[Owasp-leaders] OWASP Mobile Top Ten 2014 - M10 Datapoints

Tim tim.morgan at owasp.org
Wed Nov 5 03:12:33 UTC 2014

Hi Leaders,

I have brought up my concerns about M10 before and I have done a fair
bit of thinking about this since then.  I think it would be useful to
re-frame the discussion with some more subtle distinctions:

0. Are all software security risks also considered business risks?

   Yes, I would say so.  It is hard to find a computer security risk
   that doesn't pose some kind of business risk.

1. Are all business risks considered security risks?  

   No, I definitely don't think so.  There are plenty of things
   outside of the realm of software security that are very real
   business risks (e.g. employees running over a business partner in
   the parking lot by accident). 

2. Is binary modification/repackaging a real business risk to
   intellectual property?

   Yes!  It is happening already.  An attacker could repackage your
   app, redistribute, and reap benefits from app stores based on your
   hard work.

3. How is mobile reverse engineering and/or repackaging a security

   Yes, specifically:

   A) Reverse engineering can expose crypto keys and any other secrets
      that are foolishly embedded in the app.

   B) Repackaging can be used to try and fool users into installing
      the wrong version of an application which has malicious intent.
      Very similar to phishing.

4. Does mobile app obfuscation/monitoring/anti-reverse engineering
   technology help solve a *business* risk?

   Yes, in that it raises the cost of reusing the compiled version of
   the software.  Raise the cost enough, and the attacker might as
   well write their own app.  Even if you don't raise the cost *that*
   high, you reduce the number of people willing to target your app

5. Does mobile app obfuscation/monitoring/anti-reverse engineering
   technology help solve a *security* risk?

   No, I don't think so.  

   Regarding (3A)-- If crypto keys/credentials/etc are valuable, it
   doesn't take a whole lot of effort decode an obfuscated binary to
   get that them.  Definitely worth the minimal effort. 

   Regarding (3B)-- If cloning apps like this is effective against
   users, then it's just as easy to copy the images from the company's
   website, slap it on a "hello world" app, add a login form, and
   poof: you have users' credentials.  You don't need to clone a whole
   app to fool users.

I think many folks on each side of the discussion are correct in what
they are saying, but they are talking about different things.  Look at
the issue with a slightly higher resolution, particularly in the
context of what attacks are actually applicable, and it all becomes
much more clear:  Remove M10.  (After all, OWASP is primarily about
computer security, not digital rights management.)


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