How to Block Mobile Bots Using Session & Header Secrets

Last updated January 9, 2024 by Appdome

Learn to Block queries from automated bots in Mobile apps, in mobile CI/CD with a Data-Driven DevSecOps™ build system.

What is a shared secret?

Shared Secret is a cryptographic key or data that is only known to the parties involved in a secured communication. Using a Shared Secret helps developers to verify that requests are coming from a valid mobile app, rather than a Bot/Botnet. Blocking queries from Bot/Botnets is significant because such queries are usually made for malicious purposes, such as obtaining knowledge by sending many queries at once from allegedly private IP addresses or performing a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.

How do Developers Implement Shared Secret by Using Appdome?

Important: Service for the Shared Secrets feature has ended as of December 31st 2023.
We invite you to upgrade to our Mobile Bot Defense solution for enhanced mobile app security. For more information, please contact our support team at support.appdome.com.

 

Shared Secret is created by specifying a “word” – namely, a unique string or passcode that proves the app’s authenticity to the server – to use for the communication between the app and the server.
Using the Shared Secret feature allows you to specify the word to be used as a shared secret. That word will be embedded in the app and applied to every request going out from the mobile app, thus indicating that the request is authentic and comes from a valid app. Then the WAF can filter the traffic to verify the existence of the shared secret in the request header, and block all requests that do not include the  shared secret.

 

Prerequisites for Using Shared Secret:

To use Appdome’s mobile app security build system to Block queries from automated bots , you’ll need:

Block queries from automated bots on Mobile apps using Appdome

On Appdome, follow these 3 simple steps to create self-defending Mobile Apps that Block queries from automated bots 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. Shared Secret Compatible With: Obj-C, Java, JS, C#, C++, Swift, Kotlin, Flutter, React Native, Unity, Xamarin, and more
  2. Build the feature: Shared Secret.

    1. Building Shared Secret by using Appdome’s DEV-API:

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

        Figure 1: Fusion Set that will contain the Shared Secret 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 Shared Secret feature via Appdome Console, to add the Shared Secret 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, Circle 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 Shared Secret feature via Appdome Console

      To build the Shared Secret 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 Shared Secret you'll notice that your Fusion Set you created in step 2.1.1 now bears the icon of the protection category that contains Shared Secret

        Fusion Set applied Shared Secret

        Figure 4: Fusion Set that displays the newly added Shared Secret protection

      3. Extra Configuration with Shared Secret:
        1. Http Signing Host List

          File containing a list of domains to include the Secure Signature header (wildcards are acceptable).

        2. Secret Text

          Unique text that comprises your secret.

        3. Signature Header

          Optionally specify a name for the signature header (for example: X-MYCOMPANY-SIGNATUREi).

      4. Click Build My App at the bottom of the Build Workflow (shown in Figure 3).
    Congratulations!  The Shared Secret protection is now added to the mobile app

Using Threat-Events™ for queries from automated bots Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps

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

The specifications and options for Threat-Events™ for queries from automated bots are:

Threat-Event™ Elements Block queries from automated bots Method Detail
Appdome Feature Name Shared Secret
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 x
Visible in ThreatScope™ x
Developer Parameters for Blocking queries from automated bots Threat-Event™
Threat-Event NAME
Threat-Event DATA reasonData
Threat-Event CODE reasonCode
Threat-Event REF
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 longitude conditioned by location permission
locationLat Location latitude conditioned by location permission
locationState Location state conditioned by location permission
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 queries from automated bots is detected.

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


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

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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