Under the Promise of Early Success, CISA Expands its Beta Mobile App Vetting Service


By Jim Sheire, Branch Chief for CISA’s Cybersecurity Shared Services Office 

Mobile devices are an integral part of our everyday operations, and their growing prevalence provides more than simple convenience within the federal space. Unfortunately, increased connectivity has also expanded the threat landscape, leaving the government vulnerable to bad applications (apps) that jeopardize the security of its systems.   

That is why CISA is proud to expand access to the Mobile App Vetting (MAV) service. CISA granted MAV an Authorization to Operate on February 8th, 2023, acknowledging the service’s key role in combating a growing risk of mobile app vulnerabilities threatening Federal Civilian Executive Branch (FCEB) agencies. Moreover, it is available at no cost to the user. 

While many agencies will get to experience MAV’s capabilities for the first time in the coming months, a handful of early adopters are already deeply aware of its utility. When Customs and Border Protection (CBP) needed an enhanced app-vetting capability to strengthen its mobile security in early 2022, it turned to MAV to meet its needs. 

Currently, CBP uses MAV to vet its library of mobile apps for security concerns before deployment on the component’s pool of smartphones and tablets. A standout example of this is when CBP undertook vetting efforts for a third-party COVID-19 contact-tracing app. Here, MAV was able to detect several issues inherent to software’s iOS version. This discovery prompted CBP to cancel the app’s deployment, which consequently protected the security and integrity its mobile devices. 

CBP’s Mobile Device Management and Engineering found great value in MAV’s prevention of poor coding. This protects government-furnished equipment (GFE) and the greater federal enterprise from unknowingly propagating vulnerabilities. 

Now that MAV is available to the greater FCEB community, agencies interested in using a timesaving, standards-backed, and field-tested mobile app-vetting service should consider CPB’s experience and work with CISA to safeguard their GFE. Eighteen agencies currently use MAV to identify vulnerabilities, flaws, and risks throughout various mobile use cases, which has enabled these participants to make risk-based decisions before using government-developed or third-party apps (e.g., Google Play Store, Apple App Store). 

For more information on the qualifications to receive one of MAV’s limited beta testing licenses, email Visit our MAV website for information about this beneficial shared service.