How to Block Mobile Bots Using Session & Header Secrets

Last updated September 4, 2022 by Appdome

Learn to Block queries from automated bots in Mobile apps, in mobile CI/CD with a Data-Driven DevSecOps™ build system.

What is Shared Secret?

Shared Secret is a cryptographic key or data that is only known to the parties involved in a secured communication. Using a Shared Secret helps developers to verify that requests are coming from a valid mobile app, rather than a Bot/Botnet. Blocking queries from Bot/Botnets is significant because such queries are usually made for malicious purposes, such as obtaining knowledge by sending many queries at once from allegedly private IP addresses or performing a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.

How do Developers Implement Shared Secret by Using Appdome ?

Shared Secret is created by specifying a “word” – namely, a unique string or passcode that proves the app’s authenticity to the server – to use for the communication between the app and the server.

Using the Shared Secret feature allows you to specify the word to be used as a shared secret. That word will be embedded in the app and applied to every request going out from the mobile app, thus indicating that the request is authentic and comes from a valid app. Then the WAF can filter the traffic to verify the existence of the shared secret in the request header, and block all requests that do not include the  shared secret.

 

Blocking queries from automated bots on Mobile apps by Using Appdome

On Appdome, follow these 3 simple steps to create self-defending Mobile Apps that Block queries from automated bots 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: Shared Secret.

    1. Building Shared Secret by using Appdome’s DEV-API:

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

        Figure 1: Fusion Set that will contain the Shared Secret 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 Shared Secret feature via Appdome Console, to add the Shared Secret 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 Shared Secret feature via Appdome Console

      To build the Shared Secret protection by using Appdome Console, follow the instructions below.

      1. Where: Inside the Appdome Console, go to Build > Security Tab > Secure Communication section
      2. How: Toggle (turn ON) Shared Secret, as shown belowqueries from automated bots, If needed, Customize the Threat Notification to be displayed to the mobile end-user in a standard OS dialog notification when Appdome Blocks . Shared Secret option

        Figure 3: Block queries from automated bots 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 Shared Secret you'll notice that your Fusion Set you created in step 2.1.1 now bears the icon of the protection category that contains Shared Secret

        Fusion Set applied Shared Secret

        Figure 4: Fusion Set that displays the newly added Shared Secret protection

      4. Extra Configuration with Shared Secret:
        1. Http Signing Host List

          File containing a list of domains to include the Secure Signature header (wildcards are acceptable).

        2. Secret Text

          Unique text that comprises your secret.

        3. Signature Header

          Optionally specify a name for the signature header (for example: X-MYCOMPANY-SIGNATUREi).

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

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

Prerequisites to Using Shared Secret:

To use Appdome’s mobile app security build system to Block queries from automated bots , you’ll need:

Using Appdome, there are no development or coding prerequisites to build secured Apps by using Shared Secret. 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 Shared Secret

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 Shared Secret

Here are a few related resources:

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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