Publication details

A Longitudinal Study of Cryptographic API: a Decade of Android Malware

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Year of publication 2022
Type Article in Proceedings
Conference Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Security and Cryptography
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Informatics

Keywords Cryptographic API; Malware; Android; Malware Detection
Description Cryptography has been extensively used in Android applications to guarantee secure communications, conceal critical data from reverse engineering, or ensure mobile users’ privacy. Various system-based and third-party libraries for Android provide cryptographic functionalities, and previous works mainly explored the misuse of cryptographic API in benign applications. However, the role of cryptographic API has not yet been explored in Android malware. This paper performs a comprehensive, longitudinal analysis of cryptographic API in Android malware. In particular, we analyzed 603937 Android applications (half of them malicious, half benign) released between 2012 and 2020, gathering more than 1 million cryptographic API expressions. Our results reveal intriguing trends and insights on how and why cryptography is employed in Android malware. For instance, we point out the widespread use of weak hash functions and the late transition from insecure DES to AES. Additionally, we show that cryptography-related characteristics can help to improve the performance of learning-based systems in detecting malicious applications.
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