By James Sellwood and Jason Crampton
A weakness in the permissions architecture of the Android platform means that apps could gain access to functionality without a user’s knowledge or consent, leaving them open to exploitation or abuse by attackers.
Changes to the way the Android platform authorises permission requests could compromise the security of unwary users.
Since the first commercial device was made available in October 2008, the Android platform has enjoyed a meteoric rise. In those four years it has grown to hold the greatest market share among many of the world’s most significant smartphone markets.
Competing head to head with Apple’s iOS platform, the two operating systems are used in the vast majority of the world’s smartphones.
The Android platform has evolved considerably since its introduction. Since 2008, there have been 25 platform version releases – the latest being 4.2.1 – introducing 17 different API levels in that time.
These releases have introduced numerous new features and, as one might expect nowadays, they have also included various bug fixes and security patches.
One area of the Android platform has undergone continued development in that time and has received close scrutiny due to its significant security role and noticeable disparity from similar mechanisms on other platforms.
The area in question is the Android permission architecture.
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Royal Holloway Information Security Thesis Series