What to Know about Security of Mobile Apps against Reverse Engineering?

In the present time, mobile app security has turned out to be a trending thing and demands focused efforts from developers while developing or managing overall mobile applications. As an excess of mobile apps flood the entire application market, so do security risks, threats and vulnerabilities afflict them. 

Now, amidst so many threats, Reverse engineering is one such threat that can have grave repercussions for companies and businesses from compromises on intellectual property as well as revenue loss. Developers and professionals must inculcate security features in applications to manage this threat expeditiously and guard their app from unintentional disruption.

What Do You Know about this reverse type of engineering?

Reverse type of engineering is a procedure of obtaining the original source code and other types of resources that go into forming up an APK file from the binary. Via different tools available in the market, DEX files can get decompiled to JAR files, and furthermore to Java source code. This is something that can get used by your competitors to witness app’s functionalities threadbare and even imitate some features surreptitiously. Hackers and attackers may use this technique to access premium type of features of your app by sidestepping the authentication process. Game cheats could use it to attain an unfair advantage over their competing people.

Debuggers are employed to trace the flow of programs, via which the entire business logic of the application can be simulated in another pseudo-application. This might be infected with malware and distributed. Inoffensive users downloading the app are thus get compromised and their sensitive, confidential and private data gets stolen.

How Can You Handle Reverse type of Engineering?

As app security fundamentally enhances the confidence that consumers rest on your product, it is necessary for developers to adopt the best practices to guard mobile apps from reverse type of engineering. A few of such practices are like:

  • Choice of specific programming language matters much. C/C++ must get used to code functionalities that are quite business critical. Android apps are most of the times written in Java, that can easily be decompiled, compared to that of C/C++. Making use of NDK to write critical code natively into the .so files and compiling them really makes the procedure of reverse engineering much unwieldly.
  • Then storing the code stuff on the server side with good level of encryption techniques is also one of the manners in which reverse type of engineering can get checked. Remember you should use secure apes to handle the communication between application and that of the server.
  • It is always suggested to store business logic in an encrypted type of form. Once you do code obfuscation intelligently, it can really help in dealing with this reverse type of engineering so that your code is just a piece of scrambled code to an attacker or hacker trying to crack the logic of your application.
  • Then make it a point that you use a robust hashing algorithm to store confidential or sensitive information, such as passwords. This could make their decryption and further misuse unbearable.
  • Then make sure that you protect the user credentials in an encrypted type of format. Never store them in the device or that of external storage or even that of app environment. Such data once stored in an unencrypted format can easily get accessed or using USB connected to the overall mobile device.
  • Then you should save the database with strong encryption algorithms, such as AES-256 Encryption to augment data security.
  • Then you need to secure and hide the API keys and they should never be hard-coded or saved in resource folders. Such a way code can be conveniently getting unzipped and API decompiled to access the main key.

Be wise while applying SSL

When interacting between server and that of device, most of the developers make use of SSL for better level of security of their code. You must know that there are manifold small methods that are contained in the class that implements a sslsocketfactory interface. These are the trivial techniques that do accept all kinds of certificates; hence, making the application susceptible to middle attacks (MiTM). It is something that could end up in the loss of confidentiality of data transferred via the SSL/TSL protocol. You need to know that an attacker can suitably breach the connection and get valued data by just providing a self-signed type of certificate.

Never store the values in raw format

You need to develop a habit of not storing the values in raw format.  You know for storing your values, it is not suggested to use raw format. Now, just imagine that the value of user balance (in type of currency) requires to be stored, such values are to get saved in encoded form (as an example, you can store them in the algorithm). This way you can ensure utmost protection.

Hide the API Keys 

Most of the times, third-party providers do make use of an API key to grant access to the specific resources. Many times, they use it to earn a good amount of money from their data. It is advised not to store the API keys in shared assets, preferences, resource folders, or as a hardcode in Java. This is simply for the reason they can get easily unzipped and the API can get decompiled to get the key.  Make use of either NDK or that of Private/public key exchange to guard the API key. Once you are thoughtful about these things, you can be surer about the protection of your application.

Avoid external storage 

Files or documents that are stored in external storage devices are quite readable by all applications. They can get easily changed whenever the user links up the USB storage device to the computer. If the application gets deleted, the files are still there in the realm of external storage. It could result in a loss of privacy of valuable data. It is, hence, advised to store overall files in either internal memory or that of use the SQLite database.


So, since you have a good idea about how to protect app from reverse engineering, make sure that you follow these things.  Once you are taking precautions in time, you would be more confident about your overall security.