WiSec 2017
Conference paper

UiRef: Analysis of sensitive user inputs in Android applications

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Mobile applications frequently request sensitive data. While prior work has focused on analyzing sensitive-data uses originating from well-defined API calls in the system, the security and privacy implications of inputs requested via application user interfaces have been widely unexplored. In this paper, our goal is to understand the broad implications of such requests in terms of the type of sensitive data being requested by applications. To this end, we propose UiRef (User Input REsolution Framework), an automated approach for resolving the semantics of user inputs requested by mobile applications. UiRef s design includes a number of novel techniques for extracting and resolving user interface labels and addressing ambiguity in semantics, resulting in significant improvements over prior work. We apply UiRef to 50,162 Android applications from Google Play and use outlier analysis to triage applications with questionable input requests. We identify concerning developer practices, including insecure exposure of account passwords and non-consensual input disclosures to third parties. These findings demonstrate the importance of user-input semantics when protecting end users.


18 Jul 2017


WiSec 2017