security and follow best practices to minimize the risks.

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