Anti-debugging is a technique used by mobile app developers to shield their apps from attackers who might attempt to analyze or manipulate the code or data contained within them. Here are some common anti-debugging tactics found in mobile applications:
1. Debugging Detection: The app detects whether it is running in a debugging environment and exits automatically if so. Detection can be accomplished by checking for debuggers or debug flags present.
2. Code Obfuscation: This involves altering the code of an application to make it harder to decipher and reverse-engineer. Code obfuscation can be accomplished by renaming variables, using non-intuitive control flows, or encrypting the source code.
3. Root detection: Some apps may check whether the device is rooted or jailbroken, which could indicate that someone is trying to modify the app’s behavior or data.
4. Memory Tamper Detection: The app may periodically check the integrity of its memory to detect whether it has been altered by a debugger or other means.
5. Time-based Protections: The app may include time-based safeguards that disable use after a set period has elapsed, helping protect it against malicious attacks that attempt to exploit app behavior over an extended period. These can prevent attackers from exploiting sensitive information about how the app functions.
6. Hardware Breakpoints: A hardware-based anti-debugging technique involves inserting a breakpoint into the code at an exact location, which can prevent a debugger from running the program and reading its contents.
7. Suspending Threads: This anti-debugging technique can be employed against user-mode debuggers to stop them from executing the program and slow down malware’s progress.
It is essential to remember that anti-debugging techniques are not guaranteed, and a determined attacker may still be able to bypass them. Therefore, developers should combine multiple strategies to make it more challenging for malicious actors to reverse engineer an app’s code.