What is Mobile Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP) & How it works to secure Mobile Applications?

Gartner defines Runtime application self-protection (RASP) as being a application security technology built into an application to the environment that controls how an application is executed to detect and prevent cyber attacks on an application – being at runtime mode.

Mobile applications are great, but they can’t function properly unless they are secure. Security involves risk assessment, application security from cyber attacks, vectors, anonymization and user authentication. Mobile application security is becoming a necessity to trust anyone with your sensitive information.

And this is what makes Runtime Application Self-Protection critical for mobile App security. It estimates we spend about 20 times more on checks and balances to protect our perimeter than we do on the security of the applications that users run every day.

What is Mobile Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP)Security?

Mobile RASP security is a Gartner-coined Stop hackers’ attempts to compromise enterprise applications and data with Runtime Application Self-Protection RASP. We must protect our mobile apps from intruders within the app itself and first of all, look out for any possible interruptions in the source code.

With mobile apps, RASP Security means In-App Security; CORE to your app so that it can defend itself against attacks without relying on external technology (such as VPNs or firewalls).

To build a mobile app that is as strong and secure as possible, you need to build security into the heart of your mobile app from the beginning. This will require some serious testing and continuous reviews throughout the development process, so your app doesn’t become vulnerable or open itself up to any potential weaknesses. RASP technology is built into the mobile application framework so that it controls data access and manipulation.

Why is Mobile RASP Security Important?

Mobile Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP) is an essential security measure for mobile applications because it provides real-time protection against various threats, ensuring the integrity and security of mobile apps. RASP operates by wrapping around the application code, creating a shield against foreign code injection, and acting as an intermediary between an application and a system, intercepting all calls, and ensuring they are secure. This approach allows RASP to detect and block attacks in real-time, protecting apps from the inside out by adding security that is part of the app.

Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP) is crucial for mobile apps security due to the following 13 reasons:

  1. Detection of malware: RASP can detect malware before the application even loads on the mobile device, ensuring that the app is not compromised by malicious code1.
  2. Prevention of man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks: RASP can detect and prevent MITM attacks, which can intercept and modify data transmitted between the mobile app and its servers.
  3. Detection of jailbreaking/rooting: Mobile RASP security can detect if a device has been jailbroken or rooted, which can expose the mobile app to various security risks.
  4. Protection from known and unknown attack vectors: Mobile RASP security can secure the app from both known and unknown attack vectors, allowing for effective scaling across multiple apps, and providing a powerful tool for businesses to address compliance requirements.
  5. Real-time monitoring and detection of anomalies: RASP can monitor the mobile app’s runtime behavior in real-time, detecting any type of anomaly, and protecting the mobile application from data breaches, various mobile app security threats, and tampering without any human intervention.
  6. Minimal or zero effect on the app’s performance metrics: Mobile RASP vendors should have minimal or zero effect on the app’s performance metrics, ensuring that user experience is still a priority over security.
  7. Immediate Threat Response: Unlike traditional security measures that operate at the network level or are dependent on updates to security software, RASP integrates security into the application to detect and respond to threats in real-time. This means that if a threat is detected while the application is running, RASP can immediately intervene by terminating a session, alerting the user, or taking other protective actions.
  8. Contextual Awareness: Mobile RASP solutions have the advantage of being highly aware of the application’s context, including its data flow, control flow, and configuration. This allows RASP to detect and mitigate attacks with greater accuracy because it understands what normal behavior looks like for that specific application.
  9. Protection from the Inside: By embedding directly into the application, RASP provides protection from within the app itself, making it more difficult for attackers to disable or bypass it. This is particularly important for mobile applications, which often operate on devices that may have multiple entry points for attackers (e.g., through public Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or even physical access).
  10. Zero-Day Exploit Prevention: RASP can potentially identify and prevent zero-day exploits (attacks that exploit previously unknown vulnerabilities) by analyzing the behavior of the application and blocking actions that appear malicious, even if the specific attack vector has not been previously identified.
  11. Compliance and Data Protection: Many industries have strict regulatory requirements for data protection. RASP can help ensure that applications comply with regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, or PCI DSS by providing robust data protection capabilities at runtime, preventing unauthorized data access or leakage.
  12. Cost-Effective Security: By preventing attacks in real-time, RASP can reduce the cost associated with security breaches, which often include not just direct financial losses but also damage to brand reputation and customer trust.
  13. Easy deployment and maintenance: Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP) platforms should be easy to deploy and maintain, with multiple frameworks and language support, and autonomous cloud and real-time monitoring support.

What are the benefits of implementing rasp in mobile app security?

Implementing Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP) in mobile app security offers several distinct benefits that enhance both the security and functionality of mobile applications. Here are some of the key 15 advantages:

  1. Real-Time Protection: RASP operates directly within the application, allowing it to detect and respond to threats as they occur in real-time. This immediate response capability helps prevent exploits from causing harm, significantly reducing the potential impact of attacks.
  2. API security: RASP secures mobile application APIs by detecting and blocking unauthorized access, preventing data breaches and security incidents targeting the application’s APIs.
  3. Contextual Awareness: Since RASP is integrated with the application, it has an in-depth understanding of the application’s logic, data flow, and typical user behavior. This context awareness allows RASP to accurately distinguish between legitimate activities and potentially malicious behavior, leading to fewer false positives and more effective threat detection.
  4. Application integrity and tampering: RASP can detect and prevent application integrity tampering, code injection, and other malicious activities, safeguarding the app from being exploited for malicious purposes.
  5. Session management and protection: RASP provides session management to ensure the validity of sessions and protect communication integrity, preventing unauthorized access and tampering.
  6. Dynamic security policy updates: RASP allows for real-time updates to security policies and access certificates based on new threat information, without the need for code updates or app re-releases, ensuring continuous protection against evolving threats1.
  7. Zero-day attack prevention: RASP helps prevent zero-day attacks by detecting and mitigating vulnerabilities that vendors may not be aware of, enhancing the app’s security posture
  8. Platform agnostic: RASP can be applied to both Android and iOS platforms, allowing organizations to protect all their mobile applications with a single solution.
  9. Reduced Dependency on External Security Updates: Unlike traditional security measures that require updates and patches to respond to new threats, RASP can adapt to emerging threats by analyzing behavior and context without needing frequent updates. This makes it particularly effective against zero-day vulnerabilities and unknown threats.
  10. Elimination of false positives: RASP can be configured to understand the expected behavior of the mobile application, reducing or eliminating false positive detections common in traditional security solutions.
  11. Compliance Assurance: For applications that handle sensitive data, compliance with regulatory requirements (e.g., GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DSS) is crucial. RASP helps ensure that the application adheres to these regulations by protecting sensitive data from unauthorized access and leaks directly at the runtime level.
  12. Protection Against a Broad Range of Threats: RASP can defend against various security threats, including SQL injections, cross-site scripting (XSS), and other forms of attacks that exploit vulnerabilities in the application’s code. It can also provide security against insider threats or attacks stemming from compromised credentials.
  13. Enhanced User Experience: By integrating security within the application, RASP can operate transparently from the user’s perspective, maintaining the app’s performance and user experience without intrusive security checks or noticeable delays.
  14. Cost Effectiveness: By preventing security breaches and minimizing potential damage, RASP can reduce the financial impact associated with security incidents. This includes costs related to data breaches, such as legal fees, penalties, and loss of reputation.
  15. Ease of Integration and Maintenance: Modern RASP solutions are designed to be integrated easily with existing mobile applications, often requiring minimal changes to the application code. This ease of integration helps maintain development workflows and reduces the need for extensive security expertise.

What is Mobile app Runtime Application Self-Protection ?

RASP-protected mobile applications are capable of security self-analysis, self-diagnosing of cyber securities breaches, and fighting back against attacks with its own cybersecurity.

It also throws light on RASP as the ability to control how your applications are used, detect abnormal behavior in real time, restrict what the applications can do, and prevent data from being harvested.

Importance of mobile app security

With the proliferation of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets in our daily lives, the risk of mobile threats is constantly evolving. Not only do cyber criminals use mobile platforms to gain access to information stored on devices, but also leverage mobility in order to perform a wide range of malicious functions.

No-Code Android RASP Security

With the use of ZERO coding features in mobile app sec tools for RASP security, mobile app developers can apply runtime application self-protection RASP features, on an Android app, like code protection and integrity protection – without having to do any coding.

Also, one may achieve all of this through selecting the option during submission where you want your app to detect alteration attempts or hacks on its code during execution. RASP security for android apps can be in the form of:

  • Android app Source code protection
  • Android App Integrity protection
  • Network packet sniffing/spoofing tool detection
  • cheat tools for Games

The RASP-protected Android mobile app has a security layer doesn’t affect the memory, CPU, battery usage, or even the FPS because the tools painstakingly ensure that it doesn’t.

No-Code iOS RASP Security

iOS developers face strict rules and regulations in relation to app development as far as security is concerned and some of their hard work gets compromised because of it. To add insult to injury, hackers are making their jobs even more difficult with this new trend of ransomware that puts users’ data in peril.

Simply put, as an iOS app developer, you do have several restrictions from the Apple app store and it’s always necessary to remember that there are iOS mobile application security guardrails too.

Be it:

  • iOS Jailbreak detection
  • integrity control
  • unauthorized external processes

securing an iOS application inside-out becomes breeze – without any coding/SDK.

Why are mobile apps are hard to protect from cyber security threats?

Most mobile applications need some kind of security, or they wouldn’t be called an application. These kinds of applications may not just be improving apps, but also developing apps.

The kind of security that is associated with a mobile application isn’t just one type, but many.

For example, mobile applications need to protect the data on a user’s phone, which includes photos and authentication information like passwords and digital identities when it’s linked to other accounts such as email or social media.

Mobile applications typically do this by making someone log in before they can use the app (aka authentication), and the app encrypts this information whenever its data is sent from one device to another.

Mobile applications are like stray cats. They belong to your company but operate outside your enterprise security perimeter protection. With mobile applications and smartphones, it’s often the same device being used by employees as well as customers and even family. If a user accidentally visiting a site containing malware on their phone, they could easily infect all other users of that device who use it for work or in other aspects of their lives.

In 2020, 97% of organizations did not have the ability to properly monitor their networks for intrusive online activity, with approximately 3 million attack vectors being used mostly on mobile devices.

  • Almost every organization was affected by a mobile malware attack in 2020.
  • More than 40% of the cell phones in use around the world are vulnerable to cyber-attacks launched from apps, OS or unpatched softwares.
  • Threats to mobile devices are growing, especially in the enterprise IT setting where one has come across sophisticated targeting and espionage techniques

Mobile devices range in so many different top operating systems that it’s hard to get the security measures for these devices just right.

Unfortunately for mobile app developers, components are often distributed across multiple mobile OS platforms and this isn’t something that can afford to slip even the slightest.

How Mobile RASP security works?

Mobile Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP) security works by embedding security controls directly into a mobile app, allowing the app to monitor its own behavior in real-time and detect and prevent attacks and exploitation of security vulnerabilities. Here is a detailed explanation of how Mobile RASP security operates:

Integration

  1. Embedding Security in the App: RASP components are typically embedded into an application either through code libraries or as a protective wrapper that surrounds the app’s code. This integration allows RASP to have visibility and control over the application’s execution.

Monitoring and Detection

  1. Real-Time Monitoring: Once integrated, RASP continuously monitors the application as it runs on the mobile device. This monitoring covers all interactions between the app and its environment, including data flows, system calls, and user interactions.
  2. Threat Detection: RASP uses various detection techniques to identify potentially malicious activities. These can include:
    • Behavioral Analysis: Understanding normal application behavior and detecting deviations that may indicate an attack.
    • Signature-Based Detection: Identifying known attack patterns within the app’s input or behavior.
    • Heuristic Analysis: Using heuristic techniques to detect unusual activities that could signify new or evolving threats.

Response and Protection

  1. Immediate Response: When a threat is detected, RASP can take immediate action without needing to consult external systems. The types of responses include:
    • Terminating Harmful Sessions: Automatically shutting down sessions that involve malicious activities.
    • Alerting Users or Admins: Sending alerts to users or administrators about detected security incidents.
    • Sanitizing Data: Modifying requests to remove harmful content or prevent exploitation.
    • Blocking Functionality: Temporarily disabling certain app functions that are being targeted by an attack.

Adaptation and Learning

  1. Dynamic Protection: RASP can adapt to new threats by updating its detection and response patterns based on observed attacker behavior and techniques. This adaptability helps protect against zero-day exploits and sophisticated attacks.

Advantages in Mobile Context

  • Low Latency: Since RASP operates directly within the application, it doesn’t add significant latency, which is crucial for maintaining a good user experience on mobile devices.
  • Offline Functionality: RASP can function offline, providing continuous protection even when the device isn’t connected to the internet.
  • Contextual Awareness: Being deeply integrated, RASP understands the mobile app’s context, providing highly accurate threat detection and reducing false positives.

Mobile RASP Security Tools Vendors List

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