Securing your mobile app

This guide does not address all mobile security topics. See the OWASP Mobile Security Project for an introduction to mobile security. AeroGear helps you achieve security:

Using the Mobile Security Service

Prerequisites

Setting Up the Mobile Security Service

Provisioning the Mobile Security Service

This section describes how to set up the Mobile Security Service.

Prerequisites
  • You have logged into the OpenShift console and the Mobile Developer Console.

Procedure
  1. Log into the OpenShift console.

  2. Create a new project or choose an existing project.

  3. Click Add to Project and choose Browse Catalog from the options.

    You can filter the catalog items to only show mobile specific items by clicking the Mobile tab.

  4. Click Services and choose the Mobile Security service.

    catalog mobile services
  5. Follow the wizard for provisioning that service.

    If prompted to Create a Binding, choose Do not bind at this time

    Once the wizard steps are completed, navigate to the Project Overview in OpenShift to see the newly provisioned service. Provisioning a service may take some time.

Binding a Mobile App with the Mobile Security Service

To use mobile services, you must represent your mobile app in Mobile Developer Console, and that app must be associated with the mobile service. This association is called binding and it is necessary for your mobile app to use that service.

This section describes how to set up the Mobile Security service.

Prerequisites
  • You have created a Mobile App.

Procedure

To bind a Mobile App with a mobile service:

  1. Launch Mobile Developer Console.

  2. Click on the Mobile App on the Overview screen.

  3. Navigate to Mobile Services tab.

    mobile clients services all unbound
    It is possible to bind a Mobile App with a mobile service in the OpenShift console, however such bindings are not valid for the purposes of this procedure.
  4. Click Bind to App for Mobile Security.

  5. Fill out the binding parameters required by the Mobile Security Service.

The Mobile Security service will now be expandable, details about the service can be viewed.

Configuring the Mobile Security Service

Prerequisites
Procedure
  1. Log into the Mobile Developer Console and navigate to the Mobile App screen.

  2. Select the Mobile Services tab.

  3. If a binding to the Mobile Securityservice is in progress, a spinning icon is displayed to the right of the Mobile Securityentry. Wait for the binding process to complete.

  4. Save your changes.

Configuring your Development Environment for the Mobile Security Service

Downloading the Mobile Services Configuration File
  1. Open your Mobile App in Mobile Developer Console.

  2. Copy the mobile-services.json configuration to your clipboard.

  3. Save the contents of the clipboard to a new file called mobile-services.json.

    The mobile-services.json file is the link between your provisioned services on OpenShift and the mobile app you are developing. This file provides all required configuration to initialise the various SDKs and get them hooked up/connected to the back-end services.
  4. Follow the platform-specific instructions:

  • Cordova

Move mobile-services.json to the following location in your application project:

src/mobile-services.json

Setting up Mobile Security service SDK
Importing the libraries
  • Cordova

  1. Install the AeroGear Security package from NPM:

    $ npm install @aerogear/security --save
  2. Add the AeroGear Security plugin for Cordova:

    $ cordova plugin add @aerogear/cordova-plugin-aerogear-security
  3. Import and instantiate SecurityService to start using the SDK:

    const SecurityService = require("@aerogear/security");
    
    const appSecurity = new SecurityService.AppSecurity(app.config);
    Any new instantiation of SecurityService returns the same instance.

Implementing the Mobile Security service in your mobile app

Call the appSecurity clientInit function to implement the App Security Service. Call this service on application initialization, for example:

appSecurity.clientInit()
.then(clientInit => {
  /**
    You can use clientInit.data.disabled boolean
    to check if app has been disabled by admin.

    The disabled message is returned if the app is
    disabled at clientInit.data.disabledMessage
    This contains a string with a disabled message
    from the server set by the admin.
  */
}).catch(err  => {
  /**
    You can handle errors connecting to the
    mobile security service here. i.e. if the
    client is offline that error will be caught
    here and you can return a response at this
    point
    */
});

Managing mobile apps using the Mobile Security Console

To access the Mobile Security Console:

  1. Retrieve the console URL from the list of available services in the Mobile Developer Console (MDC).

  2. Open the URL in a browser.

The console is only available after the Mobile Security Service has been provisioned.

Overview of the Mobile Security Console

The Mobile Security Console allows you to monitor applications, their respective versions, and disable versions of those applications.

Opening the console lists all applications. Click on an application to view version details for that application.

Below is a detailed description of each of these views and the information you can expect each to contain.

Application details view

This view provides statistics and information about each deployed version of an application:

  • App Version: The version of the application.

  • Current Installs: Total number of current installed versions of this version of the application.

  • Launches: Total number of launches of this version of the application.

  • Last launched: The last time this application version was launched.

  • Disable on Startup: Whether this application version is disabled on startup.

  • Custom Disable Message: A custom message that is displayed when this version of the mobile app is disabled.

Enabling and disabling mobile app versions

To enable/disable one or more versions of the application:

  1. Toggle the checkbox for that version in the Disable on Startup column.

  2. Confirm these changes by clicking the Save button to persist these changes.

Navigating away from this screen with unsaved changes prompts you to save or discard these changes.

To disable all versions of an application:

  • Click the Disable App button.

Adding or updating a custom disabled message

To add or update a custom message for the version(s) of an application:

  1. Enter the message in the text field for that version under the Custom Disable Message column.

  2. Confirm these changes by clicking the Save button to persist these changes.

Navigating away from this screen with unsaved changes prompts you to save or discard these changes.

Implementing Device Checks in your mobile app

The Device Security service allows you to easily configure and manage device security, and trust checks for your mobile application.

  • Perform a range of device trust checks on the mobile device, such as checking if the device is rooted, and allows you take proactive action based on the results.

  • Distribute SSL certificates with a Mobile App to create a direct chain of trust (certificate pinning).

Device Security is not currently associated with an OpenShift service, so there are no provisioning or binding tasks associated with using Device Security.
Prerequisites
  • You understand Device Checks.

  • You have logged into the OpenShift console and the Mobile Developer Console.

  • You are developing an Ionic app, plain Cordova is not supported.

Device Checks Terminology

This section describes terminology that is associated with Device Checks.

Root Access Detection (ROOT_ENABLED)

Use it to help prevent your app running in a device that has been rooted/jailbroken. A device is considered rooted if any of the following are true:

  • A custom key has been used to sign the kernel

  • The su binaries are present

  • Android

  • iOS

  • Cordova

  • Xamarin

DeviceChecks.ROOT_ENABLED.

This function uses the Rootbeer library to check if root access is present on the device.

This check is not available for iOS.

This check is not available for Cordova.

This check is not available for Xamarin.

Developer Mode Detection (DEVELOPER_MODE_ENABLED)

To detect if Developer Mode has been enabled on the device the DeviceCheckType#DEVELOPER_MODE_ENABLED function can be used. This function uses Android’s Settings class.

Debugger Detection (DEBUGGER_ENABLED)

To detect if an Android debugger is attached to the app the DeviceCheckType#DEBUGGER_ENABLED function can be used. This function uses Android’s Debug class.

Emulator Detection (IS_EMULATOR)

To detect if the app is being run on an emulator the DeviceCheckType#IS_EMULATOR function can be used. This function uses Android’s Build class.

Device Lock Detection (SCREEN_LOCK_ENABLED)

To detect if a device has a lock screen set (with pin, fingerprint, pattern) the DeviceCheckType#SCREEN_LOCK_ENABLED function can be used. This function uses Android’s KeyguardManager class.

App Data Backup Detection (BACKUP_ENABLED)

To detect whether the application’s data is configured to be synchronized across devices the DeviceCheckType#BACKUP_ENABLED function can be used. The allowBackup flag determines whether to allow the application to participate in the backup and restore infrastructure, which might be interesting to avoid depending on your app’s needs.

Device Encryption Detection (ENCRYPTION_ENABLED)

To detect whether the devices' filesystem is encrypted the DeviceCheckType#ENCRYPTION_ENABLED function can be used. This function uses Android’s DevicePolicyManager class.

Configuring your Development Environment for the Device Checks Service

Downloading the Configuration File

The mobile-services.json file provides the information for your mobile app to communicate with services. After you change any configuration in the Mobile Developer Console, it is important to update that file in your IDE.

Prerequisites
  • The configuration of your Mobile App in Mobile Developer Console is up-to-date.

  • You have set up your mobile app development environment.

Procedure
  1. Open your Mobile App in Mobile Developer Console.

  2. Copy the mobile-services.json configuration to your clipboard.

  3. Save the contents of the clipboard to a new file called mobile-services.json.

    The mobile-services.json file is the link between your provisioned services on OpenShift and the mobile app you are developing. This file provides all required configuration to initialise the various SDKs and get them hooked up/connected to the back-end services.
  4. Move mobile-services.json to the following location in your application project:

    • Android

    • iOS

    • Cordova

    • Xamarin

    app/src/main/assets/mobile-services.json

    <app directory>/mobile-services.json

    Ensure that mobile-services.json is a member of the project in the Xcode Project Navigator.

    src/mobile-services.json

    Resources/mobile-services.json

Setting up Device Checks service SDK

This guide will help you to set up the Device Checks service SDK in your App.

Importing the libraries
  • Android

  • iOS

  • Cordova

  • Xamarin

  1. Add the following dependency in your app’s build.gradle:

    dependencies {
        implementation 'org.aerogear:android-security:2.0.0'
    }
  2. Get an instance of SecurityService to start using the SDK.

    SecurityService securityService = new SecurityService();
    It is user responsibility to manage the SecurityService lifecycle.
  1. Add the dependency to your Podfile

    target '[TARGET NAME]' do
        pod 'AGSSecurity', '2.0.0'
    end
  2. Update the dependencies by running in your terminal

    $ pod install
  3. Import AGSSecurity and instantiate the SecurityService to start using the SDK

    import AGSSecurity
    
    let security = AGSSecurity()
    Any subsequent call to AGSSecurity returns the same instance of the SecurityService.
  1. Install the AeroGear Security package from NPM

    $ npm install @aerogear/security
  2. Add the AeroGear Security plugin for Cordova:

    $ cordova plugin add @aerogear/cordova-plugin-aerogear-security
  3. Import and instantiate SecurityService to start using the SDK:

    const SecurityService = require("@aerogear/security");
    
    const securityService = new SecurityService(app.metrics);
    Any new instantiation of SecurityService returns the same instance.
  1. Install NuGet

  2. Install the AeroGear Security package

    $ dotnet add package AeroGear.Mobile.Security --version 2.0.1
  3. Install the specific packages for Android:

    $ dotnet add package AeroGear.Mobile.Security.Platform.Android --version 2.0.1

    And for iOS:

    $ dotnet add package AeroGear.Mobile.Security.Platform.iOS --version 2.0.1
  4. Initialize the SDK by adding the following line to your Android application’s MainActivity.cs:

    protected override void OnCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState)
    {
        base.OnCreate(savedInstanceState);
    
        SecurityService.InitializeService();
        // ...
    }

    And to your iOS application’s AppDelegate.cs:

    public override bool FinishedLaunching(UIApplication app, NSDictionary options)
    {
        SecurityService.InitializeService();
        // ...
    }
  5. Get an instance of SecurityService to start using the SDK:

    var securityService = MobileCore.GetService<SecurityService>();
    Any subsequent call to MobileCore#getInstance returns the same instance of SecurityService.

Performing Device Trust Checks in your Device

This section describes what Device Trust Checks are available and how to execute them for the supported platforms. Also note that Device Checks can be performed either individually or together.

Root Access Detection

Use this to help prevent your app running in a device that has been rooted/jailbroken.

  • Android

  • iOS

  • Cordova

  • Xamarin

SecurityService securityService = new SecurityService();

DeviceCheckResult result = securityService.check(DeviceCheckType.ROOT_ENABLED);
let security = AGSSecurity()
let result = security.check(JailbrokenDeviceCheck())
new SecurityService(app.metrics)
    .check(DeviceCheckType.rootEnabled)
    .then(result => {
        // Handle the security result metric
        // result: { id: string, name: string, passed: boolean }
    });

Use ROOT_ENABLED for Android:

var securityService = MobileCore.GetService<SecurityService>();

DeviceCheckResult result = securityService.Check(DeviceChecks.ROOT_ENABLED);

Use JAILBREAK_ENABLED for iOS:

var securityService = MobileCore.GetService<SecurityService>();

DeviceCheckResult result = securityService.Check(DeviceChecks.JAILBREAK_ENABLED);

Developer Mode Detection

Use this to detect if Developer Mode has been enabled on the device.

  • Android

  • iOS

  • Cordova

  • Xamarin

SecurityService securityService = new SecurityService();

DeviceCheckResult result = securityService.check(DeviceCheckType.DEVELOPER_MODE_ENABLED);

This check is not available for iOS.

This check is not available for Cordova.

This check is available for Android only.
var securityService = MobileCore.GetService<SecurityService>();

DeviceCheckResult result = securityService.Check(DeviceChecks.DEVELOPER_MODE_ENABLED);

Debugger Detection

Use this to detect if a debugger is attached to the app.

  • Android

  • iOS

  • Cordova

  • Xamarin

SecurityService securityService = new SecurityService();

DeviceCheckResult result = securityService.check(DeviceCheckType.DEBUGGER_ENABLED);
let security = AGSSecurity()
let result = security.check(DebuggerAttachedCheck())
new SecurityService(app.metrics)
    .check(DeviceCheckType.debugModeEnabled)
    .then(result => {
        // Handle the security result metric
        // result: { id: string, name: string, passed: boolean }
    });

Use DEBUGGER_ENABLED for Android:

var securityService = MobileCore.GetService<SecurityService>();

DeviceCheckResult result = securityService.Check(DeviceChecks.DEBUGGER_ENABLED);

Use DEBUGGER_ATTACHED for iOS:

var securityService = MobileCore.GetService<SecurityService>();

DeviceCheckResult result = securityService.Check(DeviceChecks.DEBUGGER_ATTACHED);

Emulator Detection

Use this to detect if the app is being run on an emulator.

  • Android

  • iOS

  • Cordova

  • Xamarin

SecurityService securityService = new SecurityService();

DeviceCheckResult result = securityService.check(DeviceCheckType.IS_EMULATOR);
let security = AGSSecurity()
let result = security.check(IsEmulatorCheck())
new SecurityService(app.metrics)
    .check(DeviceCheckType.isEmulator)
    .then(result => {
        // Handle the security result metric
        // result: { id: string, name: string, passed: boolean }
    });
var securityService = MobileCore.GetService<SecurityService>();

DeviceCheckResult result = securityService.Check(DeviceChecks.IS_EMULATOR);

Device Lock Detection

Use this to detect if a device has a lock screen set (with pin, fingerprint, pattern…​).

  • Android

  • iOS

  • Cordova

  • Xamarin

SecurityService securityService = new SecurityService();

DeviceCheckResult result = securityService.check(DeviceCheckType.SCREEN_LOCK_ENABLED);
let security = AGSSecurity()
let result = security.check(DeviceLockEnabledCheck())
For iOS devices this check requires iOS 8 or above.
new SecurityService(app.metrics)
    .check(DeviceCheckType.screenLockEnabled)
    .then(result => {
        // Handle the security result metric
        // result: { id: string, name: string, passed: boolean }
    });
var securityService = MobileCore.GetService<SecurityService>();

DeviceCheckResult result = securityService.Check(DeviceChecks.SCREEN_LOCK_ENABLED);

App Data Backup Detection

Use this to detect whether the application’s data is configured to be synchronized across devices.

  • Android

  • iOS

  • Cordova

  • Xamarin

SecurityService securityService = new SecurityService();

DeviceCheckResult result = securityService.check(DeviceCheckType.BACKUP_ENABLED);

This check is not available for iOS.

This is not available for Cordova.

This check is available for Android only.
var securityService = MobileCore.GetService<SecurityService>();

DeviceCheckResult result = securityService.Check(DeviceChecks.BACKUP_ENABLED);

Device Encryption Detection

Use this to detect whether a devices filesystem is encrypted.

  • Android

  • iOS

  • Cordova

  • Xamarin

SecurityService securityService = new SecurityService();

DeviceCheckResult result = securityService.check(DeviceCheckType.ENCRYPTION_ENABLED);

This check is not available for iOS.

This is not available for Cordova.

This check is available for Android only.
var securityService = MobileCore.GetService<SecurityService>();

DeviceCheckResult result = securityService.Check(DeviceChecks.ENCRYPTION_ENABLED);

Invoking Multiple Device Checks

Device Checks can be run in group, both synchronously and asynchronously.

Synchronously
  • Android

  • iOS

  • Cordova

  • Xamarin

  1. Get a SyncCheckExecutor from SecurityService:

    SecurityService securityService = new SecurityService();
    SyncDeviceCheckExecutor syncCheckExecutor = securityService.getCheckExecutor();
  2. Add your checks and execute synchronously:

    Map<String, DeviceCheckResult> results = syncCheckExecutor
        .addCheck(DeviceCheckType.<check_type>)
        // Add more checks here
        .execute();

Invoke multiple checks using the checkMany function:

let checks = [DeviceLockEnabledCheck(), IsEmulatorCheck(), /** Add more checks here */ ]
let results = security.checkMany(checks)
DeviceCheckResult objects in the returning array stay in the same order they were provided.

Executing multiple checks synchronously is not directly supported. Instead, it’s possible to use the await operator.

const results = await securityService.checkMany(
    DeviceCheckType.rootEnabled,
    DeviceCheckType.isEmulator,
    // Add more checks here
);
DeviceCheckResult objects in the returning array stay in the same order they were provided.
  1. Build a SyncDeviceCheckExecutor from SecurityService and execute:

    var securityService = MobileCore.GetService<SecurityService>();
    
    var checkExecutor = securityService.GetSyncExecutor()
                            .WithDeviceCheck(DeviceChecks.ROOT_ENABLED)
                            .WithDeviceCheck(DeviceChecks.DEVELOPER_MODE_ENABLED)
                            // Add more checks here
                            .Build()
    Dictionary<string, DeviceCheckResult> results = checkExecutor.Execute();
Asynchronously
  • Android

  • iOS

  • Cordova

  • Xamarin

  1. Get an AsyncCheckExecutor from SecurityService:

    SecurityService securityService = new SecurityService();
    AsyncDeviceCheckExecutor asyncCheckExecutor = securityService.getAsyncCheckExecutor();
  2. Add your checks and execute synchronously:

    Map<String, Future<DeviceCheckResult>> results = asyncCheckExecutor
        .addCheck(DeviceCheckType.<check_type>)
        // Add more checks here
        .execute();

Executing multiple checks asynchronously is not supported at the moment for this platform.

Invoke multiple checks using the checkMany method:

const checkResults = securityService.checkMany(
    DeviceCheckType.rootEnabled,
    DevoceCheckType.isEmulator,
    // Add more checks here
)
.then(results => {
    // Handle results
});
This method returns a Promise with an array containing all DeviceCheckResult objects in the same order they were provided.

Executing multiple checks asynchronously is not supported at the moment for this platform.

Additional Resources

Adding Custom Device Checks

It is possible to make use of your own custom checks. Follow the next steps depending on your platform to implement them:

  • Android

  • iOS

  • Cordova

  • Xamarin

  1. Extend the AbstractDeviceCheck interface:

    class CustomDeviceCheck extends AbstractDeviceCheck {
    
        @Override
        protected boolean execute(@NonNull final Context context) {
            // Implement security check logic here
            return false;
        }
    
    }
  2. Instantiate it to execute it, using the instance of SecurityService:

    SecurityService securityService = new SecurityService();
    
    DeviceCheck customDeviceCheck = new CustomDeviceCheck();
    DeviceCheckResult result = securityService.check(customDeviceCheck);
  1. Implement the DeviceCheck interface:

    public class MyCustomCheck: DeviceCheck {
    
        public let name = "Custom Check"
    
        public init() {}
    
        public func check() -> DeviceCheckResult {
            // Implement security check logic here
            return nil
        }
    
    }
  2. Use the check function as usual:

    let security = AGSSecurity()
    let result = security.check(MyCustomCheck())
  1. Implement the DeviceCheck interface:

    class CustomDeviceCheck implements DeviceCheck {
    
        get name(): string {
            return "My Custom Check";
        }
    
        public check(): Promise<DeviceCheckResult> {
            // Implement device check logic here
            return null;
        }
    
    }
  2. Instantiate it to execute it, using the instance of SecurityService:

    const securityService = new SecurityService(app.metrics);
    
    securityService.check(new CustomDeviceCheck())
        .then(result => {
            // Handle result
        });
  1. Implement the IDeviceCheck interface:

    class CustomDeviceCheck : IDeviceCheck
    {
        public string GetName()
        {
            return "Custom check";
        }
    
        public string GetId()
        {
            return typeof(CustomDeviceCheck).FullName;
        }
    
        public DeviceCheckResult Check()
        {
            // Implement security check logic here
            return null;
        }
    }
  2. Instantiate it to execute it, using the instance of SecurityService:

    var securityService = MobileCore.GetService<SecurityService>();
    
    DeviceCheckResult result = securityService.Check(new CustomDeviceCheck());
Reporting Device Checks Results Via the Metrics Service

In order to report the results of Device Checks utilize this service in conjunction with the Mobile Metrics service.

  • Android

  • iOS

  • Cordova

  • Xamarin

Report individual checks via the checkAndSendMetric method:

MetricsService metricsService = MobileCore.getInstance(MetricsService.class);
SecurityService securityService = new SecurityService();

DeviceCheckResult result = securityService.checkAndSendMetric(DeviceCheckType.<check_type>, metricsService);

Or alternatively report multiple checks using a CheckExecutor:

MetricsService metricsService = mobileCore.getInstance(MetricsService.class);
Map<String, DeviceCheckResult> results = DeviceCheckExecutor.Builder.newSyncExecutor(this.getContext())
    .withDeviceCheck(DeviceCheckType.<check_type>)
    // Add other checks...
    .withMetricsService(metricsService)
    .build()
    .execute();

Report individual checks via the checkAndPublishMetric function:

let result = security.checkAndPublishMetric(DeviceLockEnabledCheck())

Or alternatively report multiple checks using the checkManyAndPublishMetric function:

let checks = [DeviceLockEnabledCheck(), IsEmulatorCheck(), /** Add more checks here */ ]
let results = security.checkManyAndPublishMetric(checks)

Report individual checks via the checkAndPublishMetric method:

new SecurityService(app.metrics)
    .checkAndPublishMetric(DeviceCheckType.rootEnabled)
    .then(result => {
        // Handle the security result metric
        // result: { id: string, name: string, passed: boolean }
    });

Or alternatively report multiple checks using the checkManyAndPublishMetric method:

new SecurityService(app.metrics)
    .checkManyAndPublishMetric(
        DeviceCheckType.rootEnabled,
        DeviceCheckType.isEmulator,
        // Add more checks here
    )
    .then(results => {
        // Handle the security results array
    });

Report individual checks:

var securityService = MobileCore.GetService<SecurityService>();
var metricsService = MobileCore.GetService<MetricsService>();

DeviceCheckResult result = securityService.Check(DeviceChecks.ROOT_ENABLED, metricsService);

Or alternatively report multiple checks using a CheckExecutor:

var securityService = MobileCore.GetService<SecurityService>();
var metricsService = MobileCore.GetService<MetricsService>();

var checkExecutor = securityService.GetSyncExecutor()
                        .WithDeviceCheck(DeviceChecks.ROOT_ENABLED)
                        .WithDeviceCheck(DeviceChecks.DEVELOPER_MODE_ENABLED)
                        .WithMetricsService(metricsService)
                        // Add more checks here
                        .Build()
Dictionary<string, DeviceCheckResult> results = checkExecutor.Execute();

Certificate Pinning in Android Devices

Certificate pinning can be enabled in individual SDKs through the mobile-services.json file. Certificate pinning will only be enabled for services which are used directly by the SDKs. For other services SPKI pinning is used. Mobile services must have pinning configured separately. For more information on setting up certificate pinning for mobile services see the Android network security guide.

Generating Pinning Configuration

The AeroGear SDK gets its configuration from the https section of the mobile-services.json file in a project.

{
    "services":[],
    "https": {
        "certificatePins": [{
            "host": "example.sync.service",
            "certificateHash": "exampleHash"
        }]
    }
}

To include the https section in configuration when generating it using the Mobile CLI use the --include-cert-pins flag when retrieving a client configuration. By default, self-signed or invalid certs will not be permitted to be included in the certificate pinning configuration. To allow these to be included use the --insecure-skip-tls-verify flag.

$ ./mobile get clientconfig <client name> --include-cert-pins --insecure-skip-tls-verify
Using Pinning Configuration

If the https section is included in the mobile-services.json file then certificate pinning will automatically be enabled for mobile services.

Considerations

If the certificate authority of a service changes then the mobile-services.json file will need to be regenerated in order to retrieve the correct https configuration. The app will then need to be rebuilt and republished for the end users to consume. If this is not done then an app may become incapable of making network requests to other services.