IOS Penetration Testing – Checklist 

IOS Penetration Testing

Mobile phone sales have increased significantly with the advance in technology. The numbers are increasing exponentially, and new apps on these devices are continuously being produced. So it is no surprise that mobiles have a huge potential. The iPhone is now used in over 90 countries, with over 200 million active devices in its app store. That has brought mobile safety under the microscope.

For iOS, the problem is purely an issue. Apple’s closed system helps keep Apple safer thanks to restricted access. However, this does not guarantee application security, as cybercriminals have great potential to detect security vulnerabilities. This is where we need iOS penetration testing.

What is iOS penetration testing?

Insecurities are growing in response to this popular software. So-called IOS pentesting uses state-of-the-art software to detect vulnerabilities that can be exploited to perform certain actions. These could be added to other threat vectors to make systematic attacks.

This technique involves removing the application and mechanisms check for suspicious bugs; the software may be automated. After finding the java source code or reviewing the security, researchers conduct a static analysis and look for sensitive information such as passwords or API keys.

It is a series of tests created to exploit vulnerabilities in the iOS network and operating systems, from installation and configuration to spotting and using software or hardware weaknesses.

Mobile app security issues in iOS

In iOS penetration testing, the system security is assessed to determine if the app’s components are under suspicion. With OWASP Mobile Security Project, developers can generate device apps using handy security tools. This project seeks to help companies create apps to keep their sensitive data secure.

IOS-based testing can be harder than Android because of its complicated iOS application data storage, but the pen testing methodologies remain the same. The list below shows the common vulnerabilities most commonly encountered on mobile devices.

  1. Insecure Data Storage: The state called Insecure Data Storage takes place when the creators avoid encryption of sensitive info and store that in clear text, which is available to any hacker on code decompilation. Though people believe biometric authentication is secure, that’s a myth. iOS is also exploitable in a similar manner. PILIS Files in App Data Directory PLists are an easy-to-use form for storing applications.
  2. Improper Platform Usage: The concern refers to the improper use of mobile-based platform security controls. This can be any problem related to application lock to fingerprint sensors, microphones, and file system permissions.
  3. Not secure Authentication: Poor authentication can be considered one of the root causes of numerous security risks. Cyber-attack vectors such as info disclosure via authentication bypass, so-called debug messages, as well as session invalidation are remarkable samples of unsafe authentication.
  4. Insecure Communication: This issue occurs when sensitive information such as passwords and usernames are sent over open channels like WiFi. Hackers make a man-in-the-middle attack to get access to unencrypted data from such open-source networks using some access methods like password retrieval methods.
  5. Insecure Authorization: Adequate authorization is an important aspect of the CIA triad. A vast number of mobile apps have improper authorization applied. Therefore, low-level users easily access the data of any high privileged user. Improper authorization may give rise to many business-level web vulnerabilities, too.
  6. Insufficient Cryptography: The procedure of converting plain text data to an illegible form is called Cryptography. Most programmers normally ignore cryptography as its implementation is complex and digital criminals, then again, take full advantage of it.
  7. Client Code Quality: Preserving code quality when developing, for instance, Android apps is a crucial task. Cyber attacks including cross-site scripting, buffer overflow, and blind XSS occur due to poor code quality and then result in insecure design.
  8. Extraneous Functionality: Hackers try to analyze the mobile app’s extraneous functionality. The key goal is to know and explore the hidden functionalities behind the backend framework.
  9. Reverse Engineering: This is used to decompile the mobile application to comprehend the application logic. Code obfuscation prevents hackers from reading the application code and guessing the logic.
  10. Code Tampering: This is a process in which malicious actors exploit code modification via harmful forms of the files hosted in third-party app stores accessible over the internet.

Why is iOS Penetration testing necessary?

Mobile applications for iPhones become layered with various security layers, frameworks, and functions. As a result, the vulnerability of an iPhone app can be difficult to detect before its release. Apk files are analyzed by penetration tests to identify web vulnerabilities in a file system. iOS versions test can make a huge difference to security audits.

IOS pentesting is useful if your application does not contain any loopholes in its security configuration. This information-gathering procedure will help you to confirm that your app is free from any vulnerabilities. 

iOS Penetration Testing Focus Areas

iOS pentesting is conducted to examine the security of an app, which involves both the client-side along with server-side components. While testing, five major areas need to be analyzed.

  • Error and Debug Messages
  • Most creators ignore error messages, and hackers use them to get to know the internal architecture. To prevent that, specialists use short and standard error messages.
  • Network Traffic Analysis
  • Most network applications interconnect with the server by Clear text transmission, like HTTP, so that attackers may steal all the sensitive data in transit. That is a secure storage solution for sensitive information stored in database files, comprising encryption codes. It holds sensitive information for the wireless network and application data. Sensitive data in Keychains is generally a good tool to implement when you assess an iPhone app.
  • Poor authentication and authorization
  • 3A’s of Information Security are Authorization with Accounting and Authentication. Correct implementation of these aspects is an essential component of every development process. Insufficient access controls bring about countless security vulnerabilities, which are not typically detected by automated scanners. 
  • Code Tampering
  • The phrase “code modification” denotes the unauthorized alteration of executable program code. Some modification is applied to a malicious code generated to destroy or gain unauthorized access. Cyber-attackers usually re-sign the apps and publish the new code version to third-party app markets.
  • Storing Data in Local Storage
  • iOS creators normally use plain text to simply store sensitive data to avoid encryption. This type of attack is also called Clear Text Storage of sensitive info. These access local files may include API Keys, sensitive Credentials, and JWT tokens.

What is iOS Jailbreaking?

What is iOS Jailbreaking

The term “jailbreak” was inspired by the words’ jail’ and ‘break.’ Jailbreaking primarily focuses on eliminating restrictions on iPhones and iPad devices. It provides a user with an unauthorized way of using Apple products. These include allowing users to download free music from non-approved sources or customize their widgets according to user preferences.

There are several types of jailbreaking. Let’s look over them in detail:

  • Tethered Jailbreak

This one also referred to as temporary jailbreak, is a kind of practice in which the smart device returns to normal after you reboot it.

  • Untethered Jailbreak

This one is also named permanent jailbreak. This is a type of Jailbreaking in which the mobile jailbroken device stays even after you reboot it.

  • Semi-tethered jailbreak

A jailbreak called semi-tethered is based on a tethered boot used to re-patch the kernel. These have been a widespread option for those who want to have a jailbreak but prefer not to use a tethered boot.

In earlier times, they were designed as “bootstrapping” jailbreaks. That implies that after the smart device boots up, the user must run a minor app or click a button to re-patch the kernel.

  • Semi-untethered jailbreak

This one is similar to an untethered jailbreak. It allows the gadget to boot up on its own, but it does necessitate the user to run an app on their PCs to re-jailbreak the device. Semi-untethered ones are typically more stable than tethered ones yet, are considered more sophisticated.

For Android penetration testing, jailbreak the iOS devices. Jailbreaks come in various forms. It is important to note that jailbreaking is possible with Windows, Macs, and Linux. In addition, jailbreak detection bypass may occur in a variety of ways. Read on to find information on the best methods to prevent jailbreaks.

Inbuilt Security for Applications – IOS Pentesting Checklist

Here are the two most important inbuilt security features that Apple offers to keep iOS applications safe.

  1. App Sandbox

Sandboxing lets apps set up a local database at the device’s location. App sandbox protects your app from other programs trying to make unauthorized access to any info you may be storing, such as payment information, passwords, and personal data like images. Sandboxing keeps them segmented from other apps.

Inbuilt Security for Applications - App sandbox

Typically, the application is preinstalled by default, and apps can be accessed in this directory. The “Bundle” directory, or an “IPA Container”, contains all the file formats that can be downloaded to an app via the Apple App Store. That’s what sandboxing is all about!

  1. Data Protection API

iOS developers need to protect sensitive data on IOS application. Now that it is possible to access these records via the Data Protection API, it is also possible to release apps that protect user data with encryption. This separate helper tool is an essential step for iOS toward full encryption.

5 Handy Practices for iOS App Security

Secure Coding is a vital element of app development currently. Here are the best five security testing techniques for iOS application security:

  • Tamper detection techniques
  • Tampers are codes used by attackers to alter the code of your application. The goal is to inject their destructive code into your app. It may be used to steal info from your app. After spotting the first high-profile attacks, tampering has attracted more attention in recent years.
  • The most popular way to detect it is by viewing the app’s source code changes.
  • Hardcoded Credentials
  • Sensitive information (Keys or Passwords) that are hardcoded or embedded in the app’s source code are known as Hardcoded credentials. They are executable or file systems accessible to the end-users. These are used to access the network security resources or the app server. The hardcoded credentials can be quickly accessed during app inspection. They should be avoided.
  • Data Encryption
  • Full data encryption is one of the crucial parts of app security. Yet, encrypting data is not enough to protect the clients using iOS files. Every single unit of data swapped over your app has to be encrypted. This includes any info being sent via your server or your APIs.
  • HTTPS – Secure communication protocols
  • HTTPS is a known protocol for secure communication throughout a computer network. Its main goal is to guarantee data integrity and privacy between two computer systems. It promises that the info is not altered while in transit between two systems. Primarily, this protocol file is used for secure transactions on the servers.
  • Reverse Engineering and Code Obfuscation
  • Code obfuscation is a scrambling or obscuring of source code – namely, converting source code into another form to make it illegible to humans. That is a preventative measure against hackers to protect from reverse engineering your iOS device.

IOS penetration methods

In general, iOS pentesting is far more complex than Android penetration because of the complex iOS app architecture, yet the pentest methodology remains unchanged.

A phase of Analysis

In the initial phase, the specialists analyze the app’s structure. At this stage, penetration specialists also discover the tech stack used to improve the application and info gathering via several open-source tools. If penetration testing of two types: a white box or gray box, is conducted, the security is supported with the necessary resources.

Initial Exploitation

Next, the testers decompile the target app. Then, the pentest team decides how to get into the app and a proper method to simulate attacks on it. In the background, the testers start automated scanners to detect vulnerabilities in the application.

Penetration Testing

In the next phase of the work, the pentesters gradually get into the app files. Then, real-time attacks are initiated to understand the behavior of the app. Publicly accessible CVE’s for recognized components are also tested during this stage.

Reporting Phase

In the final phase of the testing process, the testers prepare a summary of attacks triggered and launched together with a list of exploited CVE’s. This information also contains the steps to fix and reproduce the vulnerabilities to help the creators.

iOS Penetration Testing Tools

If you are seeking effective penetration tools, look no further. Here is a collection of top 5 iOS must-have open source tools.

  • MobSF: So-called Mobile Security Framework is an effective tool for iOS testing. It’s a dynamic and static binary analyzer able to enumerate security issues swiftly.
  • Cydia Impactor: Here is a GUI that permits the installation of IPA files on iOS smart devices.
  • Frida: Frida is a dynamic programming instrumentation toolkit for reverse-engineers and developers. Scripts can be embedded in JavaScript or custom libraries in native applications for an Android application, Mac OS X, iOS, QNX, or Windows.
  • Frida-iOS-dump: This tool is used to pull a decrypted IPA from a device found jailbroken.
  • Checkra1n: This one is a community project to deliver a high-end semi-tethered jailbreak to all, built on the ‘checkm8’ bootrom exploit. 


iOS penetration security test is a handy and valuable asset in any workplace intending to launch a new iOS application or an earlier one. By hiring a security agency, you help protect your organization’s important data and records. Use modern tools like Client-Server Authentication or cryptographic algorithms to maintain your privacy. If you plan to conduct IOS testing for better security, find professionals to avoid any risks.


Can you conduct a penetration test on iOS?

Yes. To check your phone, penetration testing analyzes all the security aspects.

Why penetration testing?

The penetration tests are vital to a company’s security as they protect sensitive information from a cyber attack. Here is the best pentesting companies

Can you Pentest an app on Android? 

Yes. Android testing is a procedure for spotting security issues in the application.

What is App penetration testing?

A pen test refers to a simulated cyber attack against your device’s OS.