The Progress and Development of Automatation in Android
Technology is developing rapidly in a space that makes it hard for the people to embrace one technology before being outdated by another. Over the past few years we have witnessed the tremendous growth in technology in terms of innovation, economical impact, socio-cultural changes, automation and development in science. The rapid development has given prominence to mobility, distributed resource sharing and ease-of-use compared to the earlier days where centralized authorities govern the technology. Hence, the potential of a mobile device and the inherent power of it has dramatically increased by enabling every mundane task as well as trusting every aspect of our lives to be dealt at the tip of our finger.
Mobile devices are not just necessary but has become a vital component in our lives. Smartphones have become pervasive due to the availability of office applications, Internet, games, vehicle guidance using location-based services apart from conventional services such as voice calls, SMSes, and multimedia services. Some intrinsic developments around smart phones are; smart homes where you control every appliance using your mobile device, smart health-care where not only collecting data but also intelligently control your medical devices attached to with, smart-wallet which advocates cashless transactions through simple button clicks, are some examples of the state-of-the-art today. Even though smart phones have been used in previous decades, in recent times the number of active mobile devices worldwide was recorded almost 7 billions, and in developed nations the ratio between mobile devices and people is estimated as 120.8 percent. Since 2008 iOS and Android has generated an enormous attraction among end-users, developers and businesses around the world. Recent surveys indicate that Android OS has captured more than 85% of the total smartphone market share leaving its competitors iOS, Windows and Blackberry far behind. Gartner smartphone sale report 2017 indicates a 9.8% growth in smartphone sales compared to 2016 in which 89% of the sales generated from Android smartphones.
Evergrowing android popularity is mainly due to its open architecture and the popularity of its application programming interface (API) in the development community which encourage developers to provide innovative applications which are hosted at Google Play for a nominal fee and are readily available for the end-user to download and use. Unfortunately the saying that “technology is a double edge sword” is true even for smartphones, increased popularity of smartphone usage and associated monetary benefits have also attracted malware developers resulting in one the major security problems today. Ubiquitous Internet connectivity and availability of personal information such as contacts, messages, social network access, browsing history and banking credentials has attracted the attention of malware developers towards the mobile devices in general and Android in particular. As android have been dominating on the market-share and in popularity, it has not failed to dominate in malware industry. Forbes reports suggest that 97% of the total global mobile malware is accounted from android, which highlights that Android devices being overrun with malicious strains, and their users being constantly under attack. Android malware such as premium-rate SMS Trojans, spyware, botnets, aggressive adware and privilege escalation attack exploits reported exponential rise apart from being distributed from the secure Google Play Store and well known third-party marketplaces.
Android security solution providers report an alarming rise of malware as malware authors use prevalent stealth techniques, dynamic execution, code obfuscation methods, repackaging and encryption to bypass current state-of-the-art protection mechanisms. Given the importance of the role played by a mobile device, it is a must to protect our devices from malicious users who strive to control our mobile device without our consent such that all our valuables become vulnerable. New technique that adapt to smartphone platform and provide timely responses are an imminent need for the android platform. BackgroundExponential increase in malicious activities in the android platform has lead the anti-malware industry to research on robust and efficient methods to detect malicious app on-device. Most of the anti-malware solutions uses traditional signature-based techniques due to it simplicity and efficiency under given constraints. But these techniques are old-school and can be easily circumvented using code obfuscation, dynamic loading, remote triggers etc. Research on improving signature-based techniques have been carried out, frequent update of database with dynamic generation of signatures even for same type of malware with different features. Since smart-phone processing abilities are limited and battery power is constrained there was a need for shifting the processing to cloud based solutions. Even with the high resources available at the cloud, there is also a major requirement to reduce the number of false positives and even more false negatives which is the primary objective.
Manual analysis and malware signature extraction is error-prone and time consuming, given the rapid growth of malware, automatic analysis is the solution in order to generate timely response to detect unseen malware. Various static analysis, dynamic analysis and hybrid approaches have been experimented on with good results, inherent limitations and disadvantages. In all of these efforts for detecting malware, off-device methods are needed to understand malware functionality, to extract the malicious behavior by executing them in a sandbox environment. Differentiation of malware and benign apps is getting complicated day by day with sophisticated features provided by benign apps which were considered as malicious behavior few years back. This has not only complicated the detection methods but also given advantage for the malware authors to circumvent existing detection techniques even without stealth techniques but simply by leveraging the existence of vulnerabilities in benign applications. Hence the malicious application alone is not destructive but combined with a benign application is can execute multiple attacks on the device. Due to the existence of vulnerabilities in benign applications it is also important to not only detect malicious applications but also to detect vulnerabilities and repair them. Vulnerability detection alone is not sufficient since the time period from detection to patch can be an added advantage for the malware authors (which we have seen over the past few years), where they can simply make use of such zero-day vulnerabilities to expose greater threats.
Self-healing or automatic-repair is a new research area in which tools can detect any failure, crash of an application and automatically fix the issue instantly without altering the expected behavior. This is a much needed requirement in order to reduce the impact of zero-day vulnerabilities of benign application which is also a major attribute exploited by most malware applications. The key challenge in automated repair to mobile applications is however, the quality of the patch which should ensure the expected behavior as well as make sure it doesn’t create new vulnerabilities. But as combating malware can be considered as a zero-sum game, providing a temporary solution until the original developers can fix the issue, is an added advantage against malware authors. Above solutions can be categorized as reactive since it requires off-device implementation to assess the threat and provide solutions. Apart from these ad hoc security solutions, Android platform itself has introduced its native security mechanisms to limit the set of dangerous operations that an app can perform. Permissions enforces access control to security critical resources while app isolation avoid interaction or interference with the execution of other applications. However, both mechanisms have shown weaknesses which can overcome such
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