Privilege Escalation Attacks on Android.

Lucas Davi, Alexandra Dmitrienko, Ahmad-Reza Sadeghi, Marcel Winandy

Information Security, 13th International Conference, ISC 2010, LNCS 6531/2011, pp. 346-360, Springer 2011.


Android is a modern and popular software platform for smartphones. Among its predominant features is an advanced security model which is based on application-oriented mandatory access control and sandboxing. This allows developers and users to restrict the execution of an application to the privileges it has (mandatorily) assigned at installation time. The exploitation of vulnerabilities in program code is hence believed to be confined within the privilege boundaries of an application's sandbox. However, in this paper we show that a privilege escalation attack is possible. We show that a genuine application exploited at runtime or a malicious application can escalate granted permissions. Our results immediately imply that Android's security model cannot deal with a transitive permission usage attack and Android's sandbox model fails as a last resort against malware and sophisticated runtime attacks.

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Tags: Android, attack, mobile phone, security, smartphone