Android smart devices have gained tremendous popularity, leading to the pervasiveness of its apps. As of December 2018, there were over 2.6 million Android applications distributed within its official app store, Google Play. Ranging from financial and educational to personalization and entertainment, the app store had over 30 categories of apps.
Given the widespread adoption of Android as an efficient mobile operating system (OS), there is an increasing need for proper testing of its applications based on the specificities of the platform’s development model. Due to Android’s distribution ecosystem that is porous to poorly-tested applications. To this end, it has become imperatively important for app developers to ensure that they sufficiently test their Android applications before releasing them into the market.
Understanding automated testing
The reputation of any Android app developer or agency is always at stake when developing mobile applications that are prone to errors. As a matter of fact, such an act can lead to a downgrade of the ratings seeing that it can negatively impact user experience. This is why testing is important.
However, when it comes to providing secure Android app development, much attention is given to automated testing due to the scalable, dynamic and trustworthy testing solutions it provides. Most modern app developers have come to appreciate this approach – shifting their attention from laborious, time-consuming and error-prone manual testing.
The importance of automated testing to the ever-growing complexity of Android applications cannot be overemphasized. As a matter of fact, app developers need to ensure that their apps are properly tested and secure before even launching them in the store. An undetected inaccurate behavior of an app can give rise to a security breach.
Usually, the main functionality of the app is not affected when there is a flaw until it becomes a known security problem. This is how “buggy” apps are made and distributed. Without proper testing, it is very easy for app developers to deploy corrupt applications for users to download. Since everything seems to be working very fine, it is usually not easy to identify such bugs in apps.
Now that every technology is security-sensitive in the modern landscape, developers need to perform efficient automated testing so as to ensure that new builds and commits do not introduce security flaws into the app. With high demands on security, this is an essential practice in Android app development that should be applied without any reservation.
Getting started with automated testing
Like any tests, automated testing aims to check the compatibility, usability and functionality of mobile apps running on Android devices. There are several testing approaches that app developers can adopt to ensure a proper and adequate satisfaction of both functional and non-functional requirements of the Android app. All these approaches tend to check for the absence of some weaknesses and behaviors capable of posing security risks.
App developers are highly advised to take automated testing very seriously particularly now that there are more repeated security-related threats and scares than ever before. Aside from helping to identify security flaws, automated testing can also help to improve an app’s efficiency. Basically, testing is required to keep the code clean and free from all undesired issues such as undefined behavior, insecure behavior, performance-hindering issues, input bugs, and memory bugs.
Test memory behavior
Some of the most dangerous and destructive security issues that can be created by any code are remote code execution and buffer overflows. In such a case, what most app developers will do is to employ source code analysis to automate the detection of every glitch responsible for attacking execution flow, such as unidentified behavior and memory problems. Automated testing will help to check for hashes, keys, passwords, buffer sizes, memory leaks and so on while scanning the codebase.
Test security controls
There is no better way to ensure that your app’s security control system is working perfectly as expected than performing regular automated testing of security controls and security components of the application in view. Most security-conscious app development companies take up this approach to prevent the manipulation of parameters by hackers seeking to mount path traversal attacks, the flow of SQL injection patterns into user input, and to avoid an active or passive attack on API calls wrapped in HTTPS.
Check for vulnerabilities
As a cardinal rule of computer programming, app development companies are expected never to trust their input. The best way to take advantage of this rule is to adopt efficient automated testing. Through this automated process, fuzzing will feed random, invalid, and unanticipated inputs into the tested app to effectively search out for exploitable bugs.
When it comes to testing memory behavior and other security controls, this is simply the best testing approach to adopt. It is all about identifying cases of unexpected memory behavior and poor security controls and correcting them effectively. For best results, it is recommended to run this process over and over again.
This testing approach can go a long way to expose the seemingly hidden vulnerabilities that would have been detrimental to the app’s functionality. With static analyzers, developers can take advantage of this testing approach which is nearly devoid of false positives to create efficient Android applications that are free from bugs.