Analyzing use of high privileges on android: an empirical case study of screenshot and screen recording applications

Mark H. Meng, Guangdong Bai, Joseph K. Liu, Xiapu Luo, Yu Wang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearch


The number of Android smartphone and tablet users has experienced a rapid growth in the past few years and it raises users’ awareness on privacy and security issues of their mobile devices. There are lots of users rooting their Android devices for some useful functions, which are not originally provided to developers and users, such as taking screenshot and screen recording. However, after observing the danger of rooting devices, the developers begin to look for non-root alternatives to implement those functions. Android Debug Bridge (ADB) workaround is one of the best known non-root alternatives to help app gain a higher privilege on Android. It used to be considered as a secure practice until some cases of ADB privilege leakage have been found. In this paper, we propose an approach to identify the potential privilege leakage in Android apps that using ADB workaround. We apply our approach to analyze three real-world apps that are downloaded from Google Play Store. We then present a general methodology to conduct exploitation on those apps using ADB workaround. Based on our study, we suggest some mitigation techniques to help developers create their apps that not only satisfy users’ needs but also protect users’ privacy from similar attacks in future.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInformation Security and Cryptology
Subtitle of host publication14th International Conference, Inscrypt 2018 Fuzhou, China, December 14–17, 2018 Revised Selected Papers
EditorsFuchun Guo, Xinyi Huang, Moti Yung
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9783030142346
ISBN (Print)9783030142339
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventInternational Conference on Information Security and Cryptology (Inscript) 2018 - Fuzhou, China
Duration: 14 Dec 201817 Dec 2018
Conference number: 14th (Proceedings)

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


ConferenceInternational Conference on Information Security and Cryptology (Inscript) 2018
Abbreviated titleInscrypt 2018
Internet address


  • ADB workaround
  • Android security
  • Application analysis
  • Exploit
  • Privilege escalation

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