How to Detect Fake Location in iOS Apps

Last updated February 18, 2024 by Appdome

Learn to Detect Fake Location in iOS apps, in mobile CI/CD with a Data-Driven DevSecOps™ build system.

What Is GPS Fake Location?

Fake GPS Location in an iOS mobile app refers to modifying the location data transmitted by the Global Positioning System (GPS). This makes it appear as though the device is located in a different place than it actually is by modifying the GPS location returned by the app’s Apple API. Fake GPS / GPS spoofing can also be used for malicious purposes, such as to deceive someone into believing that the user is in a different location for the purpose of carrying out fraudulent activities.

Using fake GPS or GPS spoofing in an iOS mobile app can have both practical and harmful applications, depending on the user’s intent.

Why Detect Fake GPS in iOS Apps?

The GPS API helps to redirect the user to certain flows and provide more accurate data and options based on their geographical location. However, there are certain situations, where this feature becomes a vulnerability, attackers can manipulate this behavior by intercepting access to the GPS API provided to the app’s developers. They achieve this by changing the user’s location returned by the API, thus misleading the app to believe that the user is in a different location than they actually are. This can result in unintended flows beginning to appear in the app. To mitigate this issue, Appdome scans for installed hooks using various standard reverse engineering tools and frameworks related to GPS APIs to prevent modification of access to GPS.

Prerequisites for Using Detect Fake Location:

To use Appdome’s mobile app security build system to Detect Fake Location , you’ll need:

Detect Fake Location on iOS apps using Appdome

On Appdome, follow these 3 simple steps to create self-defending iOS Apps that Detect Fake Location without an SDK or gateway:

  1. Upload the Mobile App to Appdome.

    1. Upload an app to Appdome’s Mobile App Security Build System

    2. Upload Method: Appdome Console or DEV-API
    3. iOS Formats: .ipa
    4. Detect Fake Location Compatible With: Obj-C, C+, Java, Swift, Flutter, React Native, Unity, Xamarin, Cordova and more
  2. Build the feature: Detect Fake Location.

    1. Building Detect Fake Location by using Appdome’s DEV-API:

      1. Create and name the Fusion Set (security template) that will contain the Detect Fake Location feature as shown below:
      2. fusion set that contains Detect Fake Location

        Figure 1: Fusion Set that will contain the Detect Fake Location feature
        Note: Naming the Fusion Set to correspond to the protection(s) selected is for illustration purposes only (not required).

      3. Follow the steps in Sections 2.2.1-2.2.2 of this article, Building the Detect Fake Location feature via Appdome Console, to add the Detect Fake Location feature to this Fusion Set.

      4. Open the Fusion Set Detail Summary by clicking the “...” symbol on the far-right corner of the Fusion Set, as shown in Figure 1 above, and get the Fusion Set ID from the Fusion Set Detail Summary (as shown below): fusion Set Detail Summary image

        Figure 2: Fusion Set Detail Summary
        Note: Annotating the Fusion Set to identify the protection(s) selected is optional only (not mandatory).

      5. Follow the instructions below to use the Fusion Set ID inside any standard mobile DevOps or CI/CD toolkit like Bitrise, App Center, Jenkins, Travis, Team City, Cirlce CI or other system:
        1. Build an API for the app – for instructions, see the tasks under Appdome API Reference Guide
        2. Look for sample APIs in Appdome’s GitHub Repository
    2. Building the Detect Fake Location feature via Appdome Console

      To build the Detect Fake Location protection by using Appdome Console, follow the instructions below.

      1. Where: Inside the Appdome Console, go to Build > Security Tab > Secure Communication section.
      2. When you select the Detect Fake Location you'll notice that your Fusion Set you created in step 2.1.1 now bears the icon of the protection category that contains Detect Fake Location

        Fusion Set applied Detect Fake Location

        Figure 4: Fusion Set that displays the newly added Detect Fake Location protection

      3. Select the Threat-Event™ in-app mobile Threat Defense and Intelligence policy for Detect Fake Location:
        1. Threat-Events™ OFF > In-App Defense

          If the Threat-Events™ setting is cleared (not selected). Appdome will detect and defend the user and app by enforcing Detect Fake Location.

        2. Threat-Events™ ON > In-App Detection

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects when hooking frameworks and other methods are used to modify values returned by the GPS API and passes Appdome’s Threat-Event™ attack intelligence to the app’s business logic for processing, enforcement, and user notification. For more information on consuming and using Appdome Threat-Events™ in the app, see section Using Threat-Events™ for Detect Fake Location Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

        3. Threat-Events™ ON > In-App Defense

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects and defends against Fake Location (same as Appdome Enforce) and passes Appdome’s Threat-Event™ attack intelligence the app’s business logic for processing. For more information on consuming and using Appdome Threat-Events™ in the app, see section Using Threat-Events™ for Detect Fake Location Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

      4. Click Build My App at the bottom of the Build Workflow (shown in Figure 3).
    Congratulations!  The Detect Fake Location protection is now added to the mobile app
  3. Certify the Detect Fake Location feature in iOS Apps.

    After building Detect Fake Location, Appdome generates a Certified Secure™ certificate to guarantee that the Detect Fake Location protection has been added and is protecting the app. To verify that the Detect Fake Location protection has been added to the mobile app, locate the protection in the Certified Secure™ certificate as shown below: Detect Fake Location shown in Certificate secure

    Figure 5: Certified Secure™ certificate

    Each Certified Secure™ certificate provides DevOps and DevSecOps organizations the entire workflow summary, audit trail of each build, and proof of protection that Detect Fake Location has been added to each iOS app. Certified Secure provides instant and in-line DevSecOps compliance certification that Detect Fake Location and other mobile app security features are in each build of the mobile app

Using Threat-Events™ for Fake Location Intelligence and Control in iOS Apps

Appdome Threat-Events™ provides consumable in-app mobile app attack intelligence and defense control when Fake Location is detected. To consume and use Threat-Events™ for Fake Location in iOS Apps, use AddObserverForName in Notification Center, and the code samples for Threat-Events™ for Fake Location shown below.

The specifications and options for Threat-Events™ for Fake Location are:

Threat-Event™ Elements Detect Fake Location Method Detail
Appdome Feature Name Detect Fake Location
Threat-Event Mode
OFF, IN-APP DEFENSE Appdome detects, defends and notifies user (standard OS dialog) using customizable messaging.
ON, IN-APP DETECTION Appdome detects the attack or threat and passes the event in a standard format to the app for processing (app chooses how and when to enforce).
ON, IN-APP DEFENSE Uses Appdome Enforce mode for any attack or threat and passes the event in a standard format to the app for processing (gather intel on attacks and threats without losing any protection).
Certified Secure™ Threat Event Check
Visible in ThreatScope™
Developer Parameters for Detecting Fake Location Threat-Event™
Threat-Event NAME GeoLocationSpoofingDetected
Threat-Event DATA reasonData
Threat-Event CODE reasonCode
Threat-Event REF 6801
Threat-Event SCORE
currentThreatEventScore Current Threat-Event score
threatEventsScore Total Threat-events score
Threat-Event Context Keys
message Message displayed for the user on event
externalID The external ID of the event which can be listened via Threat Events
osVersion OS version of the current device
deviceModel Current device model
deviceManufacturer The manufacturer of the current device
fusedAppToken The task ID of the Appdome fusion of the currently running app
kernelInfo Info about the kernel: system name, node name, release, version and machine.
carrierPlmn PLMN of the device
deviceID Current device ID
reasonCode Reason code of the occured event
buildDate Appdome fusion date of the current application
devicePlatform OS name of the current device
carrierName Carrier name of the current device
updatedOSVersion Is the OS version up to date
timeZone Time zone
deviceFaceDown Is the device face down
locationLong Location long
locationLat Location lat
locationState Location state
wifiSsid Wifi SSID
wifiSsidPermissionStatus Wifi SSID permission status

With Threat-Events™ enabled (turned ON), iOS developers can get detailed attack intelligence and granular defense control in iOS applications and create amazing user experiences for all mobile end users when Fake Location is detected.

The following is a code sample for native iOS apps, which uses all values in the specification above for Detect Fake Location:


Using Appdome, there are no development or coding prerequisites to build secured iOS Apps by using Detect Fake Location. There is no SDK and no library to code or implement in the app and no gateway to deploy in your network. All protections are built into each app and the resulting app is self-defending and self-protecting.

Releasing and Publishing Mobile Apps with Detect Fake Location

After successfully securing your app by using Appdome, there are several available options to complete your project, depending on your app lifecycle or workflow. These include:

Related Articles:

 

 

If you have any questions, please send them our way at support.appdome.com or via the chat window on the Appdome platform.

Thank you!

Thanks for visiting Appdome! Our mission is to secure every app on the planet by making mobile app security easy. We hope we’re living up to the mission with your project.

Want a Demo?

Mobile Geo Compliance

GilWe're here to help
We'll get back to you in 24 hours to schedule your demo.