Binary Code Obfuscation, Anti-Reversing for Android & iOS Apps

Last updated August 11, 2022 by Appdome

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

Why is Obfuscation Efficient Against Reverse Engineering?

Decompilers have reached a maturity level that allows them to easily recover  source code from mobile apps. Binary code obfuscation proved itself as an efficient first line of defense against reverse engineering attempts by hackers. What sets various obfuscation solutions apart is several things: (1) Ease of use (specialized compilers to post-build tools), (2) Performance (some obfuscation methods might impose a performance penalty), and (3) the reference threat level (expertise and time needed to break the defense).

How does Appdome Implement Binary Code Obfuscation ?

In iOS, the application’s executable manifests as binary code. Appdome shuffles the code around, so that when the reverse engineering tool attempts to determine the target of a reference, it will appear as though it points to some arbitrary location. On a large scale, this renders the code completely unintelligible. However, the application must contain enough binary code to make the shuffling effective, otherwise it is advisable to use Appdome Flow Relocation as an alternative.

In Android, shared-libraries constitute the native-code part of the app. Appdome uses the loading mechanism of shared libraries in Android and modifies it so encrypted libraries can be loaded. Then, when integrating Binary Code Obfuscation, the native libraries that come with the application get encrypted by using a unique key.

When an attacker attempts to open the protected libraries in a reverse engineering tool, the applications will fail at recognizing the file as binary code.

Preventing Revese Engineering on Mobile apps by Using Appdome

On Appdome, follow these 3 simple steps to create self-defending Mobile Apps that Prevent Revese Engineering 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: Binary Code Obfuscation.

    1. Building Binary Code Obfuscation by using Appdome’s DEV-API:

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

        Figure 1: Fusion Set that will contain the Binary Code Obfuscation 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 Binary Code Obfuscation feature via Appdome Console, to add the Binary Code Obfuscation 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 Binary Code Obfuscation feature via Appdome Console

      To build the Binary Code Obfuscation protection by using Appdome Console, follow the instructions below.

      1. Where: Inside the Appdome Console, go to Build > Security Tab > TOTALCode™ Obfuscation section
      2. How: Toggle (turn ON) Binary Code Obfuscation, as shown below. Binary Code Obfuscation option

        Figure 3: Prevent Revese Engineering option

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

        Fusion Set applied Binary Code Obfuscation

        Figure 4: Fusion Set that displays the newly added Binary Code Obfuscation protection

      4. Click Build My App at the bottom of the Build Workflow (shown in Figure 3).
    Congratulations!  The Binary Code Obfuscation protection is now added to the mobile app
  3. Certify the Binary Code Obfuscation feature in Mobile Apps.

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

Prerequisites to Using Binary Code Obfuscation:

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

Using Appdome, there are no development or coding prerequisites to build secured Apps by using Binary Code Obfuscation. 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 Binary Code Obfuscation

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 Binary Code Obfuscation

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!

Thanks for visiting Appdome! Our mission is to secure every app on the planet by making mobile app security easy. We hope we’re living up to the mission with your project.

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