How to Implement VPN Detection for Android & iOS Apps

Last updated February 18, 2024 by Appdome

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

What Is the Mobile VPN Detection Feature?

The Detect VPN feature is designed to detect the activation of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) on mobile devices. Once the VPN is detected, Appdome allows the blocking of network connections from the app. Its primary function is to monitor and identify whether a VPN connection is currently active on a user’s mobile device while using the protected app. When a VPN is enabled, it routes traffic through an untrusted server, which allows attackers to potentially bypass security measures put in place by the app provider. The Detect VPN feature allows Appdome customers to ensure that end users are not utilizing a VPN while accessing their app, thereby enforcing their network policies and security measures. The significance of this capability rests in its ability to maintain the integrity of the app provider’s ecosystem. By preventing users from accessing the app with an active VPN, companies can safeguard their content, maintain control over the user experience, and ensure that their data and services are accessed securely and in compliance with their policies.

Why VPN Detection is Crucial for Mobile App Security and Compliance?

Companies that provide mobile apps have a vested interest in maintaining control over the access and security of their services. The implementation of a VPN detection feature within their apps serves a crucial purpose: it helps companies ensure that their end users are not utilizing a VPN while interacting with their mobile apps. The primary motivation behind this is to uphold content restrictions, security measures, and compliance requirements set forth by the company. By disallowing VPN use during app sessions, companies can mitigate potential risks associated with circumventing their security protocols or accessing restricted content through VPNs.
Furthermore, this feature enables companies to maintain a consistent user experience, reduce the likelihood of unauthorized access to their services, and protect sensitive data from potential security threats. It serves as a valuable tool for upholding corporate policies, protecting intellectual property, and ensuring that end users interact with their apps in a secure and controlled environment.

Prerequisites for Using Detect VPN:

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

Detect VPN on Mobile apps using Appdome

On Appdome, follow these 3 simple steps to create self-defending Mobile Apps that Detect VPN 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. Mobile App Formats: .ipa for iOS, or .apk or .aab for Android
    4. Detect VPN Compatible With: Obj-C, C+, Java, JS, C#, C++, Swift, Kotlin, Flutter, React Native, Unity, Xamarin, and more
  2. Build the feature: Detect VPN.

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

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

        Figure 1: Fusion Set that will contain the Detect VPN 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 VPN feature via Appdome Console, to add the Detect VPN 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 VPN feature via Appdome Console

      To build the Detect VPN 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 VPN 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 VPN

        Fusion Set applied Detect VPN

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

      3. Select the Threat-Event™ in-app mobile Threat Defense and Intelligence policy for Detect VPN:
        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 VPN.

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

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects the presence of VPN 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 VPN Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

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

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects and defends against VPN (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 VPN 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 VPN protection is now added to the mobile app
  3. Certify the Detect VPN feature in Mobile Apps.

    After building Detect VPN, Appdome generates a Certified Secure™ certificate to guarantee that the Detect VPN protection has been added and is protecting the app. To verify that the Detect VPN protection has been added to the mobile app, locate the protection in the Certified Secure™ certificate as shown below: Detect VPN 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 VPN has been added to each Mobile app. Certified Secure provides instant and in-line DevSecOps compliance certification that Detect VPN and other mobile app security features are in each build of the mobile app

Using Threat-Events™ for VPN Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps

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

The specifications and options for Threat-Events™ for VPN are:

Threat-Event™ Elements Detect VPN Method Detail
Appdome Feature Name Detect VPN
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 VPN Threat-Event™
Threat-Event NAME ActiveVpnDetected
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
deviceBrand Brand of the device
deviceBoard Board of the device
buildUser Build user
buildHost Build host
sdkVersion Sdk version
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), Mobile developers can get detailed attack intelligence and granular defense control in Mobile applications and create amazing user experiences for all mobile end users when VPN is detected.

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


Using Appdome, there are no development or coding prerequisites to build secured Mobile Apps by using Detect VPN. 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 VPN

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.

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