How to Enforce SSL TLS Cipher Suites in Mobile Apps

Last updated August 11, 2022 by Appdome

Learn to Enforce TLS Cipher Suites in Mobile apps, in mobile CI/CD with a Data-Driven DevSecOps™ build system.

What are Outdated TLS Cipher-Suites?

The TLS/SSL protocol has been around for a very long time, and it supports a wide range of cryptographic algorithms for establishing a secure communication channel and communicating over it.
The protocol still supports some cryptographic algorithms that are now considered outdated, and it is not uncommon for some servers to have outdated configurations.

Why Enforce TLS Cipher Suites in Mobile Apps ?

The TLS/SSL protocol still supports some cryptographic algorithms that are now considered outdated, and it is not uncommon for some servers to have outdated configurations.
The reason these algorithms were deemed inadequate is twofold:
• Some algorithms were proven to have weaknesses.
• With the increase in available computing power, some algorithms have become susceptible to brute-force attacks.
In addition, it is not uncommon for attackers to intentionally impersonate servers or weaken their parameters in order to make secure channels not-so-secure anymore.
For these reasons, many organizations seek to enforce a limitation on allowed cipher suites used in their software.

Note:

While the images in this article display the feature in Android apps, the instructions are identical for Android and iOS-based devices.

Enforcing TLS Cipher Suites on Mobile apps by Using Appdome

On Appdome, follow these 3 simple steps to create self-defending Mobile Apps that Enforce TLS Cipher Suites 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 device or .apk or .aab
  2. Build the Protection: Enforce Cipher Suites.

    1. Building Enforce Cipher Suites by using Appdome’s DEV-API:

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

        Figure 1: Fusion Set that will contain the Enforce Cipher Suites 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 Enforce Cipher Suites feature via Appdome Console, to add the Enforce Cipher Suites 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 Enforce Cipher Suites feature via Appdome Console

      To build the Enforce Cipher Suites 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) Enforce Cipher Suites, as shown below. Enforce Cipher Suites option

        Figure 3: Enforce TLS Cipher Suites option

      3. When you select the Enforce Cipher Suites you'll notice that your Fusion Set you created in step 2.1.1 now bears the icon of the protection category that contains Enforce Cipher Suites

        Fusion Set applied Enforce Cipher Suites

        Figure 4: Fusion Set that displays the newly added Enforce Cipher Suites protection

      4. Select the Threat-Event™ in-app mobile Threat Defense and Intelligence policy for Enforce Cipher Suites:
        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 Enforce TLS Cipher Suites.

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

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects the use of non-approved cipher suites 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 Enforce Cipher Suites Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

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

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects and defends against TLS Cipher Suites (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 Enforce Cipher Suites Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

      5. Optional Configuration with Enforce Cipher Suites:
        1. Cipher Suites File

          Allows providing a text file Provide a text file with the enforced cipher suites.

      6. Click Build My App at the bottom of the Build Workflow (shown in Figure 3).
    Congratulations!  The Enforce Cipher Suites protection is now added to the mobile app
  3. Certify the Enforce Cipher Suites feature in Mobile Apps.

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

Using Threat-Events™ for TLS Cipher Suites Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps

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

The specifications and options for Threat-Events™ for TLS Cipher Suites are:

Threat-Event™ Elements Enforce TLS Cipher Suites Method Detail
Appdome Feature Name Enforce Cipher Suites
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 Enforcing TLS Cipher Suites Threat-Event™
Threat-Event NAME SslIncompatibleCipher
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
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
deviceBrandBrand of the device
deviceBoardBoard of the device
buildUserBuild user
buildHostBuild host
sdkVersionSdk version
timeZoneTime zone
deviceFaceDownIs the device face down
locationLongLocation long
locationLatLocation lat
locationStateLocation state
wifiSsidWifi SSID
wifiSsidPermissionStatusWifi SSID permission status
hostFailed host
IncompatibleCipherIdFailed cipher ID
DeveventDetailedErrorMessageError message
extendedMessageTextExtended message

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 TLS Cipher Suites are detected.

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

Prerequisites to Using Enforce Cipher Suites:

To use Appdome’s mobile app security build system to Enforce TLS Cipher Suites , you’ll need:

Using Appdome, there are no development or coding prerequisites to build secured Apps by using Enforce Cipher Suites. 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 Enforce Cipher Suites

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 Enforce Cipher Suites

Here are a few related resources:

Check this document about cipher-suites from OpenSSL.org.

If you are interested in limiting other aspects of TLS, you should check out how you can Enforce Certificate Roles or Enforce TLS Version.

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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