Layout Investigation of GUI Navigational Interactions of Android Applications
thesisposted on 2019-12-01, 00:00 authored by Joylyn Alexander Lewis
Mobile applications use Accessibility Services to assist users with disabilities (UWDs) in using Graphical User Interface (GUI)-based apps. However, such mobile assistive technologies are not fully secure as these can obtain data from the GUI objects, enhance this data for UWDs and transmit it to a server, thereby potentially exposing sensitive data to the external world. SEAPHISH (SEcuring Accessibility using PHISHing) is a platform aimed towards protecting against such an attack by providing defense by deception. This platform generates a phishing app i.e. an app similar to the original app installed on the user’s smartphone by extracting GUI elements and properties from the original app. A simulation for SEAPHISH can help determine the situations when an attack against a particular app can be performed with a high degree of probability. But performing effective simulations requires a fundamental understanding of the properties of GUI layouts of apps at large. This thesis aims at providing a framework that analyzes GUI layouts and their transitions using a large base of approximately three million Android apps. Various state-of-the-art tools that use different strategies in traversing layouts are explored. We created a framework where the tool Backstage performs static analysis and another tool AndroidRipper performs dynamic analysis of the layouts to help build a GUI model of the app. Using these models, we investigate the layouts of Android apps by collecting statistics on various GUI elements and screens. This investigation enhances SEAPHISH with statistically significant real-world constraints thereby providing defense against malwares and reducing the security vulnerabilities faced by UWDs.