How to Block Simulators in Android & IOS Apps

Last updated August 11, 2022 by Appdome

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

What is Simulation?

Simulators are virtualized tools that are used to run software tests on mobile apps inside flexible, software-defined environments.  Hackers use simulators for malicious purposes as part of dynamic analysis efforts, where they run your mobile app in their own controlled environment to learn how your app behaves and interacts with other components or systems while it’s running.

Why Prevent Simulation in Mobile Apps ?

Hackers use simulators to run mobile apps within their own controlled environment so they can mimic, observe, and study how a mobile app functions and behaves while the app is running. This lets them know how a mobile app behaves to help hackers build more effective attacks and attack methods.

For example, using simulators, hackers can observe how an app interacts with the mobile operating system, or study the methods and sequence by which the app connects to and authenticates with its backend. Simulators can also be used to observe how an application app reads/writes to the filesystem (for instance to learn if weak encryption is used, or no encryption at all).

Preventing Simulation on Mobile apps by Using Appdome

On Appdome, follow these 3 simple steps to create self-defending Mobile Apps that Prevent Simulation 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: Prevent Running on Simulators.

    1. Building Prevent Running on Simulators by using Appdome’s DEV-API:

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

        Figure 1: Fusion Set that will contain the Prevent Running on Simulators 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 Running on Simulators feature via Appdome Console, to add the Prevent Running on Simulators 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 Running on Simulators feature via Appdome Console

      To build the Prevent Running on Simulators protection by using Appdome Console, follow the instructions below.

      1. Where: Inside the Appdome Console, go to Build > Security Tab > ONEShield™ section . Like all other options in ONEShield™, Simulation is turned on by default, as shown below: Prevent Running on Simulators option

        Figure 3: Prevent Simulation 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.

      2. When you select the Prevent Running on Simulators 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 Running on Simulators

        Fusion Set applied Prevent Running on Simulators

        Figure 4: Fusion Set that displays the newly added Prevent Running on Simulators protection

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

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

Prerequisites to Using Prevent Running on Simulators:

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

Using Appdome, there are no development or coding prerequisites to build secured Apps by using Prevent Running on Simulators. 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 Running on Simulators

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 Prevent Running on Simulators

Here are a few related resources:

To learn all of the security features included in Appdome ONEShield, visit the OneShield Knowledge Base article.

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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