How to Block Code Injection & Process Injection Attacks in Mobile Apps

Last updated August 28, 2022 by Appdome

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

What is Code Injection?

Dynamic and Static Code Injection are techniques used by attackers to inject malicious code into an app in order to get that code executed by the app or the server. The attacker’s goal is to gain access to data and to obtain some level of control of the app. For instance, attackers can use app form input fields to dynamically send the malicious code to the app or the server with which the app communicates. Another Code Injection method is patching and re-packaging the original app.

Why Prevent Code Injection in Mobile Apps ?

Code injection attacks can lead to data loss and security breaches. Such attacks can target databases, authentication protocols, and other critical flows of the app. Therefore, it is important to perform data validation and automatic code injection detection for the app’s outbound data stream.

Preventing Code Injection on Mobile apps by Using Appdome

On Appdome, follow these 3 simple steps to create self-defending Mobile Apps that Prevent Code Injection 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 Code Injection.

    1. Building Prevent Code Injection by using Appdome’s DEV-API:

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

        Figure 1: Fusion Set that will contain the Prevent Code Injection 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 Code Injection feature via Appdome Console, to add the Prevent Code Injection 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 Code Injection feature via Appdome Console

      To build the Prevent Code Injection protection by using Appdome Console, follow the instructions below.

      1. Where: Inside the Appdome Console, go to Build > Anti Fraud Tab > Mobile Cheat Prevention section
      2. How: Toggle (turn ON) Prevent Code Injection, as shown belowCode Injection, If needed, Customize the Threat Notification to be displayed to the mobile end-user in a standard OS dialog notification when Appdome Prevents . Prevent Code Injection option

        Figure 3: Prevent Code Injection 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 Code Injection 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 Code Injection

        Fusion Set applied Prevent Code Injection

        Figure 4: Fusion Set that displays the newly added Prevent Code Injection protection

      4. Select the Threat-Event™ in-app mobile Threat Defense and Intelligence policy for Prevent Code Injection:
        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 Code Injection.

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

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects app hooking and hooking frameworks 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 Code Injection Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

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

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects and defends against Code Injection (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 Code Injection Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

      5. Optional Configuration with Prevent Code Injection:
        1. Prevent app Hooking and Hooking Frameworks

          A hook is a means of executing custom code (function) either before, after, or instead of existing code. For example, a function may be written to “hook” into the login process of a mobile application and alter the authentication workflow (for example, the attacker can inject code that asks the user to input their social security number or re-type their password). Fraudsters use dynamic instrumentation toolkits like Frida to hook into the application and interact with the running processes and inject their own JavaScript code replacing the original code.

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

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

Using Threat-Events™ for Code Injection Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps

Appdome Threat-Events™ provides consumable in-app mobile app attack intelligence and defense control when Code Injection is detected. To consume and use Threat-Events™ for Code Injection in Mobile Apps, use AddObserverForName in Notification Center, and the code samples for Threat-Events™ for Code Injection shown below.

The specifications and options for Threat-Events™ for Code Injection are:

Threat-Event™ Elements Prevent Code Injection Method Detail
Appdome Feature Name Prevent Code Injection
Threat-Event Mode
OFF, IN-APP DEFENSE Appdome detects, defends and notifies user (standard OS dialog) using customizable messaging.
ON, IN-APP DETECTON 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 Code Injection Threat-Event™
Threat-Event NAME CodeInjectionDetected
Threat-Event DATA reasonData
Threat-Event CODE reasonCode
Threat-Event REF 6907
Threat-Event SCORE
currentThreatEventScore Current Threat-Event score
threatEventsScore Total Threat-events score
Threat-Event Context Keys
messageMessage displayed for the user on event
externalIDThe external ID of the event which can be listened via Threat Events
osVersionOS version of the current device
deviceModelCurrent device model
deviceManufacturerThe manufacturer of the current device
fusedAppTokenThe task ID of the Appdome fusion of the currently running app
kernelInfoInfo about the kernel: system name, node name, release, version and machine.
carrierPlmnPLMN of the device
deviceIDCurrent device ID
reasonCodeReason code of the occured event
buildDateAppdome fusion date of the current application
devicePlatformOS name of the current device
carrierNameCarrier name of the current device
updatedOSVersionIs the OS version up to date
deviceBrandBrand of the device
deviceBoardBoard of the device
buildUserBuild user
buildHostBuild host
sdkVersionSdk version
timeZoneTime zone
deviceFaceDownIs the device face down
locationLongLocation long
locationLatLocation lat
locationStateLocation state
wifiSsidWifi SSID
wifiSsidPermissionStatusWifi SSID permission status
reasonReason for the detection
dataData related to the detection

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

The following is a code sample for native Mobile apps, which uses all values in the specification above for Prevent Code Injection:

Prerequisites to Using Prevent Code Injection:

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

Using Appdome, there are no development or coding prerequisites to build secured Apps by using Prevent Code Injection. 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 Code Injection

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 Code Injection

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!

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