That Doesn't Go There: Attacks on Shared State in Multi-User Augmented Reality Applications


Carter Slocum, Yicheng Zhang, Erfan Shayegani, Pedram Zaree, and Nael Abu-Ghazaleh, University of California, Riverside; Jiasi Chen, University of Michigan


Augmented Reality (AR) can enable shared virtual experiences between multiple users. In order to do so, it is crucial for multi-user AR applications to establish a consensus on the "shared state" of the virtual world and its augmentations through which users interact. Current methods to create and access shared state collect sensor data from devices (e.g., camera images), process them, and integrate them into the shared state. However, this process introduces new vulnerabilities and opportunities for attacks. Maliciously writing false data to "poison" the shared state is a major concern for the security of the downstream victims that depend on it. Another type of vulnerability arises when reading the shared state: by providing false inputs, an attacker can view hologram augmentations at locations they are not allowed to access. In this work, we demonstrate a series of novel attacks on multiple AR frameworks with shared states, focusing on three publicly accessible frameworks. We show that these frameworks, while using different underlying implementations, scopes, and mechanisms to read from and write to the shared state, have shared vulnerability to a unified threat model. Our evaluations of these state-of-the-art AR frameworks demonstrate reliable attacks both on updating and accessing the shared state across different systems. To defend against such threats, we discuss a number of potential mitigation strategies that can help enhance the security of multi-user AR applications and implement an initial prototype.

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