How to Use "Detect App is Debuggable" on Android Mobile Apps

Last updated February 22, 2024 by Appdome

Learn to Detect App Is Debuggable in Android apps, in mobile CI/CD with a Data-Driven DevSecOps™ build system.

What Does It Mean for an App to Be Debuggable?

When we refer to an app as being “debuggable”, we are describing the state in which an app has been configured, intentionally or unintentionally, to permit debugging by an external process. This external process is often another application running on the same mobile device. Debugging is a crucial aspect of software development, as it enables developers to closely monitor and modify an application’s behavior during the development phase. This facilitates the identification and resolution of various issues that may arise. Debugging is especially useful for diagnosing errors, testing features, and improving the overall quality of the app. However, it’s important to note that while debugging is an essential tool for developers, its continued presence in an app beyond the development phase can lead to significant security vulnerabilities.

Why Detecting 'Debuggable Apps' is Key for Security?

Detecting ‘debuggable apps’ is crucial for mobile app security because when an application is set to be debuggable, it can run the risk of exposing the mobile applications internal workings, data flow, and potentially sensitive data to malicious actors. Appdome actively checks for altered configurations, ensuring that applications remain untampered and impervious to unwanted debugging attempts. Thus, ensuring that mobile apps are not debuggable in production environments bolstering the safeguarding of user data and app integrity.

Prerequisites for Using Detect App is Debuggable:

To use Appdome’s mobile app security build system to Detect App Is Debuggable , you’ll need:

Detect App Is Debuggable on Android apps using Appdome

On Appdome, follow these 3 simple steps to create self-defending Android Apps that Detect App Is Debuggable 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. Android Formats: .apk or .aab
    4. Detect App is Debuggable Compatible With: Java, JS, C++, C#, Kotlin, Flutter, React Native, Unity, Xamarin, Cordova and other Android apps
  2. Build the feature: Detect App is Debuggable.

    1. Building Detect App is Debuggable by using Appdome’s DEV-API:

      1. Create and name the Fusion Set (security template) that will contain the Detect App is Debuggable feature as shown below:
      2. fusion set that contains Detect App is Debuggable

        Figure 1: Fusion Set that will contain the Detect App is Debuggable 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 Detect App is Debuggable feature via Appdome Console, to add the Detect App is Debuggable 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 Detect App is Debuggable feature via Appdome Console

      To build the Detect App is Debuggable protection by using Appdome Console, follow the instructions below.

      1. Where: Inside the Appdome Console, go to Build > Security Tab > ONEShield™ section.
      2. When you select the Detect App is Debuggable you'll notice that your Fusion Set you created in step 2.1.1 now bears the icon of the protection category that contains Detect App is Debuggable

        Fusion Set applied Detect App is Debuggable

        Figure 4: Fusion Set that displays the newly added Detect App is Debuggable protection

      3. Select the Threat-Event™ in-app mobile Threat Defense and Intelligence policy for Detect App is Debuggable:
        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 Detect App Is Debuggable.

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

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects App is Debuggable 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 Detect App is Debuggable Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

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

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects and defends against App Is Debuggable (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 Detect App is Debuggable Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

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

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

Using Threat-Events™ for App Is Debuggable Intelligence and Control in Android Apps

Appdome Threat-Events™ provides consumable in-app mobile app attack intelligence and defense control when App Is Debuggable is detected. To consume and use Threat-Events™ for App Is Debuggable in Android Apps, use registerReceiver in the Application OnCreate, and the code samples for Threat-Events™ for App Is Debuggable shown below.

The specifications and options for Threat-Events™ for App Is Debuggable are:

Threat-Event™ Elements Detect App Is Debuggable Method Detail
Appdome Feature Name Detect App is Debuggable
Threat-Event Mode
OFF, IN-APP DEFENSE Appdome detects, defends and notifies user (standard OS dialog) using customizable messaging.
ON, IN-APP DETECTION 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 Detecting App Is Debuggable Threat-Event™
Threat-Event NAME AppIsDebuggable
Threat-Event DATA reasonData
Threat-Event CODE reasonCode
Threat-Event REF 6801
Threat-Event SCORE
currentThreatEventScore Current Threat-Event score
threatEventsScore Total Threat-events score
Threat-Event Context Keys
message Message displayed for the user on event
externalID The external ID of the event which can be listened via Threat Events
osVersion OS version of the current device
deviceModel Current device model
deviceManufacturer The manufacturer of the current device
fusedAppToken The task ID of the Appdome fusion of the currently running app
kernelInfo Info about the kernel: system name, node name, release, version and machine.
carrierPlmn PLMN of the device
deviceID Current device ID
reasonCode Reason code of the occured event
buildDate Appdome fusion date of the current application
devicePlatform OS name of the current device
carrierName Carrier name of the current device
updatedOSVersion Is the OS version up to date
deviceBrand Brand of the device
deviceBoard Board of the device
buildUser Build user
buildHost Build host
sdkVersion Sdk version
timeZone Time zone
deviceFaceDown Is the device face down
locationLong Location long
locationLat Location lat
locationState Location state
wifiSsid Wifi SSID
wifiSsidPermissionStatus Wifi SSID permission status
reason Reason for detection

With Threat-Events™ enabled (turned ON), Android developers can get detailed attack intelligence and granular defense control in Android applications and create amazing user experiences for all mobile end users when App Is Debuggable is detected.

The following is a code sample for native Android apps, which uses all values in the specification above for Detect App is Debuggable:


Using Appdome, there are no development or coding prerequisites to build secured Android Apps by using Detect App is Debuggable. 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 Detect App is Debuggable

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:

Related Articles:

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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