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Top-5 IOS App Pentesting Tools – Research

What describes today’s modern society better if not the term mobile-centric?

In the past decade, the rise of the mobile computing industry and its continuous advancement significantly impacted how business technology and operations systems started to evolve. Hence, It has become the leading power behind all technological innovations and revolutionary concepts. 

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    During this time, the world has witnessed all the phases of the mobile device development process, operating systems’ changes, and their continuous improvement. As a result, mobile applications began to fill the lives of today’s people flooding the digital world with various innovative programs and daily use apps. However, as the usage of mobile devices increases, cybersecurity threats and risks become a headache for all of us. Possible security loopholes, privacy, and sensitive information confidentiality concerns made device protection one of the priorities, resulting in the growth of penetration testing services and tools to help users efficiently identify and solve existing vulnerabilities of their Android or IOS applications. 

    And as you can already guess, in this article, we will cover the topics of IOS penetration testing, the top tools, and techniques. So, without further ado, let’s begin our journey.

    Top IOS Pentesting Tools

    Top-5 IOS App Pentesting Tools – Research

    IOS users can easily access many different tools and apps for penetration testing and hacking. IOS tools will help you solve various security problems and efficiently protect the privacy of your sensitive data. The main provided security solutions include techniques to bypass jailbreak detection, discovering the source code tampering, SSL pinning, static analysis for testing, reverse engineering, and more. Moreover, most IOS penetration testing tools and apps can also be used to identify and fix the existing vulnerabilities for diagnostic purposes. The most common security vulnerabilities in IOS applications include:

    • Insecure Data Storage
    • Weak Authentication 
    • Improper Platform Usage
    • Source Code Quality
    • Reverse Engineering 

    Below we gathered some of the top IOS pentesting tools you can consider when looking for professional options. It’s also important to note that to be able to use these tools, you need to jailbreak your device beforehand. 

    #1 iNalyzer

    One of the most popular tools you can consider for pentesting IOS Apps is iNalyzer. This security tool will help you automate testing tasks by exposing the correlation between hidden functionalities and the internal logic of an IOS application. 

    Security experts use iNalyzer mainly to manipulate IOS Apps and tamper with their methods and parameters. In addition, while using this tool, you can ensure your apps are protected from SQL Injection, fuzzing, brute force, and any other manual IOS penetration testing tasks.

    #2 Frida

    Frida is among the list of favorite tools of most penetration testers and security professionals due to its multifunctional nature. It can be used for various testing purposes, including jailbreak detection bypass, reverse engineering, and SSL pinning bypass.

    Moreover, Frida is widely used for ethical hacking, as it allows pentesters to inject the engine of Javascript V8 into the IOS process runtime. The tool also supports two operation modes and lets users work with jailbreak or without it. However, using Frida with jailbroken devices is recommended to have more control over system services and IOS apps.

    #3 MobSF

    The next popular name among the top-rated penetration testing tools and apps belongs to Mobile Security Framework. It is automatic framework testers use for performing dynamic and static analysis and other mobile security assessments. MobSF can execute tests under Windows, Android, and IOS apps and detect malicious content, including encrypted blocks, jailbreak detection bypass, bad source code, URLs, and IP addresses. 

    Furthermore,  MobSF is equipped with a REST API designed for integration with the pipelines of DevSecOps. This framework can be used for runtime assessments and instrumented or interactive tests utilizing its built-in dynamic analyzer.

    #4 Burp Suite

    It is a proxy tool helping users to intercept traffic on their network. Proxy tools are generally designed to browse through IOS apps via a web browser, and all your network traffic will be routed through it. 

    Burp Suite, like other penetration testing tools of this group, can inspect the traffic flows and provide insights into the target IOS application operations. 

    #5 netKillUIbeta

    If you are looking for an IOS pentesting tool with Wi-Fi cracking utilities, then netKillUIbeta is the best choice. Its main feature is to stop IOS apps you don’t use from utilizing the network bandwidth in the device background. However, using this IOS pentesting tool is not anonymous on public or wireless networks, and your device address can be traced back to you. 

    You can install the tool with all its dependencies via the Cydia app repository.

    Introduction to IOS Application Penetration Testing 

    In line with Android, IOS is the next leading operating system in the industry that has gained the trust and love of millions of people worldwide. Due to this fact, the number of various Apple devices and IOS applications conquering the mobile market grows in no time. As a result, IOS devices and apps are widely used in different ways to enhance business solutions’ productivity and efficiency. However, this expanding popularity has caught the attention of not only users and businesses but also hackers and malicious attackers, leading to high-security risks. And this is precisely where IOS security penetration testing comes into the stage. 

    Typically, application pen-testing defines the set of approaches, methods, and techniques by which web apps, APIs, and mobile apps are protected from the attackers’ traps. Therefore, IOS pentesting covers identifying and exploiting security vulnerabilities in the IOS operating system.

    The methodologies of IOS penetration testing can include decompiling the mobile app to discover existing defects and issues that may lead to errors and bugs. A standard pentesting also covers various tests and tools designed for exploiting IOS app and network vulnerabilities. 

    IOS Application Ecosystem 

    Before diving into the security testing and available tools, it’s essential to understand the default security components and features of the IOS system. Below let’s review the core layers of IOS platforms:

    • Core Services Layer: It is the most vital layer of IOS devices and covers Social, Security, Address Book, and Website aspects. 
    • Core OS Layer: The next layer is Core OS, which provides several features for building various services, such as OpenCL, Directory Services, and Accelerate Framework.
    • Media Layer: The media layer is mainly responsible for providing various media services that can be used in the physical device, including audio-visual technologies.
    • Cocoa Touch: The core function of this layer is to expose different APIs used for programming Apple devices.
    • Info.plist: It’s a special file that uses various properties lists to describe the application to the system. Generally, Info. plist helps testers to find misconfigurations of the app’s SQLite database or local data storage through security assessments.

    IOS Apps Security Testing: Techniques and Features

    The IOS platform provides its users with multiple core services and techniques that can help them store sensitive information safely and ensure mobile app security. Here are the key features worth looking at thoroughly.

    Jailbreak 

    A jailbroken device is one of the fundamental things you need for pentesting IOS applications. For Apple users, jailbreaking is a common term, which means removing previously set restrictions from an IOS device like iPhone or iPad. With the help of jailbreaking, a user can access any service and feature not allowed by Apple or its file system regulations, including installing third-party apps aside from the Apple App Store, downloading music from restricted resources, and customizing the mobile device according to user preferences, or bypassing security controls. 

    There are multiple types of jailbreaking, so let’s review them in detail.

    Untethered Jailbreak 

    It is also known as permanent jailbreak. In the case of untethered jailbreaking, the IOS device will no longer return to its original normal state, even after system rebooting.

    Tethered Jailbreak 

    In contrast to untethered jailbreaking, the tethered jailbreak is temporary in nature. The temporary jailbreak functions so that the device can return to its factory state after rebooting.

    Semi-Tethered Jailbreak 

    If you use a semi-tethered jailbreak, your device can start on its own. Instead, it will no longer be able to run modified code or own the patched kernel.

    Semi-Untethered Jailbreak 

    In terms of rebooting, it is pretty similar to semi-tethered jailbreaking. Thus, the device startup sequence stays the same and can return to the original standard state. But here, a user can easily re-jailbreak their device through a mobile application running on the phone.

    Data Protection API 

    Another great feature for application security is Data Protection API, with the help of which Apple protects the valuable data stored on the IOS device. Moreover, Apple users can use this option to build mobile apps with encryption, which helps safeguard sensitive data even if the application is not running. 

    App Sandbox

    Typically, IOS assigns all apps built on the platform to run on the Sandbox. The core function of sandboxing is to secure the user’s IOS application from other apps trying to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data stored, such as passwords, payment information, and personal details. As a result, users can easily store sensitive data and protect it from other interventions and modifications.

    FAQ Section

    Is it possible to do penetration tests on IOS?

    Yes, it’s possible! What’s more, IOS penetration testing is long a popular subdivision of the cybersecurity space, allowing you to test and verify all security components and aspects of the app to ensure it is free of security issues and vulnerabilities. 

    Is pentesting profitable?

    Today, cybersecurity is one of the most developed and demanded fields in the digital space, which means almost all security jobs and professions are on the top of job market lists. Moreover, alongside being highly demanded, cybersecurity professionals are also well-paid. Their average salaries surpass the most popular and top job salary ranges. And pentesters are among them. However, this field requires a solid base of security-related knowledge, a long list of soft and technical skills, professional expertise, and more. Therefore, although entering the cybersecurity industry can bring a lot of profits and career advancement opportunities, to stand firmly on its ground, you need to have long-lasting persistence, passion for technologies, and the ability to learn and grow continuously. But once passing all the challenges, you can begin to enjoy its provided benefits.

    Which software is best for penetration testing?

    When looking for professional penetration testing software and apps, one can indeed feel lost, as the current market is full of different options available. It can be confusing and somewhat challenging to decide and choose the best pentesting software that is both secure and reliable at the same time. However, there are several top-rated penetration testing software that proved their high efficiency with years of expertise and good reviews.

    Here let’s look through some of them in detail:

    1. Netsparker: It’s a leading automated web application for pentesting. Netsparker can detect almost everything, including SQL Injection and cross-site scripting. You can use this software on web apps, websites, and web services. 

    2. Wireshark: Wireshark is software designed for network analysis. It helps you to capture or interpret network packets. Moreover, Wireshark provides not only offline analysis but also live-capture options.

    3. Aircrack: You can use Aircrack software to crack errors within wireless connections by capturing network and data packets to exploit text files for analysis. 

    4. Nessus: Another popular option for penetration testing is Nessus. It is perfect for scanning websites and IP addresses and completing valuable information searches.

    5. Metasploit: It is one of the most used penetration automation frameworks specialized in verifying and monitoring security assessments and improving awareness.

    Can pentesting be automated?

    Generally, penetration testing can be performed manually and automatically based on the project requirements and specifics. However, it is also possible to use the combination of the two methods for more accurate and effective results.

    Automated penetration testing is carried out through automatic tests, tools, and processes by scanning the network, app, or website for possible security issues. Simply put, automated pentesting eliminates the involvement of testers in the primary process. Unlike manual testing, where security experts check the components and codes line by line to ensure their proper functionality, automated scanning uses special tools to detect the vulnerabilities. However, although these two approaches seem similar, their levels of efficiency differ. Manual testing covers more comprehensive tests and security assessments, while automated analysis only detects the vulnerabilities and nothing more.