Allow Android AccessibilityService for Approved Apps

Last updated August 25, 2022 by Appdome

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

What is the Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps Feature?

The feature Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps enables adding apps to a whitelist, namely: a list of apps that have been approved to enable and use Android AccessibilityService.

What are Android AccessibilityServices ?

AccessibilityServices are OS settings/features in Android that are designed to help users with disabilities (for example: screen readers, speech to text, touch events). These features run in the background and receive callbacks by the system when accessibility events are fired, making them capable of reacting to a state transition in the UI (for example: focus has changed, content in the active window was queried).

These services also typically run with a higher level of administrative privilege, and for this reason AccessibilityServices are often used for different purposes for which they were not intended and targeted by hackers to exploit. When abused, they are used to perform click actions (either to commit click-fraud or to cheat in mobile games), read and write SMS messages and emails, intercept and read Two-Factor Authentication codes, steal cryptocurrency keys, control mobile devices or apps remotely and more.

Using a whitelist on Android apps by Using Appdome

On Appdome, follow these 3 simple steps to create self-defending Android Apps that Use a whitelist 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: Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps.

    1. Building Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps by using Appdome’s DEV-API:

      1. Create and name the Fusion Set (security template) that will contain the Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps feature as shown below:
      2. fusion set that contains Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps

        Figure 1: Fusion Set that will contain the Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps 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 Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps feature via Appdome Console, to add the Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps 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 Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps feature via Appdome Console

      To build the Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps protection by using Appdome Console, follow the instructions below.

      1. Where: Inside the Appdome Console, go to Build > Anti Fraud Tab > Mobile Malware Prevention section
      2. How: Toggle (turn ON) Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps, as shown belowa whitelist, If needed, Customize the Threat Notification to be displayed to the mobile end-user in a standard OS dialog notification when Appdome Uses . Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps option

        Figure 3: Use a whitelist 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 Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps you'll notice that your Fusion Set you created in step 2.1.1 now bears the icon of the protection category that contains Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps

        Fusion Set applied Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps

        Figure 4: Fusion Set that displays the newly added Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps protection

      4. Select the Threat-Event™ in-app mobile Threat Defense and Intelligence policy for Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps:
        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 Use a whitelist.

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

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects if malicious apps are running on the device with AccessibilityServices permissions enabled 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 Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

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

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects and defends against a whitelist (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 Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

      5. Extra Configuration with Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps:
        1. Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps (optional)

          Click on Add then list the bundle IDs of the apps you want to Allow AccessibilityService for

      6. Click Build My App at the bottom of the Build Workflow (shown in Figure 3).
    Congratulations!  The Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps protection is now added to the mobile app
  3. Certify the Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps feature in Android Apps.

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

Using Threat-Events™ for a whitelist Intelligence and Control in Android Apps

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

The specifications and options for Threat-Events™ for a whitelist are:

Threat-Event™ Elements Use a whitelist Method Detail
Appdome Feature Name Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps
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 Using a whitelist Threat-Event™
Threat-Event NAME AccessibilityServiceDetected
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
blocked was the keyboard blocked (True/False)
buildHost build server of the ROM (for Android devices)
deviceBoard the board upon which the mobile device is based (for Android devices)
carrierPlmn carrier identity number (PLMN code)
defaultMessage the message that would be shown to the user in enforcement mode
deviceBrand brand of the mobile device
deviceID unique mobile installation identifier
deviceManufacturer manufacturer of the mobile device
deviceModel mobile device model
extendedMessageText allows receiving extended metadata about threat events. Available only if the option
fusedAppToken Appdome Built ID App Token
kernelInfo Kernel information and details
Keyboard package ID of the unauthorized keyboard to which the user tried to switch
osVersion The mobile device OS version
sdkversion Android SDK Version
timestamp UNIX timestamp when event happened
OS Platform(s) Method Android (registerReceiver)

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 a whitelist is detected.

The following is a code sample for native Android apps, which uses all values in the specification above for Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps:

Prerequisites to Using Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps:

To use Appdome’s mobile app security build system to Use a whitelist , you’ll need:

Using Appdome, there are no development or coding prerequisites to build secured Apps by using Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps. 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 Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps

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 Allow Accessibility with Specified Apps

Here are a few related resources:

How to Prevent abuse of AccessibilityService

How to Block Overlay Attacks on Android Apps

How to Prevent Malicious Misuse of Android Debug Bridge (ADB)

Check out the Appdome Mobile Fraud Prevention solution page.

Check out Mobile Fraud Prevention or request a demo at any time.

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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