How To Detect Malware Controls in Android Apps

Last updated August 25, 2022 by Appdome

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

What is Malware?

Mobile malware is malicious software designed to harm a mobile application or to exploit mobile users.

Malware often involves the abuse of legitimate functionality to gain additional capabilities, escalate privileges, and establish backdoors. In some cases these excess capabilities are obtained by having the malware trick unsuspecting users enable permissions or granting access to OS features that the malware in turn abuses. Mobile malware may also open random sockets to communicate between malware modules. 

Which Protection does the Detect Malware Controls Feature Provide? ?

Appdome’s Detect Malware Controls feature can detect advanced techniques used by malware to hide its presence or to communicate with Android applications. This feature can identify specific sockets used by malware, as well as detect module binaries that might be suspiciously added to the app (either via injection or by side-loading to the SD card).

Detecting Malware on Android apps by Using Appdome

On Appdome, follow these 3 simple steps to create self-defending Android Apps that Detect Malware 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: Detect Malware Controls.

    1. Building Detect Malware Controls by using Appdome’s DEV-API:

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

        Figure 1: Fusion Set that will contain the Detect Malware Controls 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 Malware Controls feature via Appdome Console, to add the Detect Malware Controls 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 Malware Controls feature via Appdome Console

      To build the Detect Malware Controls 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) Detect Malware Controls, as shown belowMalware, If needed, Customize the Threat Notification to be displayed to the mobile end-user in a standard OS dialog notification when Appdome Detects . Detect Malware Controls option

        Figure 3: Detect Malware 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 Detect Malware Controls 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 Malware Controls

        Fusion Set applied Detect Malware Controls

        Figure 4: Fusion Set that displays the newly added Detect Malware Controls protection

      4. Select the Threat-Event™ in-app mobile Threat Defense and Intelligence policy for Detect Malware Controls:
        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 Malware.

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

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects When detecting random sockets usage, when detecting suspicious Modules 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 Malware Controls Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The specifications and options for Threat-Events™ for Malware are:

Threat-Event™ Elements Detect Malware Method Detail
Appdome Feature Name Detect Malware Controls
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 Detecting Malware Threat-Event™
Threat-Event NAME MalwareRandomSocketDetected;MalwareModuleDerected
Threat-Event DATA reasonData
Threat-Event CODE reasonCode
Threat-Event REF 6921;6922
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 Malware is detected.

The following is a code sample for native Android apps, which uses all values in the specification above for Detect Malware Controls:

Prerequisites to Using Detect Malware Controls:

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

Using Appdome, there are no development or coding prerequisites to build secured Apps by using Detect Malware Controls. 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 Malware Controls

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 Detect Malware Controls

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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