How to Prevent Reverse Engineering of an Android APK

How to Prevent Reverse Engineering of an Android APK

6 June 2024 Stephan Petzl Leave a comment Tech-Help

Developing a payment processing app or any sensitive application for Android comes with the challenge of protecting your resources, assets, and source code from potential hackers. While it’s impossible to completely prevent reverse engineering, there are several strategies you can employ to make it significantly more difficult.

Understanding the Limitations

Firstly, it’s important to understand that no method can guarantee 100% protection against reverse engineering. As stated by experts, any protection implemented can be disabled or removed by a determined attacker. However, you can take steps to make hacking more challenging.

Strategies to Protect Your APK

1. Obfuscation

Using tools like ProGuard can obfuscate your code, making it more difficult to read when decompiled. ProGuard is included with the Android SDK and can help by renaming classes, fields, and methods with obscure names, and removing unused code.

2. Native Libraries

Consider moving critical parts of your application to native libraries written in C or C++. These are compiled into .so files, which are more difficult to decompile than Java code. Place these libraries in the appropriate native library path in your project.

3. Encryption

Encrypt sensitive resources and data. For instance, you can download encrypted resources from the web at runtime and decrypt them within the app. This adds an extra layer of security as the resources are not directly accessible from the APK.

4. Server-Side Processing

Move critical functionalities to a server. For example, if you have an algorithm that must remain secure, implement it on a server and have your app communicate with the server to process data. This way, the sensitive code is never distributed with the APK.

5. Anti-Debugging Techniques

Implement checks in your application to detect when it is being run under a debugger. If such a scenario is detected, your application can take defensive actions, such as exiting or disabling certain functionalities.

Practical Example

Consider a scenario where you have a payment processing app. Instead of storing payment processing logic and sensitive data within the app, you can:

  • Use ProGuard to obfuscate the code.
  • Move critical algorithms to native libraries.
  • Encrypt sensitive resources and download them at runtime.
  • Handle payment processing on a secure server and communicate with the app over HTTPS.


While you cannot completely prevent reverse engineering, these strategies can significantly increase the difficulty for potential hackers. By implementing obfuscation, native libraries, encryption, server-side processing, and anti-debugging techniques, you can protect your application’s critical components and data.

Enhance Your App Security with Repeato

For mobile developers focusing on creating robust applications, Repeato offers a No-code test automation tool for iOS and Android. With Repeato, you can create, run, and maintain automated tests efficiently, allowing you to concentrate on developing secure and high-quality applications. Repeato’s computer vision and AI-based approach ensures that your tests are fast to edit and run, and can be easily managed even by non-technical team members.

Learn more about how Repeato can help streamline your testing process and enhance your app’s security by visiting our documentation.

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