How to Prevent Android Apps from Running on Emulators

Last updated March 3, 2024 by Appdome

Learn to Prevent Running on Emulators in Android apps, in mobile CI/CD with a Data-Driven DevSecOps™ build system.

What are Emulators?

Emulators are virtualized tools used for running software tests on mobile apps inside flexible, software-defined environments. Using emulators enables simulating, modeling, and mimicking mobile application software & hardware behavior, including how apps interact with the mobile Android and other systems. Emulators create an operating environment that looks and functions much like the mobile device model, with many of the capabilities of a real Android device. For example, emulators can mimic incoming phone calls and text messages, location services, various network speeds, device orientation/rotation, and different hardware sensors. QA teams use emulators for testing new mobile features, as well as app performance, while developers use them as a cheap alternative to obtaining real devices for testing.

Why Should Developers Prevent Apps from Running on Emulators?

Emulators are very popular and useful tools for hackers. Hackers use emulators 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, a knowledge that helps them build more effective attacks and attack methods. For example, hackers can observe how an application app reads/writes to the filesystem, thereby learning if weak encryption is used. Furthermore, hackers can use emulators to perform custom modifications to the Android behavior, such as removing security controls. Using emulators also means hackers are not limited by the computational capabilities of the physical device and can run through their attack vector testing much faster by using multiple instances of the app in parallel.

Prerequisites for Using Prevent Running on Emulators:

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

Prevent Running on Emulators on Android apps using Appdome

On Appdome, follow these simple steps to create self-defending Android Apps that Prevent Running on Emulators 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. Prevent Running on Emulators Compatible With: Java, JS, C++, C#, Kotlin, Flutter, React Native, Unity, Xamarin, Cordova and other Android apps
  2. Build the feature: Prevent Running on Emulators.

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

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

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

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

      1. Where: Inside the Appdome Console, go to Build > Security Tab > Secure Communication section.
      2. When you enable Anti-Emulator 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 Emulators

        Fusion Set applied Prevent Running on Emulators

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

      3. Select the Threat-Event™ in-app mobile Threat Defense and Intelligence policy for Prevent Running on Emulators:
        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 Prevent Running on Emulators.

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

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects that an Android app is running on an emulator 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 Prevent Running on Emulators Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

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

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects and defends against Running on Emulators (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 Prevent Running on Emulators Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

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

Using Threat-Events™ for Running on Emulators Intelligence and Control in Android Apps

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

The specifications and options for Threat-Events™ for Running on Emulators are:

Threat-Event™ Elements Prevent Running on Emulators Method Detail
Appdome Feature Name Prevent Running on Emulators
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 Preventing Running on Emulators Threat-Event™
Threat-Event NAME EmulatorFound
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 longitude conditioned by location permission
locationLat Location latitude conditioned by location permission
locationState Location state conditioned by location permission
wifiSsid Wifi SSID
wifiSsidPermissionStatus Wifi SSID permission status

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 Running on Emulators are detected.

The following is a code sample for native Android apps, which uses all values in the specification above for Prevent Running on Emulators:


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

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.

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