How to Block Non-SSL Connections

Last updated October 31, 2022 by Appdome

Learn to Block Non-SSL Connections in iOS apps, in mobile CI/CD with a Data-Driven DevSecOps™ build system.

What is a Non-SSL Connection?

Non-SSL connections are connections that do not use SSL/TLS encryption and usually use the HTTP protocol. Packets in connections that are being sent through this protocol contain clear text, which makes these packets insecure and prone to vulnerabilities. Examples of such vulnerabilities are man-in-the-middle attacks, which allow eavesdropping and tampering with the content. While nowadays most sites already switched to HTTPS protocol that uses SSL/TLS, some are still using regular HTTP to take advantage of the initial connection speed. When connection is established via HTTP, it does not perform an SSL handshake to begin the connection. The use of HTTP is mainly common in connections where the performance and the user experience is the most important, while the outgoing contents of the connection packets do not contain sensitive data like ads.

Why Block Non-SSL Connections ?

Non-SSL connections are unencrypted and are easy to read. This is unsafe, as the contained data can be tampered and listened to during a man-in-the-middle attack. The data in Non-SSL connections may contain sensitive data, such as tokens and cookies related to user logins, device info, user input, and passwords. Blocking all non-SSL connections is important even if the app only accesses SSL/TLS based URLs. The reason is that even then these URLs could contain content that is being loaded through plain HTTP requests, and this content can be tampered, thereby making the app endanger your user; For example: request sensitive user data from a database. Additionally, URLs without the secured TLS/SSL extension are not authenticated by a certificate. This allows potential attackers to create URLs that only seem valid but return malicious answers to requests submitted from the app.

Blocking Non-SSL Connections on iOS apps by Using Appdome

On Appdome, follow these 3 simple steps to create self-defending iOS Apps that Block Non-SSL Connections 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
  2. Build the Protection: Block Non-SSL Connection.

    1. Building Block Non-SSL Connection by using Appdome’s DEV-API:

      1. Create and name the Fusion Set (security template) that will contain the Block Non-SSL Connection feature as shown below:
      2. fusion set that contains Block Non-SSL Connection

        Figure 1: Fusion Set that will contain the Block Non-SSL Connection 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 Block Non-SSL Connection feature via Appdome Console, to add the Block Non-SSL Connection 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 Block Non-SSL Connection feature via Appdome Console

      To build the Block Non-SSL Connection protection by using Appdome Console, follow the instructions below.

      1. Where: Inside the Appdome Console, go to Build > Security Tab > Secure Communication section
      2. How: Toggle (turn ON) Block Non-SSL Connection, as shown belowNon-SSL Connections, If needed, Customize the Threat Notification to be displayed to the mobile end-user in a standard OS dialog notification when Appdome Blocks . Block Non-SSL Connection option

        Figure 3: Block Non-SSL Connections option
        Note: The App Compromise Notification contains an easy to follow default remediation path for the mobile app end user. You can customize this message as required to achieve brand specific support, workflow or other messaging.

      3. When you select the Block Non-SSL Connection you'll notice that your Fusion Set you created in step 2.1.1 now bears the icon of the protection category that contains Block Non-SSL Connection

        Fusion Set applied Block Non-SSL Connection

        Figure 4: Fusion Set that displays the newly added Block Non-SSL Connection protection

      4. Select the Threat-Event™ in-app mobile Threat Defense and Intelligence policy for Block Non-SSL Connection:
        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 Block Non-SSL Connections.

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

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects a non-secure connection (connection over HTTP) 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 Block Non-SSL Connection Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

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

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects and defends against Non-SSL Connections (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 Block Non-SSL Connection Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

      5. Click Build My App at the bottom of the Build Workflow (shown in Figure 3).
    Congratulations!  The Block Non-SSL Connection protection is now added to the mobile app
  3. Certify the Block Non-SSL Connection feature in iOS Apps.

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

Using Threat-Events™ for Non-SSL Connections Intelligence and Control in iOS Apps

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

The specifications and options for Threat-Events™ for Non-SSL Connections are:

Threat-Event™ Elements Block Non-SSL Connections Method Detail
Appdome Feature Name Block Non-SSL Connection
Threat-Event Mode
OFF, IN-APP DEFENSE Appdome detects, defends and notifies user (standard OS dialog) using customizable messaging.
ON, IN-APP DETECTON 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 Blocking Non-SSL Connections Threat-Event™
Threat-Event NAME SslNonSslConnection
Threat-Event DATA reasonData
Threat-Event CODE reasonCode
Threat-Event REF 6500-1
Threat-Event SCORE
currentThreatEventScore Current Threat-Event score
threatEventsScore Total Threat-events score
Threat-Event Context Keys
messageMessage displayed for the user on event
externalIDThe external ID of the event which can be listened via Threat Events
osVersionOS version of the current device
deviceModelCurrent device model
deviceManufacturerThe manufacturer of the current device
fusedAppTokenThe task ID of the Appdome fusion of the currently running app
kernelInfoInfo about the kernel: system name, node name, release, version and machine.
carrierPlmnPLMN of the device
deviceIDCurrent device ID
reasonCodeReason code of the occured event
buildDateAppdome fusion date of the current application
devicePlatformOS name of the current device
carrierNameCarrier name of the current device
updatedOSVersionIs the OS version up to date
timeZoneTime zone
deviceFaceDownIs the device face down
locationLongLocation long
locationLatLocation lat
locationStateLocation state
wifiSsidWifi SSID
wifiSsidPermissionStatusWifi SSID permission status
hostFailed host
DeveventDetailedErrorMessageError message
extendedMessageTextExtended message

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 Non-SSL Connections is detected.

The following is a code sample for native iOS apps, which uses all values in the specification above for Block Non-SSL Connection:

Prerequisites to Using Block Non-SSL Connection:

To use Appdome’s mobile app security build system to Block Non-SSL Connections , you’ll need:

Using Appdome, there are no development or coding prerequisites to build secured Apps by using Block Non-SSL Connection. 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 Block Non-SSL Connection

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:

All apps protected by Appdome are fully compatible with any public app store, including Apple App Store, Google Play, Huawei App Gallery and more.

Protections Similar to Block Non-SSL Connection

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!

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