MuTent: Dynamic Android Intent Protection with Ownership-Based Key Distribution and Security Contracts

Duraisamy Soundrapandian, Pradeep Kumar
Bao, Tiffany
Baek, Jaejong
Shoshitaishvili, Yan
Doupé, Adam
Wang, Ruoyu
Ahn, Gail-Joon
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Intents are the plain-text based message object used for ICC by the Android framework. Hence the framework essentially lacks an inbuilt security mechanism to protect the visibility, accessibility, and integrity of Intent's data that facilitates adversaries to intercept or manipulate the data. In this work, we investigate the Intent protection mechanism and propose a security-enhanced Intent library MuTent that allows Android apps to securely exchange sensitive data during ICC. Differently from the existing mechanism, MuTent provides accessibility and visibility of Intent data by validating the receiver's capability and provides integrity by using encryption and the Arc security contract code. Especially, ICC is initiated by exchanging MuTent and follows a novel ownership-based key distribution model, that restricts the malware apps without permission from deciphering data. Through the evaluation, we show that MuTent can improve the security for popular Android apps with minimal performance overheads, demonstrated using F-Droid apps.
Software Development for Mobile Devices, the Internet-of-Things, and Cyber-Physical Systems, encryption, intent leak, mutation attack, ownership-based key generation and distribution, ownership types, security contracts
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