How to Add Self-Modifying Root Detection in Android Apps

Last updated December 21, 2023 by Appdome

Learn to Detect Self-Modifying Root in Android apps, in mobile CI/CD with a Data-Driven DevSecOps™ build system.

What is self-modifying root detection?

An attacker can create a Self Modifying Root application on rooted devices, which modifies itself during runtime (by changing its name, for example), to hide from other applications or prevent its detection by security products.

How does Appdome Detect Self-modifying Root?

As part of the Root Detection protection, Appdome detects applications running on Rooted Devices devices capable of modifying their binary file to avoid detection.

Prerequisites for Using Self-Modifying Root Detection:

To use Appdome’s mobile app security build system to Detect Self-Modifying Root , you’ll need:

Detect Self-Modifying Root on Android apps using Appdome

On Appdome, follow these simple steps to create self-defending Android Apps that Detect Self-Modifying Root 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. Android Formats: .apk or .aab
    4. Self-Modifying Root Detection Compatible With: Java, JS, C++, C#, Kotlin, Flutter, React Native, Unity, Xamarin, Cordova and other Android apps
  2. Build the feature: Self-Modifying Root Detection.

    1. Building Self-Modifying Root Detection by using Appdome’s DEV-API:

      1. Create and name the Fusion Set (security template) that will contain the Self-Modifying Root Detection feature as shown below:
      2. fusion set that contains Self-Modifying Root Detection

        Figure 1: Fusion Set that will contain the Self-Modifying Root Detection 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 Self-Modifying Root Detection feature via Appdome Console, to add the Self-Modifying Root Detection 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 Self-Modifying Root Detection feature via Appdome Console

      To build the Self-Modifying Root Detection protection by using Appdome Console, follow the instructions below.

      1. Where: Inside the Appdome Console, go to Build > Security Tab > OS Integrity section.
      2. When you enable Root Detection you'll notice that your Fusion Set you created in step 2.1.1 now bears the icon of the protection category that contains Self-Modifying Root Detection

        Fusion Set applied Self-Modifying Root Detection

        Figure 4: Fusion Set that displays the newly added Self-Modifying Root Detection protection

      3. Select the Threat-Event™ in-app mobile Threat Defense and Intelligence policy for Self-Modifying Root Detection:
        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 Self-Modifying Root.

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

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects if the application is capable of modifying its binary at runtime to avoid detection 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 Self-Modifying Root Detection Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

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

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects and defends against Self-Modifying Root (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 Self-Modifying Root Detection Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

      4. Click Build My App at the bottom of the Build Workflow (shown in Figure 3).
    Congratulations!  The Self-Modifying Root Detection protection is now added to the mobile app
  3. Certify the Self-Modifying Root Detection feature in Android Apps.

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

Using Threat-Events™ for Self-Modifying Root Intelligence and Control in Android Apps

Appdome Threat-Events™ provides consumable in-app mobile app attack intelligence and defense control when Self-Modifying Root are detected. To consume and use Threat-Events™ for Self-Modifying Root in Android Apps, use registerReceiver in the Application OnCreate, and the code samples for Threat-Events™ for Self-Modifying Root shown below.

The specifications and options for Threat-Events™ for Self-Modifying Root are:

Threat-Event™ Elements Detect Self-Modifying Root Method Detail
Appdome Feature Name Self-Modifying Root Detection
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 Self-Modifying Root Threat-Event™
Threat-Event NAME RootedDevice
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
internalError Internal error code as hex
extendedMessageText Internal error code
rInternalErrorCode Internal error code
reason Reason for the root detection

With Threat-Events™ enabled (turned ON), Android developers can get detailed attack intelligence and granular defense control in Android applications and create amazing user experiences for all mobile end users when Self-Modifying Root are detected.

The following is a code sample for native Android apps, which uses all values in the specification above for Self-Modifying Root Detection:


Using Appdome, there are no development or coding prerequisites to build secured Android Apps by using Self-Modifying Root Detection. 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 Self-Modifying Root Detection

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.

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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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