It is widely believed that iOS apps have better security features than Android apps. Various reasons can be attributed to this. However, for any app, security is one aspect which should not be overlooked. As new breeds of threats loom over, app vulnerability is one of the biggest concerns today. But thanks to the expanding universe of app security. Today, there are numerous analyzing tools available to help tighten your app security.
We asked some of the top Android mobile app developers within our circle about the importance of using additional security tools. The common answer was that there is no harm in trying them out, because a lot of time and effort is invested in developing an app, and even a tiny bit of security lapse can turn out to be a clink in the armour.
In this blog we’ll look at some useful Android app security tools to help Android developers deliver secure apps. These tools may not be one-stop solutions for all your security demands, but they certainly do help in detecting security loopholes in Android apps.
Android security tools
There are several android app security tools available online, and their area, functionality, and purpose differs, and it is up to the users/developers to decide on tools that serve their purpose. Instead of putting all the tools into one kitty, we gave segregated them according to their usage.
Note: Most of the mentioned tools works well with multiple areas, like online, static, dynamic etc., while some might be confined to work well in one specific area.
Online Analyzing Tools
The DeGuard is an efficient statistical De-obfuscation tool for Android. It is based on powerful probabilistic graphics models accrued from thousands of open source programs.
It can reveal string decoders, classes and can recover crucial information in Android APKs, including method, class names and third-party libraries.
DeGuard is one of the most powerful online tools, which uses Machine Learning(ML) to reverse the effects of code obfuscators. It also incorporates Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide a superior reverse engineering functionality.
Apart from being on the list of Gartner’s top mobile app security vendors, the Appknox is a comprehensive security testing tool out there. The tool is designed to statically analyze code binaries for potential security flaws.
Since there are limitations in automated testing method, Appknox uses top ethical hackers to manually test and detect deep security loopholes, data leakages and other vulnerabilities.
This tool is designed to offer protection and security to Android APK and SDK against threats such as piracy, cloning, tampering, and key extraction by applying encryption and obfuscation techniques. It also offers protection against dynamic analysis and secures APKs from run-time behaviour modification.
The DexGuard also works as a fine static analysis tool for Android applications.
Static Analysis Tools
This tool offers two benefits. One, you can reduce the size of your APK and bring down the time spent on debugging issues pertaining to DEX files within your app. The APK Analyzer offers a quick insight into your APK composition, and allows you to compare the differences between two APKs.
If you are worried about malicious apps, APKInspector could come across as your saviour. This tool offers users with both, graphical features and analysis functions to help gain deep insights into malicious apps.
The APKInspector is one of the powerful and widely used GUI tools to help developers analyze Android applications.
ClassyShark’s APK dashboard
A standalone and reliable binary inspection tool for Android developers, ClassyShark helps you open any Android executable and analyze its content. This simple and easy-to-use tool allows your to browse all the members, classes and dependencies, and check the method count of any app, effortlessly.
The tool supports multiple platforms such as class, apk, jar, so, aar, Android XML and Dex.
Users can perform incremental and camel searches from the toolbar and extract relevant information as they type. On the whole, ClassyShark is an effective tool designed to help identify and analyze an app’s run-time misbehaviour.
Here’s a useful tool to extract familial signatures for Android malware, which are produced by piggybacking different benign applications with same malicious code. In brief, the DroidLegacy uses a linear algorithm to locate malicious modules in each APK; the Android API calls used by the malicious modules are extracted to create signatures; then the malicious malwares are extracted.
Androwarn is an open source APK static code analyzer. The main function of this tool is to detect and alert users about malicious behaviour in Android applications. The tool is capable of generating reports on three levels: essential, advanced and expert. And it can be generated in both TXT and HTML formats.
Dynamic Analysis Tools
Tracedroid is a well-known automated dynamic analysis tool. With this tool users can effortlessly upload any APK file for automated analysis. Tracedroid is designed to record the behavior of executed applications, and can analyze several aspects of the app during testing. In order to trigger app behavior, Tracedroid emulates actions like incoming calls, user interaction, SMS messages etc., to reveal malicious ongoings hidden in network communication, User Interface (UI), Java, and internal function calls.
Here is another interesting tool that offers dynamic analysis of Android applications. After analysis, the tool can generate wide range of information such as:
* File read & write operation
* Incoming and outgoing network data
* Started services and loaded classes through DexClassLoader
* List of broadcast receivers
* Phone calls and sent SMS
* Cryptographic operations done using Android API
* Information leaks through SMS, File and Network
Based on the behaviour of the package the tool generates two graphs: One, showcasing the temporal order of the operations, and the other, a treemap that can be used to check the similarities between analyzed packages.
The AndroL4b is one of the widely used security virtual machine used to reverse engineer and analyze malwares in Android applications. This virtual machine is based on Ubuntu Mate and includes a wide range of latest frameworks, labs and tutorial used by various security experts and researchers.
The CuckooDroid is an extension of CuckooSandbox, an open source automated analysis tool. The CuckooDroid automatically analyzes malwares and other suspicious files. The tool is powered by Androguard and Google Play unofficial Python API.
It stands for Quick Android Review Kit, and is developed by LinkedIn. This well-known tool efficiently scans for security vulnerabilities and in both, source code and in the packaged APK of an Android App.
This easy-to-use tool offers in-depth details about the vulnerabilities it detects and uses multiple decompilers to deliver a combined and effective output. Qark is also capable of creating “Proof of Concept” deployable APKs.
This tool is dubbed as ‘security testing that is as easy as spell check’. That is because the Devknox auto-corrects security issues directly in the IDE and simultaneously while the app is being developed. Devknox understands the context of your code well and gives you real-time security suggestions and one-click fixes to make developers’ life easy.
The features include real-time testing, interactive dashboards, ability to integrate across platforms, vulnerability tracking and detailed reports generation.
This is one of the most popular reverse engineering tools for Android. Released in 2010, the ApkTool can crack-open third-party or closed Android app, convert it to its near-original form, analyze it, and then rebuild it with custom modifications. The process of reverse engineering becomes much easier with its project-like file structure. The tool also streamlines and removes unnecessary actions.
Based on Python, Androguard is another well-known and powerful reverse engineering tool for Android applications. The tool helps in performing static code analysis and checks for the presence of malware in apps.
Androguard offers better control in manipulating DEX files and comes with useful features such as ‘diff’ checking of two APK files, measuring obfuscators efficiency, and testing for any illegal modifications and app tampering.
The Dex2Jar is an useful reverse engineering tool for Android, which comes with several exciting features:
* Read, write, and modify DEX files (or even translate them)
* Converting DEX to class files and then zipping them as a Java Archive (JAR) format
* Assemble smali to DEX file and vice versa.
This tool spies and monitors suspicious activities or services on any Android application. Just as the name suggests, IntentSniffer helps in ‘sniffing out’, or discovering potential vulnerable points in applications. IntentSniffer also lets users dynamically update categories and intent actions at run-time.
IntentSniffer comes handy while testing various data that you wish to send from one activity to another activity (or to services) to detect weak points in the application.
Testing and detecting security loopholes is a crucial function that has to be carried out diligently throughout the application development. We believe this blog has introduced you to some news tools, or reminded you about a tool that you had forgotten, however, we hope that this information will be helpful to you in strengthening the security of your app.
There are several tools available online. Take your time, explore each one of them, and use those that serves your purpose.