Hunting Password Leaks in Android Applications

Johannes Feichtner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperpeer-review


A wide range of mobile applications for the Android operating system require users to input sensitive data, such as PINs or passwords. Given the ubiquitous and security-critical role of credentials, it is paramount that programs process secrets responsibly and do not expose them to unrelated parties. Unfortunately, users have no insight into what happens with their data after entrusting it to an application. In this paper, we introduce a new approach to identify and follow the trace of user input right from the point where it enters an application. By using a combination of static slicing in forward and backward direction, we are able to reveal potential data leaks and can pinpoint their origin. To evaluate the applicability of our solution, we conducted a manual and automated inspection of security-related Android applications that process user-entered secrets. We find that 182 out of 509 (36%) applications insecurely store given credentials in files or pass them to a log output.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationICT Systems Security and Privacy Protection
EditorsLech Jan Janczewski, Mirosław Kutyłowski
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer International Publishing AG
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-99828-2
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-99827-5
Publication statusPublished - 2018
33rd IFIP TC-11 SEC 2018 International Conference on Information Security and Privacy Protection
- Poznań, Poland
Duration: 18 Sept 201820 Sept 2018


33rd IFIP TC-11 SEC 2018 International Conference on Information Security and Privacy Protection
Abbreviated titleIFIP SEC 2018


  • Android security
  • Password input
  • Static analysis
  • A-SIT - Secure Information Technology Center Austria

    Stranacher, K., Dominikus, S., Leitold, H., Marsalek, A., Teufl, P., Bauer, W., Aigner, M. J., Rössler, T., Neuherz, E., Dietrich, K., Zefferer, T., Mangard, S., Payer, U., Orthacker, C., Lipp, P., Reiter, A., Knall, T., Bratko, H., Bonato, M., Suzic, B., Zwattendorfer, B., Kreuzhuber, S., Oswald, M. E., Tauber, A., Posch, R., Bratko, D., Feichtner, J., Ivkovic, M., Reimair, F., Wolkerstorfer, J. & Scheibelhofer, K.


    Project: Research area

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