ROOTS 2018: How Android’s UI Security is Undermined by Accessibility – Anatoli Kalysch
Android’s accessibility API was designed to assist users with disabilities, or temporarily preoccupied users unable to interact with a device, e.g., while driving a car. Nowadays, many Android apps rely on the accessibility API for other purposes, including apps like password managers but also malware. From a security perspective, the accessibility API is precarious as it undermines an otherwise strong principle of sandboxing in Android that separates apps. By means of an accessibility service, apps can interact with the UI elements of another app, including reading from its screen and writing to its text fields. As a consequence, design shortcomings in the accessibility API and other UI features such as overlays have grave security implications. This talk will provide a critical perspective on the current state of Android accessibility and selected UI security features.