A Guide To Security Testing Mobile Apps Using OWASP ZAP

If you’re developing a mobile app, then securing the app’s data and reserved features should be your number one priority. After all, with more and more people using their smartphones and tablets to access the internet, it’s important to make sure that your app is secure from hackers and other cybercriminals. In this guide, we will show you how to use OWASP ZAP – one of the most popular security-testing tools available – to test the security of your mobile app.


Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP) is a DAST (dynamic application security testing) tool by the OWASP Foundation designed to find flaws in web applications including mobile-based apps. It is an open-source tool, meaning it is free and updated frequently. This is great for beginning your testing journey. You can later invest in a more comprehensive testing tool like Astra Pentest by paying for it.

How Does DAST Work?

DAST works by simulating attacks on your mobile app and determines its level of security by analysing the way the app responds to each of its attacks. Only apps that have been deployed and are operational can be tested in this manner.

Why Is Mobile Security Important?

Simply put, mobile devices are becoming more and more popular for accessing the internet. With so many individuals using their cellphones and tablets to access the internet, your app must be safe and reliable. Hackers and other cybercriminals are increasingly targeting mobile apps, so it’s important to make sure that your app is protected against attacks such as:

  • SQL injection: This is where malicious code is inserted into your app’s database. This exposes critical data such as passwords, credentials, bank details, etc.
  • Cross-site scripting: This is where malicious code is injected into your app, which can allow hackers to steal information from your users or even take control of their devices.
  • Man in the middle attacks: This is where a hacker intercepts data being transmitted between your app and your users’ devices, potentially allowing them to steal sensitive information.
  • Malware: This is software that is designed to harm or disable computers and mobile devices. Hackers may use it to take control of a device or extract any data they want. Once a malware has gotten in, it can give attackers a direct link to access the device.
  • Denial of Service attacks: This is where a hacker bombards your app with so much traffic that it crashes or becomes unusable.
  • Phishing attacks: This is where a hacker tries to trick your users into giving them sensitive information by masquerading as a trusted source.

As you can see, there are a variety of attacks that can be used to target mobile apps. That is why it’s imperative to ensure that your app is secure.

How Do I Use OWASP ZAP For Mobile Security Testing?

ZAP can be used in many ways for mobile security testing. To get started, download and install ZAP from here. After installation completes, launch it and begin testing your app. To do this, follow the steps below:

Step One: One way to test a mobile-based web app is to simply scan it for vulnerabilities using the spidering tool in ZAP. To do this all you need is to enter the URL and it will do the job testing for all sorts of vulnerabilities.

Step Two: Another way to test a mobile app is by using the intercepting proxy. This will allow you to see all of the traffic between your app and users’ devices. This can be used to find vulnerabilities such as cross-site scripting attacks.

Step Three: You can also use ZAP’s manual testing tools to probe for specific vulnerabilities in your app. This can be done by clicking on the “Attack” button and then selecting the type of attack you want to test for.

Step Four: Fuzzing is another great way to find vulnerabilities in your mobile app. Fuzzing is where you send random data to your app to try and break it. This can be used to find vulnerabilities such as buffer overflows.

Step Five: Once you have finished testing your app, you can generate a report that will show you all of the findings. This report can be used to fix the vulnerabilities in your app. ZAP conveniently recommends steps you can take to fix the issues found.

There are a variety of other ways that ZAP can be used for mobile security testing, but these were some of the most popular methods worth mentioning.


ZAP is a great tool for mobile security testing. It is free and easy to use and can be used in many ways to find vulnerabilities in your app. So, if you’re trying to get started with mobile security testing, then ZAP is definitely worth a shot. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can get a good start on your mobile security testing journey.