Eavesdropping and obfuscation techniques for smartphones
Mobile apps often collect and share personal data with untrustworthy third-party apps, which may lead to data misuse and privacy violations. Most of the collected data originates from sensors built into the mobile device, where some of the sensors are treated as sensitive by the mobile platform while others permit unconditional access. Examples of privacy-prone sensors are the microphone, camera and GPS system. Access to these sensors is always mediated by protected function calls. On the other hand, the light sensor, accelerometer and gyroscope are considered innocuous. All apps have unrestricted access to their data. Unfortunately, this gap is not always justified. State-of-the-art privacy mechanisms on Android provide inadequate access control and do not address the vulnerabilities that arise due to unmediated access to so-called innocuous sensors on smartphones. We have developed techniques to demonstrate these threats. As part of our demonstration, we illustrate possible attacks using the innocuous sensors on the phone. As a solution, we present ipShield, a framework that provides users with greater control over their resources at runtime so as to protect against such attacks. We have implemented ipShield by modifying the AOSP.