How to Obfuscate Debug Information & Prevent Reverse Engineering in Android Apps
Learn to Obfuscate Debug Information in Android apps, in mobile CI/CD with a Data-Driven DevSecOps™ build system.
What is Debug Information?
Debug information is data stored inside the code of a mobile app which aids the developer in troubleshooting, tracking down issues, and fixing bugs more easily. Debug information can also be used by bad actors who want to learn how your app works by reverse engineering your code (or other malicious purposes like copying or stealing your intellectual property). Your final production app should be built in release mode (which does not contain debug information). However, more often than not, the released mobile app does contain debug information such as source code file names, line numbers, variable names and symbol names. Rather than going back to the developer and asking them to modify the app, Appdome offers a quick and easy way to strip debug information from the Android or iOS app – instantly without code or coding.
Why Obfuscate Debug Information in Android Apps?
Debug information in mobile apps can display information that leaves a mobile app vulnerable to attacks. Examples of the information which can be exposed are the source code file names, line numbers, variable names and symbol names to name a few. You can use Appdome to remove debug information from the logs for additional mobile app protection.
Prerequisites to Using Strip Debug Information:
To use Appdome’s mobile app security build system to Obfuscate Debug Information , you’ll need:
- Appdome account (create a free Appdome account here)
- A license for Strip Debug Information
- Mobile App (.apk or .aab For Android)
- Signing Credentials (see Signing Secure Android apps and Signing Secure iOS apps)
Obfuscate Debug Information on Android apps using Appdome
On Appdome, follow these 3 simple steps to create self-defending Android Apps that Obfuscate Debug Information 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
Android Formats: .apk or .aab
Strip Debug Information Compatible With: Java, JS, C++, C#, Kotlin, Flutter, React Native, Unity, Xamarin, Cordova and other Android apps
Build the feature: Strip Debug Information.
Congratulations! The Strip Debug Information protection is now added to the mobile app
Building Strip Debug Information by using Appdome’s DEV-API:
Create and name the Fusion Set (security template) that will contain the Strip Debug Information feature as shown below:
Follow the steps in Sections 2.2.1-2.2.2 of this article, Building the Strip Debug Information feature via Appdome Console, to add the Strip Debug Information 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:
Figure 1: Fusion Set that will contain the Strip Debug Information feature
Note: Naming the Fusion Set to correspond to the protection(s) selected is for illustration purposes only (not required).
Building the Strip Debug Information feature via Appdome Console
To build the Strip Debug Information 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) Strip Debug Information, 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 Obfuscates Debug Information.
Figure 3: Obfuscate Debug Information 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 Strip Debug Information you'll notice that your Fusion Set you created in step 2.1.1 now bears the icon of the protection category that contains Strip Debug Information
Figure 4: Fusion Set that displays the newly added Strip Debug Information protection
- Extra Configuration with Strip Debug Information:
- Strip Export Names
Remove the index that associates symbol names with addresses. Note: this feature cannot be used when the application loads its own symbols.
Click Build My App at the bottom of the Build Workflow (shown in Figure 3).
Certify the Strip Debug Information feature in Android Apps.
After building Strip Debug Information, Appdome generates a Certified Secure™ certificate to guarantee that the Strip Debug Information protection has been added and is protecting the app. To verify that the Strip Debug Information 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 Strip Debug Information has been added to each Android app. Certified Secure provides instant and in-line DevSecOps compliance certification that Strip Debug Information and other mobile app security features are in each build of the mobile app
Using Appdome, there are no development or coding prerequisites to build secured Android Apps by using Strip Debug Information. 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 Strip Debug Information
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.
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.