Piracy is a fact of life on all mobile platforms including Android. If an attacker wants to pirate your app its only a matter of time and effort. We don’t have to be sitting targets though. We can add layers of protection around our app to make it difficult for would-be pirates. Let’s look at some of the techniques and tools we can use to protect our apps.
If the app relied on a server, for media like videos or pictures, or the results an algorithm hosted on the server, then whenever the app contacts the server, the server can verify that the app is licensed. As long as the server remains secure it is very difficult to circumvent this technique.
Using libraries like Google’s LVL (License Verification Library) or DroidActivator we can shut the door on casual piracy. Essentially, the library is integrated into our app, then, when the app is installed, it contacts a license server, which checks to see if the app was legally installed. Be aware however that using these libraries is not just a simple matter of copy and paste. Some effort has to be put in to modifying the libraries to avoid common cracking techniques.
Java byte code is particularly susceptible to reverse engineering, so using a code obfuscater like ProGuard is essential. This not only makes it harder to remove licence checks, but also has the added benefit of making it more difficult to extend and reuse our code.
Finally, we must remember that whatever techniques we use to protect our apps don’t end up penalizing licensed users.
To hear more about this subject and the wider aspects of Security on Android, don’t miss Accenture Mobility’s Dino Livanos speaking on Android Security on Day 1 at 14:30.
It’s a topic of equal relevance to the Finance sector, Michael Hobbs from Accenture Mobility will be sitting on the Panel: Mobile payments – how to overcome barriers and engage consumers, on Day 2 at 11:00, where no doubt the subject of security will be on everyone’s mind.
We at Accenture Mobility look forward to talking to you all at Apps World, please visit us at Booth #166. Register for your free exhibition pass here.