How to Protect Info.plist in iOS apps

Last updated May 6, 2024 by Appdome

Learn to Prevent Plist modification in iOS apps, in mobile CI/CD with a Data-Driven DevSecOps™ build system.

What is Plist modification?

Appdome enables developers to protect sensitive information in plists (including info.plist) using plist encryption. This encrypts the information stored in any property lists (including info.plist) of any iOS app without any code or coding required. This will protect any data and keys stored inside the plist from being accessed or altered by any unauthorized entity. And by doing so, this will help developers comply with Apple’s privacy requirements without alot of extra work.

Why Prevent Plist modification in iOS Apps?

In iOS apps, a plist (aka ‘property list’) is a structured text file that contains metadata about the app which are essential for the app to run. Plists are collections of key-value pairs (such as a dictionary list) that specify how the system should interpret the associated bundle. Some key-value pairs characterize the bundle itself, while others configure the app, framework, or other entity that the bundle represents. Some keys are required, while others are specific to particular features of the executable.

iOS apps can have multiple plists for specific functions, and the details of what to include in the property list vary by executable type and by platform. However, all iOS apps must have the at least one plist (info.plist is the default property list supplied by Xcode when you create a project)

Prerequisites for Using Protect Info.plist:

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

Prevent Plist modification on iOS apps using Appdome

On Appdome, follow these 3 simple steps to create self-defending iOS Apps that Prevent Plist modification 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. iOS Formats: .ipa
    4. Protect Info.plist Compatible With: Obj-C, Java, Swift, Flutter, React Native, Unity, Xamarin, Cordova and more
  2. Build the feature: Protect Info.plist.

    1. Building Protect Info.plist by using Appdome’s DEV-API:

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

        Figure 1: Fusion Set that will contain the Protect Info.plist 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 Protect Info.plist feature via Appdome Console, to add the Protect Info.plist 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. Copy 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, Circle 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 Protect Info.plist feature via Appdome Console

      To build the Protect Info.plist protection by using Appdome Console, follow the instructions below.

      1. Where: Inside the Appdome Console, go to Build > Anti Fraud Tab > Mobile Fraud Detection section.
      2. When you select the Protect Info.plist you'll notice that your Fusion Set you created in step 2.1.1 now bears the icon of the protection category that contains Protect Info.plist

        Fusion Set applied Protect Info.plist

        Figure 4: Fusion Set that displays the newly added Protect Info.plist protection

      3. Extra Configuration with Protect Info.plist:
        1. Encrypt specific keys within the Info.plist files

          Add keys to encrypt

        2. Additional Information About Plist Encryption

          Every app and plug-in uses info.plist to store data so the system can easily access it. The following key types cannot be encrypted because they need to be accessible to both the OS and the application: Launch Services keys (LS prefix), Core Foundation Keys (CF prefix), Cocoa Keys (NS prefix), iOS Keys (UI prefix), DT Xocde keys (DT prefix), When you submit the secured app to Apple’s App Store, the above keys should be left unencrypted either because they are core foundation keys, define the target platform for the app (iOS, watchOS, etc.), used to configure the appearance of your app at launch and runtime or are added by Apple via Xcode.

        3. Switch to Raw Keys & Values

          Before selecting the key, you must switch to Raw Keys & Values. When using Xcode, right-click on any command and select Raw Keys & Values from the menu.

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

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

Using Threat-Events™ for Plist modification Intelligence and Control in iOS Apps

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

The specifications and options for Threat-Events™ for Plist modification are:

Threat-Event™ Elements Prevent Plist modification Method Detail
Appdome Feature Name Protect Info.plist
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 x
Visible in ThreatScope™ x
Developer Parameters for Preventing Plist modification Threat-Event™
Threat-Event NAME
Threat-Event DATA reasonData
Threat-Event CODE reasonCode
Threat-Event REF
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
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), iOS developers can get detailed attack intelligence and granular defense control in iOS applications and create amazing user experiences for all mobile end users when Plist modification is detected.

The following is a code sample for native iOS apps, which uses all values in the specification above for Protect Info.plist:

Using Appdome, there are no development or coding prerequisites to build secured iOS Apps by using Protect Info.plist. 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 Protect Info.plist

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:

Check out Appdome’s Mobile Fraud Detection or request a demo at any time.

If you have any questions, please send them our way at 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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