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How to Block Frida Instrumentation Exploits in Android & iOS apps

Last updated August 11, 2022 by Appdome

Learn to Block Frida in Mobile Apps, in mobile CI/CD with a Data-Driven DevSecOps™ build system.

What is Frida?

Frida is a dynamic instrumentation / binary instrumentation toolkit intended for developers, pen-testers, and security researchers. Frida has official builds, made by the Frida.re website, while a custom Frida toolkit is a non-official Frida typically used by malicious actors to compromise mobile apps, inject malicious code, and/or change a mobile app’s logic or behavior in unintended and malicious ways such as creating an update to existing malware, disabling SSL/TLS Pinning, and intercepting the network traffic by using a middleman proxy.

In addition, a Custom Frida can be used to reverse engineer the way apps work, as well as for obtaining knowledge on an undocumented API that is used in an app.

How does Appdome Protect Against Frida Instrumentation Exploits ?

Appdome’s Block Frida feature applies several methods for detecting the use of Frida Toolkit and overcoming Android Rooter tools such as Magisk. Cybercriminals usually use Frida Toolkit in order to bypass rooting detection mechanisms or to turn off anti-tampering protections that have been hardcoded into the source code. Such methods include the detection of loading Frida via dynamically injected code in the target application’s memory space, as well as the detection of custom Frida toolkits.

Blocking Frida on Mobile apps by Using Appdome

On Appdome, follow these 3 simple steps to create self-defending Mobile Apps that Block Frida 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: Block Frida.

    1. Building Block Frida by using Appdome’s DEV-API:

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

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

      To build the Block Frida 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) Block Frida, as shown below, If needed, customize the Threat Notification to be displayed to the mobile end-user in a standard OS dialog notification when Appdome Blocks Frida. Block Frida option

        Figure 3: Block Frida 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 Block Frida you'll notice that your Fusion Set you created in step 2.1.1 now bears the icon of the protection category that contains Block Frida

        Fusion Set applied Block Frida

        Figure 4: Fusion Set that displays the newly added Block Frida protection

      4. Select the Threat-Event™ in-app mobile Threat Defense and Intelligence policy for Block Frida:
        1. Threat-Events™ OFF > Appdome Enforce

          If the Threat-Events™ setting is cleared (not selected). Appdome will detect and defend the user and app by enforcing Block Frida.

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

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects When Frida toolkit is detected, when Frida custom toolkit is detected 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 Block Frida Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

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

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

      5. Click Build My App at the bottom of the Build Workflow (shown in Figure 2).
    Congratulations!  The Block Frida protection is now added to the mobile app
  3. Certify the Block Frida feature in Mobile Apps.

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

Using Threat-Events™ for Frida Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps

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

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

Threat-Event™ Elements Block Frida Method Detail
Appdome Feature Name Block Frida
Threat-Event Mode
OFF, APPDOME ENFORCE 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 Blocking Frida Threat-Event™
Threat-Event NAME FridaDetected, FridaCustomDetected
Threat-Event DATA reasonData
Threat-Event CODE reasonCode
Threat-Event REF 6905
Threat-Event SCORE
currentThreatEventScore Current Threat-Event score
threatEventsScore Total Threat-events score
Threat-Event Context Keys
blocked was the keyboard blocked (True/False)
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 Mobile SDK Version
timestamp UNIX timestamp when event happened
OS Platform(s) Method Mobile (registerReceiver)

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 Frida is detected.

The following is a code sample for native Mobile apps, which uses all values in the specification above for Block Frida:

Prerequisites to Using Block Frida:

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

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

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 Block Frida

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.