FReD: Identifying File Re-Delegation in Android System Services


Sigmund Albert Gorski III, Seaver Thorn, and William Enck, North Carolina State University; Haining Chen, Google


The security of the Android platform benefits greatly from a privileged middleware that provides indirect access to protected resources. This architecture is further enhanced by privilege separating functionality into many different services and carefully tuning file access control policy to mitigate the impact of software vulnerabilities. However, these services can become confused deputies if they improperly re-delegate file access to third-party applications through remote procedure call (RPC) interfaces. In this paper, we propose a static program analysis tool called FReD, which identifies a mapping between Java-based system service RPC interfaces and the file paths opened within the Java and C/C++ portions of the service. It then combines the Linux-layer file access control policy with the Android-layer permission policy to identify potential file re-delegation. We use FReD to analyze three devices running Android 10 and identify 12 confused deputies that are accessible from third-party applications. These vulnerabilities include five CVEs with moderate severity, demonstrating the utility of semi-automated approaches to discover subtle flaws in access control enforcement.

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@inproceedings {277174,
author = {Sigmund Albert Gorski III and Seaver Thorn and William Enck and Haining Chen},
title = {{FReD}: Identifying File {Re-Delegation} in Android System Services},
booktitle = {31st USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 22)},
year = {2022},
isbn = {978-1-939133-31-1},
address = {Boston, MA},
pages = {1525--1542},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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