How to use iOS TLS & SSL Certificate Validation, Prevent MiTM Attacks

Last updated August 28, 2022 by Appdome

Learn to Prevent MiTM and SSL Bypass in iOS apps, in mobile CI/CD with a Data-Driven DevSecOps™ build system.

What is MiTM and SSL Bypass?

MitM attacks and malicious proxies are critical attack methods and tools used by hackers to compromise mobile app data in transit. According to OWASP, Mobile MitM attacks target the connection between a mobile app and the server it connects to. Hackers use many methods to achieve MitM attacks, including attaching proxies to insecure network or wifi connections, exploiting stale session IDs, phishing, modifying DNS, using fake or forged SSL certificates, and more.

Why Prevent MiTM and SSL Bypass in iOS Apps ?

Appdome MitM Prevention ensures that all mobile sessions, connections, and certificates are valid and trusted. Appdome’s malicious proxy protection and Man-in-the-Middle attack protection work by detecting and preventing any intercepted session by an unauthorized or unknown party and redirected to a malicious server or proxy. This protects data in transit and prevents unauthorized access to mobile app data in transit.

Preventing MiTM and SSL Bypass on iOS apps by Using Appdome

On Appdome, follow these 3 simple steps to create self-defending iOS Apps that Prevent MiTM and SSL Bypass 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: Secure Communication - iOS MiTM Prevention.

    1. Building Secure Communication - iOS MiTM Prevention by using Appdome’s DEV-API:

      1. Create and name the Fusion Set (security template) that will contain the Secure Communication - iOS MiTM Prevention feature as shown below:
      2. fusion set that contains Secure Communication - iOS MiTM Prevention

        Figure 1: Fusion Set that will contain the Secure Communication - iOS MiTM Prevention 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 Secure Communication - iOS MiTM Prevention feature via Appdome Console, to add the Secure Communication - iOS MiTM Prevention 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 Secure Communication - iOS MiTM Prevention feature via Appdome Console

      To build the Secure Communication - iOS MiTM Prevention 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) Secure Communication - iOS MiTM Prevention, as shown belowMiTM and SSL Bypass, If needed, Customize the Threat Notification to be displayed to the mobile end-user in a standard OS dialog notification when Appdome Prevents . Secure Communication - iOS MiTM Prevention option

        Figure 3: Prevent MiTM and SSL Bypass 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 Secure Communication - iOS 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 Secure Communication - iOS MiTM Prevention

        Fusion Set applied Secure Communication - iOS MiTM Prevention

        Figure 4: Fusion Set that displays the newly added Secure Communication - iOS MiTM Prevention protection

      4. Select the Threat-Event™ in-app mobile Threat Defense and Intelligence policy for Secure Communication - iOS MiTM Prevention:
        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 MiTM and SSL Bypass.

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

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects When mitm attack is detected 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 Secure Communication - iOS MiTM Prevention Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

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

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects and defends against MiTM and SSL Bypass (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 Secure Communication - iOS MiTM Prevention Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

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

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

Using Threat-Events™ for MiTM and SSL Bypass Intelligence and Control in iOS Apps

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

The specifications and options for Threat-Events™ for MiTM and SSL Bypass are:

Threat-Event™ Elements Prevent MiTM and SSL Bypass Method Detail
Appdome Feature Name Secure Communication - iOS MiTM Prevention
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 Preventing MiTM and SSL Bypass 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
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), 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 MiTM and SSL Bypass is detected.

The following is a code sample for native iOS apps, which uses all values in the specification above for Secure Communication - iOS MiTM Prevention:

Prerequisites to Using Secure Communication - iOS MiTM Prevention:

To use Appdome’s mobile app security build system to Prevent MiTM and SSL Bypass , you’ll need:

Using Appdome, there are no development or coding prerequisites to build secured Apps by using Secure Communication - iOS MiTM Prevention. 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 Secure Communication - iOS MiTM Prevention

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 Secure Communication - iOS MiTM Prevention

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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