Denial-of-App Attack on Android will be presented at SPSM 2014

Eric | August 31, 2014

On 7th November, we are presenting our “Denial-of-App Attack” at the SPSM 2014 workshop in Scottsdale, Arizona (USA). 


We describe a novel class of attacks called denial-of-app that allows adversaries to inhibit the future installation of attacker- selected applications on mobile phones. Adversaries can use such attacks to entrap users into installing attacker-preferred applications, for instance to generate additional revenue from advertisements on a competitive app market or to increase the rate of malware installation. Another possibility is to block anti-virus applications or security workarounds to complicate malware detection and removal.

We demonstrate such an attack that works on arbitrary unmodified stock Android phones. It is even possible to block many applications from a list predefined by the attacker in- stead of just a single app. Even more, we propose an attack for banning applications from Google Play Store regardless of the user’s phone by exploiting similar vulnerabilities in the market’s app vetting process. Unblocking an application blocked by our attack requires either root privileges or a complete device reset. The Android security team has confirmed and fixed the vulnerability in Android 4.4.3 (bug 13416059) and has given consent to this publication within a responsible-disclosure process. To the best of our knowledge, the attack applies to all versions prior to Android 4.4.3. 

The Paper can be downloaded soon.

The PoC Exploit can be downloaded here.

The Android Security Team released a fix in Android 4.4.3. Details about the fix are here.

Cross-posted from SEEBlog