How to Protect Floating Windows and Dynamic Content in Android Apps

Last updated September 22, 2022 by Appdome

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

What is Appdome's Prevent Screen Sharing feature?

Prevent App Screen Sharing is used to ensure sensitive data is not recorded from the app’s screen. Screenshots, mirroring, and sharing the app’s screen is prevented.

The Appdome feature Prevent App Screen Sharing prevents the sharing of screens on Android applications. For full and complete protection, Appdome Protect Dynamically Generated Windows secures those Android UI elements that do not expose a developer-facing API, such as Android floating windows.

Why Protect Floating Windows and Dynamically Generated Windows in Android apps ?

When a developer sets the FLAG_SECURE for chosen Android UI elements, the underlying infrastructure of Android treats the content of the window as secure, preventing it from appearing in screenshots or from being viewed on non-secure displays. However, due to a design flaw in the Android framework, there are several exceptions. When setting the flag on an Activity or Fragment, the secured protection isn’t inherited by all of its “children” (aka small UI elements), such as various dialogs, floating windows or menus, and popups.

Appdome Protect Dynamically Generated Windows prevents those UI elements’ visibility on screen grab applications ensuring that sensitive data is not recorded from the app’s screen.

Furthermore, on many UI elements, it is fairly difficult to set the FLAG_SECURED, due to lack of a developer-facing API (f.e. Spinner or Toast). On some 3rd party UI frameworks, such as React-Native, the FLAG_SECURED cannot be passed at all without modifying the React-Native framework. Protect Dynamically Generated Windows enables you to protect even those UI elements that do not expose a developer facing API, among many others:

Preventing Screen Sharing on Android apps by Using Appdome

On Appdome, follow these 3 simple steps to create self-defending Android Apps that Prevent Screen Sharing 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
  2. Build the Protection: Prevent App Screen Sharing.

    1. Building Prevent App Screen Sharing by using Appdome’s DEV-API:

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

        Figure 1: Fusion Set that will contain the Prevent App Screen Sharing 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 App Screen Sharing feature via Appdome Console, to add the Prevent App Screen Sharing 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 App Screen Sharing feature via Appdome Console

      To build the Prevent App Screen Sharing protection by using Appdome Console, follow the instructions below.

      1. Where: Inside the Appdome Console, go to Build > Security Tab > Mobile Privacy section
      2. How: Toggle (turn ON) Prevent App Screen Sharing, as shown below Screen Sharing, If needed, Customize the Threat Notification to be displayed to the mobile end-user in a standard OS dialog notification when Appdome Prevents . Prevent App Screen Sharing option

        Figure 3: Prevent Screen Sharing 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.

      3. When you select the Prevent App Screen Sharing 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 App Screen Sharing

        Fusion Set applied Prevent App Screen Sharing

        Figure 4: Fusion Set that displays the newly added Prevent App Screen Sharing protection

      4. Optional Configuration with Prevent App Screen Sharing:
        1. Protect Dynamically Generated Windows

          Extends App Screen Sharing Prevention to all Android floating windows.

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

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

Prerequisites to Using Prevent App Screen Sharing:

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

Using Appdome, there are no development or coding prerequisites to build secured Apps by using Prevent App Screen Sharing. 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 App Screen Sharing

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 App Screen Sharing

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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