GUI-Squatting attack: automated generation of Android phishing apps

Sen Chen, Lingling Fan, Chunyang Chen, Minhui Xue, Yang Liu, Lihua Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Mobile phishing attacks, such as mimic mobile browser pages, masquerade as legitimate applications by leveraging repackaging or clone techniques, have caused varied yet significant security concerns. Consequently, detection techniques have been receiving increasing attention. However, many such detection methods are not well tested and may therefore still be vulnerable to new types of phishing attacks. In this paper, we propose a new attacking technique, named GUI-Squatting attack, which can generate phishing apps (phapps) automatically and effectively. Our method adopts image processing and deep learning algorithms, to enable powerful and large-scale attacks. We observe that a successful phishing attack requires two conditions, page confusion and logic deception during attacks synthesis. We directly optimize these two conditions to create a practical attack. Our experimental results reveal that existing phishing defenses are less effective against such emergent attacks and may therefore stimulate more efficient detection techniques. To further demonstrate that our generated phapps can not only bypass existing detection techniques, but also deceive real users, we conduct a human study and successfully steal users' login information. The human study also shows that different response messages after pressing the login button mislead users to regard phapps as functionality problems instead of security threats.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalIEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2019

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