How to Protect Android & iOS Apps Against Fake GPS Apps

Last updated February 18, 2024 by Appdome

Learn to Detect Fake GPS App in Mobile apps, in mobile CI/CD with a Data-Driven DevSecOps™ build system.

What are Fake GPS Apps?

Fake GPS apps are applications that manipulate the location data of a mobile device to provide false GPS coordinates, thereby overriding the authentic location data reported by the device’s operating system’s GPS sensors. Attackers typically download these apps alongside the genuine app they wish to deceive. The fake GPS app then interacts with the genuine app, tricking it into accepting the false location data as if it were coming directly from the device’s operating system. This capability enables a range of harmful activities, including location spoofing, bypassing licensing restrictions, circumventing geo-fencing, and introducing significant security and privacy concerns for both users and app developers. The usage of fake GPS apps can have substantial implications for the integrity and functionality of various mobile applications, especially in sectors like gaming, social media, navigation, and location-based services.

Why is Detecting Fake GPS Inside Mobile Apps Important?

Many mobile apps leverage location signals from a user’s mobile device to determine a user’s whereabouts and provide a better service. For starters, it upholds the credibility of location-based data, ensuring that applications deliver accurate and reliable results. This functionality may be disrupted by Fake GPS, leading to inaccurate results, poor user experiences, and potential vulnerabilities. In this context, detecting fake GPS in gaming apps prevents unfair advantages, maintains fair competition among players, and preserves the integrity of the gaming experience. It addresses security concerns across different app types, as malicious use of fake GPS can compromise not only user privacy but also the safety of users in various scenarios, such as location-based social networks or geocaching apps. Overall, the capability to detect fake GPS within Android and iOS apps is crucial for both industry regulations and maintaining user trust by ensuring that the app functions as intended, which is particularly vital for navigation and mapping applications.

Appdome’s Solution to Detect Fake GPS Apps

Appdome’s Detect Fake GPS App protection offers an efficient way for mobile brands to combat the usage of fake GPS apps. This solution detects when a third-party fake GPS app is running in conjunction with the authentic app. Upon detection, it can shut down the authentic app to prevent the falsification of location information. This advanced feature enables mobile product managers to maintain the integrity of location-based services, ensuring the security and fairness of their applications and safeguarding both the app’s functionality and the user’s security and privacy.

Prerequisites for Using Detect Fake GPS App:

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

    Detect Fake GPS App on Mobile apps using Appdome

    On Appdome, follow these 3 simple steps to create self-defending Mobile Apps that Detect Fake GPS App 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, or .apk or .aab for Android
      4. Detect Fake GPS App Compatible With: Obj-C, C+, Java, JS, C#, C++, Swift, Kotlin, Flutter, React Native, Unity, Xamarin, and more
    2. Build the feature: Detect Fake GPS App.

      1. Building Detect Fake GPS App by using Appdome’s DEV-API:

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

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

        To build the Detect Fake GPS App 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 select the Detect Fake GPS App 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 Fake GPS App

          Fusion Set applied Detect Fake GPS App

          Figure 4: Fusion Set that displays the newly added Detect Fake GPS App protection

        3. Select the Threat-Event™ in-app mobile Threat Defense and Intelligence policy for Detect Fake GPS App:
          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 Fake GPS App.

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

            When this setting is used, Appdome detects attempts at faking the app GPS location 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 Fake GPS App Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

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

            When this setting is used, Appdome detects and defends against Fake GPS App (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 Fake GPS App 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 Fake GPS App protection is now added to the mobile app

    Using Threat-Events™ for Fake GPS App Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps

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

    The specifications and options for Threat-Events™ for Fake GPS App are:

    Threat-Event™ Elements Detect Fake GPS App Method Detail
    Appdome Feature Name Detect Fake GPS App
    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 Fake GPS App Threat-Event™
    Threat-Event NAME GeoLocationMockByAppDetected
    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), 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 Fake GPS App is detected.

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


    Using Appdome, there are no development or coding prerequisites to build secured Mobile Apps by using Detect Fake GPS App. 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 Fake GPS App

    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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