Binary Code Obfuscation, Anti-Reversing - Android & iOS
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:
Upload the Mobile App to Appdome.
Upload an app to Appdome’s Mobile App Security Build System
Upload Method: Appdome Console or DEV-API
Mobile App Formats: .ipa For iOS device or .apk or .aab
Build the feature: Binary Code Obfuscation.
Congratulations! The Binary Code Obfuscation protection is now added to the mobile app
Building Binary Code Obfuscation by using Appdome’s DEV-API:
Create and name the Fusion Set (security template) that will contain the Binary Code Obfuscation feature as shown below:
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.
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):
Figure 2: Fusion Set Detail Summary
Note: Annotating the Fusion Set to identify the protection(s) selected is optional only (not mandatory).
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:
Build an API for the app – for instructions, see the tasks under Appdome API Reference Guide
Look for sample APIs in Appdome’s GitHub Repository
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).
Building the Binary Code Obfuscation feature via Appdome Console
To build the Binary Code Obfuscation protection by using Appdome Console, follow the instructions below.
Where: Inside the Appdome Console, go to Build > Security Tab > TOTALCode™ Obfuscation section
How: Toggle (turn ON) Binary Code Obfuscation, as shown below.
If needed, Customize the Threat Notification to be displayed to the mobile end-user in a standard OS dialog notification when Appdome Prevents Revese Engineering.
Figure 3: Prevent Revese Engineering 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.
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
Figure 4: Fusion Set that displays the newly added Binary Code Obfuscation protection
- Extra Configuration with Binary Code Obfuscation:
- Favor App’s Size
Automatically detect and exclude publicly available elements from being obfuscated, to reduce overall application package size.
Click Build My App at the bottom of the Build Workflow (shown in Figure 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:
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:
- Appdome account (create a free Appdome account here)
- A license for Binary Code Obfuscation
- Mobile App (.ipa For iOS device or .apk or .aab For Mobile)
- Signing Credentials (see Signing Secure Android apps and Signing Secure iOS apps)
Using Appdome, there are no development or coding prerequisites to build secured Mobile 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:
- Customizing, Configuring & Branding Secure Mobile Apps
- Deploying/Publishing Secure mobile apps to Public or Private app stores
- Releasing Secured Android & iOS Apps built on Appdome.
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 Binary Code Obfuscation
Here are a few related resources:
Non-Native Code Obfuscation, Anti-Reversing for Android & iOS Frameworks
Obfuscate Mobile Business Logic, Anti-Reversing in Android & iOS Apps
Dex Control Flow Relocation, Anti-Reversing for Android Apps
If you have any questions, please send them our way at support.appdome.com or via the chat window on the Appdome platform.
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.