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Privilege Escalation Attacks on Android

by R R Ramanathan, Alexandra Dmitrienko
Nist Special Publication ()
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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 applications 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 Androids security model cannot deal with a transitive permission usage attack and Androids sandbox model fails as a last resort against malware and sophisticated runtime attacks.

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