What is Frida and How Can Apps Protect Against it?

Learn how to protect your apps, users and customers from being exploited by dynamic instrumentation tools like Frida

What is Frida?

Frida is an open-source dynamic instrumentation framework primarily used for dynamically analyzing and manipulating the behavior of mobile apps. It is designed to allow developers and security researchers to inject JavaScript code into running applications, enabling them to monitor and modify various aspects of the app's execution, such as function calls, network traffic, and data manipulation. Frida works on multiple platforms, including Android and iOS, making it a versatile tool for mobile app analysis and reverse engineering.

How is Frida used?

While Frida is a useful tool for developers and researchers to debug and modify apps, it also enables malicious actors to exploit applications. Attackers can use Frida to intercept and modify sensitive data like API keys and passwords as they are used in memory. They can bypass authentication or authorization checks by injecting code and overriding logic in your app for a variety of malicious behavior. Essentially it provides a way to manipulate the behavior of any app without having access to the application source code.

How Attackers use Frida:

  • Code Injection: Attackers can use Frida to inject their own code into a running process. This can allow them to modify the behavior of the application, bypass security checks, or steal sensitive information. By injecting malicious code, attackers can intercept and manipulate function calls, alter data, or even hook into encryption routines.

  • SSL Pinning Bypass: Many mobile applications implement Static SSL/TLS pinning to ensure secure communication with servers. Attackers can use Frida to bypass SSL pinning by intercepting the SSL/TLS traffic and replacing the legitimate SSL certificates with their own. Learn more.

  • Function Hooking: Frida provides powerful hooking capabilities, allowing attackers to intercept and modify the behavior of specific functions within an application. By hooking critical functions, attackers can tamper with the application's logic, bypass security measures, or extract sensitive data.

  • Old Solutions to Modern Problems: There's copious amounts of older & outdated mobile app security products on the market today that rely fully on defending against attacks by incorporating security measures on the app and device itself, Tools like Frida can easily allow malicious actors to disable these security features as you've essentially handed it over and into their hands. See how our patented solution gives you the competitive edge. Learn more

  • Abusing APIs: Without actually authenticating the application and device, an injected script can call privileged APIs, allowing data to be scraped or in some cases allowing access to sensitive user data.

  • Pirating paid apps: Bypass licensing checks or inject cheats to access premium functionality without purchase.

  • Gaming & Online Gambling: Cheaters can use Frida to inject javascript into a running mobile application to gain a competitive edge through client-side hacks, this can not only cause financial loss but also lead to frustration and reputational loss from legitimate players.

Move defense out of the attacker’s reach and into the Approov Cloud!

Approov ships with extensive layers of protection against dynamic analysis tools like Frida:

  • Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP): Using a runtime application self-protection solution like Approov can provide real-time monitoring and defense against runtime attacks, including Frida. It detects and responds to abnormal behavior, unauthorized code injection, and other security threats. Learn more.

  • Dynamic Attestation Approach: The running app must prove itself to be genuine through a sequence of integrity measurements. These results are then sent to the Approov cloud service using a patented challenge-response protocol, immune from replay attacks. The Approov cloud makes the decisions. The app cannot make its own decisions about integrity and cannot sign its own tokens. Defense is moved out of the attacker’s reach and into the Approov cloud. Learn more.

  • Root/Jailbreak Detection: Approov detects if your app is running on a jailbroken iOS device or a rooted Android device. Such devices pose considerable extra risk, as enhanced privileges allow tools like Frida to compromise your app’s sandbox. Such devices may allow data theft from your app or interference with its operation.

  • Runtime Integrity Checks: Approov performs ongoing runtime integrity checks to detect any modifications or tampering attempts on the application code.

  • Only Genuine Apps Can Access APIs: Approov performs an ongoing, deep inspection of your mobile app and the device it is running upon, and based on this certifies authenticity to your backend APIs and services. Learn more.

  • Runtime Secrets Protection: Approov’s SDK allows you to manage secrets on our Approov Cloud service, such as API keys, to authenticate itself to various services that it uses. Rather than hardcoding these in your app, where they are fixed and subject to reverse engineering extraction, the SDK obtains them at runtime from our cloud service. Learn more.

  • App Tamper Detection: Approov performs advanced runtime memory analysis to make sure your untampered official app is present. This prevents repackaging, modification and fake app attacks.

  • Continuous Security Audits: Our team of experienced security researchers conduct continuous audits of our SDK to identify and address any vulnerabilities or weaknesses that could be exploited by Frida and other tools. This can help ensure that the application remains secure and protected against emerging threats.

  • Modified file system: Approov inspects the file system looking for tweaks/changes made on jailbroken devices.

  • Cloner App Detection: There are a large number of cloner apps for Android, enabling the running of multiple instances of your app on a single device. Cloner apps are extremely dangerous from a security perspective since they fundamentally undermine Android sandbox security guarantees, allowing attacks from the cloner app itself or between apps installed in the same cloner. Learn more.

  • Live Threat Analytics: An account with Approov provides comprehensive metrics to all customers available in real time and over a chosen time period. With this you can monitor what approov has blocked and intercepted during our dynamic attestation process. The interface is built on Grafana which allows you to use our pre-built dashboards.

    Screenshot of Approov live threat analytics

Stay ahead with Approov

It’s not just about keeping up with threats, it’s about staying ahead of them. In today's world, mobile app security and API protection is non- negotiable. Our Customers use Approov to reduce business risk by protecting their apps, APIs, users and customers with Approov.

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