VB2016 paper: Wild Android collusions

Posted by   Martijn Grooten on   Mar 26, 2018

Playing out in the sidelines of the Cambridge Analytica scandal was the discovery that Facebook had been collecting metadata on the calls and SMS conversations of many of the users of its Android app. Whatever your view on this practice, the fact that it is carried out by a single app does at least make it somewhat transparent to anyone analysing the app.

It is more complicated when apps use a concept called 'app collusion', where two (or more) apps installed on the same device work together to collect and extract data from the device. Using the combined efforts and permissions of multiple apps makes the exfiltration of data less easy to detect, either by privacy-conscious users or by reverse engineering, which often looks at apps individually.

App collusion isn't merely a theoretical concept though. At VB2016 in Denver, Jorge Blasco (then from City University London) presented a paper he had co-written with Thomas M. Chen, Igor Muttik and Markus Roggenbach, in which they discussed the concept of app collusion and presented their discoveries of colluding code in many in-the-wild apps.



Today, we publish the paper "Wild Android collusions" in both HTML and PDF format. We have also uploaded the video of Jorge's talk to our YouTube channel.

Tomorrow, we will publish a follow-up paper in which the researchers detail their method of using machine-learning to detect app collusions.




Latest posts:

New paper: Powering the distribution of Tesla stealer with PowerShell and VBA macros

Since their return four years ago, Office macros have been one of the most common ways to spread malware. Today, we publish a research paper which looks in detail at a campaign in which VBA macros are used to execute PowerShell code, which in turn…

VB2017 paper: Android reverse engineering tools: not the usual suspects

Within a few years, Android malware has grown from a relatively small threat to a huge problem involving more than three million new malware samples a year. Axelle Apvrille, one of the world's leading Android malware researchers, will deliver a…

Patch early, patch often, but don't blindly trust every 'patch'

Compromised websites are being used to serve fake Flash Player uploads that come with a malicious payload.

Virus Bulletin at RSA

Next week, VB Editor Martijn Grooten will be at the RSA Conference in San Francisco.

Broad-ranging and international VB2018 programme announced

VB is excited to reveal the details of an interesting and diverse programme for VB2018, the 28th Virus Bulletin International Conference, which takes place 3-5 October in Montreal, Canada.