Union under Duress: Understanding Hazards of Duplicate Resource Mismediation in Android Software Supply Chain


Xueqiang Wang, University of Central Florida; Yifan Zhang and XiaoFeng Wang, Indiana University Bloomington; Yan Jia, Nankai University; Luyi Xing, Indiana University Bloomington


Malicious third-party libraries have become a major source of security risks to the Android software supply chain. A recent study shows that a malicious library could harvest data from other libraries hosted in the same app via unauthorized API accesses. However, it is unclear whether third-party libraries could still pose a threat to other libraries after their code and APIs are thoroughly vetted for security.

A third-party Android library often contains diverse resources to support its operations. These resources, along with resources from other libraries, are managed by the Android resource compiler (ARC) during the app build process. ARC needs to mediate the resources in case multiple libraries have duplicate resources.

In this paper, we report a new attack surface on the Android app supply chain: duplicate resource mismediation (Duress). This attack surface provides an opportunity for attackers to contaminate security- and privacy-sensitive resources of a victim library by exploiting ARC, using duplicate resources in malicious libraries. Our attack cases demonstrate that with several effective attack strategies, an attacker can stealthily mislead the victim library and its users to expose sensitive data, and lower down the security protections, etc. Further, we conduct the first systematic study to understand the impacts of Duress risks. Our study has brought to light the pervasiveness of the Duress risks in third-party libraries: an analysis of over 23K libraries and 150K apps discovered that 18.4% libraries have sensitive resources that are exposed to Duress risks, 25.7% libraries have duplicate sensitive resources with other libraries, i.e., integration risks, and over 400 apps in the wild are affected by potential occurrences of Duress, etc. To mitigate the risks, we discuss a lightweight and compile-time resource isolation method to prevent malicious libraries from contaminating the sensitive resources of other libraries.

Open Access Media

USENIX is committed to Open Access to the research presented at our events. Papers and proceedings are freely available to everyone once the event begins. Any video, audio, and/or slides that are posted after the event are also free and open to everyone. Support USENIX and our commitment to Open Access.

@inproceedings {291037,
author = {Xueqiang Wang and Yifan Zhang and XiaoFeng Wang and Yan Jia and Luyi Xing},
title = {Union under Duress: Understanding Hazards of Duplicate Resource Mismediation in Android Software Supply Chain},
booktitle = {32nd USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 23)},
year = {2023},
isbn = {978-1-939133-37-3},
address = {Anaheim, CA},
pages = {3403--3420},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/usenixsecurity23/presentation/wang-xueqiang-duress},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

Presentation Video