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App Security Insights

Easy Android Binary Protection Methods

Jan 4, 2017 8:53:11 AM / by Sung Cho

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The fact that so much these days centers on technology is both a gift and a curse. While modern comforts like the internet and smartphones make life far easier and more convenient than ever before, they also open up a whole new arena of threats that need to be accounted for, especially when it comes to the ever-popular world of mobile apps.

In the case of Android -- one of the most popular operating systems currently in use -- binary protection is a step that, when overlooked, could create an incredibly dangerous vulnerable spot for any mobile app and must be vigilantly guarded against. Because awareness is key to the importance of Android binary protection, let’s delve into this topic in a bit more depth.

What Is Android Binary Protection?

Binary code is the lifeblood of your mobile application, and as such, it needs to be fiercely protected. Leaving it open to attack by hackers can jeopardize the integrity of your app, leaving sensitive user data readily available and your app completely in the hands of some less-than-savory characters looking to exploit your app for their own purposes. Oftentimes, hackers will approach vulnerable binary files by reverse-engineering it and manipulating them as they want by employing sophisticated malware to perform their own modifications.

When this happens, it can be impossible to identify the cause of any wrongdoing or even the fact that anything was ever accessed and tampered with in the first place. Thankfully, app developers don’t have to sit idly by while hackers denigrate the sanctity of your mobile app projects. Android binary protection comprises any and all actions and precautions put in place to prevent tampering with your mobile app and guard against long-term consequences of a leak.

What You Can Do

While a number of strategies could be put to use to protect binary code from a cyber-attack, there are, of course, a few exceedingly basic rules of thumb you can refer to as you begin a more thorough evaluation of any vulnerabilities that may exist in your own mobile apps. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Ensure that your app’s overriding algorithm is powerful enough to manage an attempted root detection, and keep a close eye on other controls, such as debugger detection, certificate pinning, and checksum, as these may be your first line of defense in the case of an attack.
  • Prepare your app algorithm for the possibility that an attacker may try to reverse engineer your coding and prevent unauthorized code modification with a strategy and procedure in place that is designed to function at runtime, since this will make it more difficult for an attack to succeed and will discourage attempts to break into your app
  • Only allow trusted access to your app and be sure to secure all environments in which it runs, as this will prevent unauthorized users from wreaking havoc on your coding and coming anywhere near the sensitive data you need to run your app as well as that of your users

Guard Against Attack

With access to an app’s binary code, a hacker has free rein to make changes and re-distribute their own version of your app online, snaring sensitive user data through the clandestine use of backdoor coding. Moreover, they can crack the application and distribute it on the internet for free, robbing your company of the benefits it should be reaping for your hard work.

Of course, this is all under the assumption that the hacker in question doesn’t simply tease out the inherent weaknesses for some other long-term malicious end. If we haven’t yet stressed it enough, the imperative nature of Android binary protection cannot be over-emphasized.

Without it, your mobile app -- whether paid or free -- is at immense risk of exposure, placing your very livelihood on the line. Don’t waste another minute without taking the simple steps necessary to protect your future.

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Topics: Android, Binary Code, Mobile Security

Sung Cho

Written by Sung Cho

VP, Growth & Strategy