How to Prevent Session Hijacking Attacks, Prevent MitM Attacks in Android & iOS Apps

Last updated January 9, 2023 by Appdome

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

What is Session Hijacking?

The Session Hijacking attack exploits the web session control mechanism, which is normally managed for a session token.
Session Hijacking attack compromises the session token by stealing or predicting a valid session token to gain unauthorized access to the Web Server.

The session token could be compromised in different ways; Some of the most common are: Predictable session token, Session Sniffing, and Man-in-the-middle attack.

Why Prevent Session Hijacking in Mobile Apps?

In a session hijacking attack, a hacker takes control of a user’s browsing session to gain access to their personal information and passwords.
If a hacker can steal a user’s session ID, they may also be able to infect the user’s device with malware. This can allow them to gain control of the target’s device and steal their data.

Appdome detects, prohibits, and protects app connections from session hijacking by validating the server SSL certificate chain’s authenticity and providing authenticity proof to the server on behalf of the client.

Preventing Session Hijacking on Mobile apps by Using Appdome

On Appdome, follow these simple steps to create self-defending Mobile Apps that Prevent Session Hijacking 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 feature: Prevent Session Hijacking.

    1. Building Prevent Session Hijacking by using Appdome’s DEV-API:

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

        Figure 1: Fusion Set that will contain the Prevent Session Hijacking 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 Prevent Session Hijacking feature via Appdome Console, to add the Prevent Session Hijacking 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 Prevent Session Hijacking feature via Appdome Console

      To build the Prevent Session Hijacking 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: Check whether MiTM Prevention is toggled On (enabled), otherwise enable it . You can see that the feature Prevent Session Hijacking is enabled by default, as shown below. Prevent Session Hijacking option

        Figure 3: Prevent Session Hijacking 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 enable MiTM Prevention you'll notice that your Fusion Set you created in step 2.1.1 now bears the icon of the protection category that contains Prevent Session Hijacking

        Fusion Set applied Prevent Session Hijacking

        Figure 4: Fusion Set that displays the newly added Prevent Session Hijacking protection

      4. Select the Threat-Event™ in-app mobile Threat Defense and Intelligence policy for Prevent Session Hijacking:
        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 Prevent Session Hijacking.

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

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects a session hijacking attempt 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 Prevent Session Hijacking Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

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

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects and defends against Session Hijacking (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 Prevent Session Hijacking Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

      5. Click Build My App at the bottom of the Build Workflow (shown in Figure 3).
    Congratulations!  The Prevent Session Hijacking protection is now added to the mobile app
  3. Certify the Prevent Session Hijacking feature in Mobile Apps.

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

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

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

The specifications and options for Threat-Events™ for Session Hijacking are:

Threat-Event™ Elements Prevent Session Hijacking Method Detail
Appdome Feature Name Prevent Session Hijacking
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 Preventing Session Hijacking Threat-Event™
Threat-Event NAME SslCertificateValidationFailed
Threat-Event DATA reasonData
Threat-Event CODE reasonCode
Threat-Event REF 6500
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
DeveventDetailedErrorMessageError message
extendedMessageTextExtended message
certificateCNCertificate common name
certificateSHA1Certificate SHA1

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 Session Hijacking is detected.

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

Prerequisites to Using Prevent Session Hijacking:

To use Appdome’s mobile app security build system to Prevent Session Hijacking , you’ll need:

Using Appdome, there are no development or coding prerequisites to build secured Apps by using Prevent Session Hijacking. 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 Prevent Session Hijacking

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.

Features Similar to Prevent Session Hijacking

Here are a few related resources:

Check out this article on  MiTM attack prevention

To Zoom out on this topic, check out these resources.

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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