Rooting is the process of mobile users obtaining privileged control over Android subsystems. This process overcomes the limitations imposed by mobile hardware to prevent unauthorized access to user data. Rooting gives hackers permissions to alter system settings and run applications which usually require administrator-level privileges, and hence runs the danger of compromising the mobile device completely.
In effect, rooting enables bypassing the Android application sandbox, and the resultant “superuser” powers on the Linux kernel (on which Android OS runs) can be used to intentionally manipulate functioning of the mobile device through exploiting security vulnerabilities and performing unauthorized operations. Though rooting can be done by an informed user for advanced app-related code manipulation, hackers tend to exploit it by injecting malware in the device.
Harmful Effects of Rooting
Though rooting has its upsides, in that it gives access to functionalities which are not available otherwise in terms of complete customization of the OS, it has major downsides too, especially with respect to compromising mobile security at vulnerable points. Rooting allows access to system files of the operating system, which can be modified or deleted, with possible irreversible impact on the hardware itself. It allows circumventing the security restrictions put in place by Android OS, which, in turn, can facilitate an easily infected device through trojan- and malware- infected apps (if not protected by anti-virus software).
To avoid compromising the user’s device, it is necessary to know how different rooting mechanisms can impact an app’s security.
An application running as root using privilege escalation vulnerability in the Linux kernel of the Android OS can get full access to the filesystem. This could be used to damage the mobile device by running apps harmful for proper functioning, or, even worse, “brick” the phone, rendering it completely useless.
This involves flashing the stock configuration of the mobile phone through bootloader. A custom ROM may be installed in its place to achieve persistent root access.
Rooting can sometimes lead to unintended consequences as well. An otherwise harmless app could start behaving awkwardly, killing processes and running arbitrary commands. Hooking frameworks are used to hook the application’s code during runtime by tweaking them.
AppSealing provides a rooted environment detection feature to determine whether a mobile app is running. It also provides security features to protect mobile apps from security vulnerabilities in rooted devices.
Root Detection by AppSealing
AppSealing ensures an all-round, persistent protection for your mobile app and monitors activities in a rooted device to ensure a secure environment. It provides the same level of security to mobile apps as it would enjoy in a non-rooted device. This innovative security solution monitors the mobile app as a robust security layer for any inadvertent access by apps to the memory, filesystem, firmware, etc. AppSealing provides this complete package as Security as a Service solution.
With new rooting methodologies, like systemless root/Magisk, becoming popular, root detection is becoming harder, since the device system’s partition is not modified when it is rooted through these methods. These methods are increasingly being used by hackers in rooting mobile devices. Apps which are installed without the protection of proper security solutions cannot detect whether a device has been rooted, and can thus are rendered vulnerable. Knowing whether a device is rooted or not is crucial for the overall security of a mobile app.
The AppSealing Protection
AppSealing helps maintain app components’ integrity promptly by detecting rooted devices and monitors any malicious access to the app’s data and codebase. Such threat detection and real-time analytics help AppSealing customers to quickly take necessary actions to protect their apps from running in risky environments. AppSealing ensures a comprehensive protection for apps by handling the following security threats effectively:
- Reverse engineering
- App data theft
- IP theft
- Malware insertion
- Hooking and root cloaking frameworks
It is high time you adopt the AppSealing protection to secure your mobile apps against security threats arising out of rooting of mobile devices. Let AppSealing magic weave a thread of security over your mobile apps.
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