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  1. The prosperity of smartphone markets has raised new concerns about software security on mobile platforms, leading to a grow- ing demand for effective software obfuscation techniques. Due to various differences between the mobile and desktop ecosystems, ob- fuscation faces both technical and non-technical challenges when applied to mobile software. Although there have been quite a few software security solution providers launching their mobile app obfuscation services, it is yet unclear how real-world mobile devel- opers perform obfuscation as part of their software engineering practices. Our research takes a first step to systematically studying the deployment of software obfuscation techniques in mobile software development. With the help of an automated but coarse-grained method, we computed the likelihood of an app being obfuscated for over a million app samples crawled from Apple App Store. We then inspected the top 6600 instances and managed to identify 601 obfuscated versions of 539 iOS apps. By analyzing this sample set with extensive manual effort, we made various observations that reveal the status quo of mobile obfuscation in the real world, providing insights into understanding and improving the situation of software protection on mobile platforms. 
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  2. In recent years, mobile apps have become the infrastructure of many popular Internet services. It is now fairly common that a mobile app serves a large number of users across the globe. Different from web- based services whose important program logic is mostly placed on remote servers, many mobile apps require complicated client-side code to perform tasks that are critical to the businesses. The code of mobile apps can be easily accessed by any party after the software is installed on a rooted or jailbroken device. By examining the code, skilled reverse engineers can learn various knowledge about the design and implementation of an app. Real-world cases have shown that the disclosed critical information allows malicious parties to abuse or exploit the app-provided services for unrightful profits, leading to significant financial losses for app vendors. One of the most viable mitigations against malicious reverse engineering is to obfuscate the software before release. Despite that security by obscurity is typically considered to be an unsound protection methodology, software obfuscation can indeed increase the cost of reverse engineering, thus delivering practical merits for protecting mobile apps. In this paper, we share our experience of applying obfuscation to multiple commercial iOS apps, each of which has millions of users. We discuss the necessity of adopting obfuscation for protecting modern mobile business, the challenges of software obfuscation on the iOS platform, and our efforts in overcoming these obstacles. Our report can benefit many stakeholders in the iOS ecosystem, including developers, security service providers, and Apple as the administrator of the ecosystem. 
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