Automated Identification of Installed Malicious Android Applications

August 2013
Topics: Cybersecurity, Computer Security, Wireless Communications
Mark D. Guido, The MITRE Corporation
Jared K. Ondricek, The MITRE Corporation
Justin N. Grover, The MITRE Corporation
David M. Wilburn, The MITRE Corporation
Thanh N. Nguyen, The MITRE Corporation
Andrew Hunt, The MITRE Corporation

​Increasingly, Android smartphones are becoming more pervasive within the government and industry, despite the limited ways to detect malicious applications installed to these phones' operating systems. Although enterprise security mechanisms are being developed for use on Android devices, these methods cannot detect previously unknown malicious applications. As more sensitive enterprise information becomes available and accessible on these smartphones, the risk of data loss inherently increases. A malicious application's actions could potentially leave sensitive data exposed with little recourse. Without an effective corporate monitoring solution in place for these mobile devices, organizations will continue to lack the ability to determine when a compromise has occurred. This paper presents research that applies traditional digital forensic techniques to remotely monitor and audit Android smartphones. The smartphone sends changed file system data to a remote server, allowing for expensive forensic processing and the offline application of traditional tools and techniques rarely applied to the mobile environment. The research aims at ascertaining new ways of identifying malicious Android applications and ultimately attempts to improve the state of enterprise smartphone monitoring. An on-phone client, server, database, and analysis framework was developed and tested using real mobile malware. The results are promising that the developed detection techniques identify changes to important system partitions; recognize file system changes, including file deletions; and find persistence and triggering mechanisms in newly installed applications. It is believed that these detection techniques should be performed by enterprises to identify malicious applications affecting their phone infrastructure.

View or download the paper at ScienceDirect.​

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