SARA: Secure Android Remote Authorization

Authors: 

Abdullah Imran, Habiba Farrukh, Muhammad Ibrahim, Z. Berkay Celik, and Antonio Bianchi, Purdue University

Abstract: 

Modern smartphones are equipped with Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs), offering security features resilient even against attackers able to fully compromise the normal operating system (e.g., Linux in Android devices). The academic community, as well as the smartphone manufacturers, have proposed to use TEEs to strengthen the security of authorization protocols. However, the usage of these protocols has been hampered by both practicality issues and lack of completeness in terms of security.

To address these issues, in this paper, we design, implement, and evaluate SARA (Secure Android Remote Authorization),an Android library that uses the existing TEE-powered Android APIs to implement secure, end-to-end remote authorization for Android apps. SARA is practical in its design, as it makes use of Android APIs and TEE features that are already present in modern Android devices to implement a novel secure authorization protocol. In fact, SARA does not require any modifications to the Android operating system nor to the code running in TrustZone (the TEE powering existing Android devices). For this reason, it can be readily used in existing apps running on existing smartphones. Moreover, SARA is designed to ensure that even developers that have no experience in implementing security protocols can make use of it within their apps. At the same time, SARA is secure, since it allows implementing authorization protocols that are resilient even against attackers able to achieve root privileges on a compromised Android device.

We first evaluate SARA by conducting a user study to ascertain its usability. Then, we prove SARA's security features by formally verifying its security protocol using ProVerif.

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BibTeX
@inproceedings {279926,
title = {{SARA}: Secure Android Remote Authorization},
booktitle = {31st USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 22)},
year = {2022},
address = {Boston, MA},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/usenixsecurity22/presentation/imran},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug,
}