Frida supports two modes of operation, depending on whether your iOS device is jailbroken or not.
Table of contents
This is the most powerful setup, as it lets you instrument system services and apps with very little effort.
In this tutorial we will show you how to do function tracing on your iOS device.
Setting up your iOS device
Cydia and add Frida’s repository by going to
Add and enter
https://build.frida.re. You should now be able to
find and install the
apps running on your iOS device. This happens over USB, so you will need to have
your USB cable handy, though there’s no need to plug it in just yet.
A quick smoke-test
Now, back on your Windows or macOS system it’s time to make sure the basics are working. Run:
Using a Linux-based OS?
As of Frida 6.0.9 there's now usbmuxd integration, so -U works. For earlier Frida versions you can use WiFi and set up an SSH tunnel between localhost:27042 on both ends, and then use -R instead of -U.
Unless you already plugged in your device, you should see the following message:
Plug in your device, and you should see a process list along the lines of:
Great, we’re good to go then!
Tracing crypto calls in the Twitter app
Alright, let’s have some fun. Fire up the Twitter app on your device, and while making sure it stays in the foreground without the device going to sleep, go back to your desktop and run:
CCryptorCreate and friends are part of Apple’s
and is used by many apps to take care of encryption, decryption, hashing, etc.
Reload your Twitter feed or exercise the UI in some way that results in network traffic, and you should see some output like the following:
man CCryptorCreate, and start diving deeper and deeper into your iOS apps.
In order to instrument an app with Frida you will need to make it load a .dylib that we’ll refer to as a “gadget”.
In this tutorial we will show you how to change your Xcode build configuration so you can start instrumenting your app with Frida. Note that it is also possible to perform this on an existing binary by using insert_dylib or a similar tool.
Customizing your Xcode project
Download the latest
FridaGadget.dylib for iOS and sign it:
Open your project in Xcode and drag the “Frameworks” directory from the previous
step into the Project Navigator view, dropping it right next to your
“AppDelegate” source file. It’s important that you drag the directory and not
the file. Xcode will then prompt you “Choose options for adding these files:”,
and you should then enable the “Copy items if needed” option, and make sure that
“Create folder references” is selected. Hit Finish. Select the project itself
at the top of the Project Navigator view and switch to its “Build Phases” tab.
Expand the “Frameworks” directory in the Project Navigator and drag and drop
FridaGadget.dylib into the “Link Binary With Libraries” section. Verify that
Frameworks directory with this .dylib also got added to the
“Copy Bundle Resources” section.
A quick smoke-test
Launch your app with Xcode, and you should see a message getting logged:
Note that the app will appear to “hang” during startup. This is normal and caused by Frida waiting for you to instrument any APIs you’re interested in, or just tell it to go ahead and finish launching the app.
Now that Frida is waiting for us, and its gadget exposes the same interface
frida-server, we should be able to get a process listing:
frida-server, there’s only a single process we can attach to,
which is the app itself.
Let’s also check which apps can be spawned:
Looking good. If we now
attach() to this process it will cause the app
to finish launching. However, if we first
spawn(["re.frida.Gadget"]) we will
be able to
attach() and apply our instrumentation, and the app will not carry
on launching until we call
resume(). This means we can
attach() right away
for late instrumentation, or we can
spawn() to perform early instrumentation.
Tracing libc calls
Assuming your app was just launched by Xcode and is waiting for you to let it finish launching, go ahead and try out some early instrumentation:
man open, and start diving deeper and deeper into your iOS apps.
Using the Simulator
To instrument an app running in the Simulator simply replace
in the CLI examples above, and at the API level instead of
Building your own tools
While the CLI tools like frida, frida-trace, etc., are definitely
quite useful, there might be times when you’d like to build your own tools
harnessing the powerful Frida APIs. For that we would
recommend reading the chapters on Functions and
Messages, and anywhere you see
substitute that with