Monitoring Android for Collaborative Anomaly Detection: A First Architectural Draft


Our daily lives become more and more dependent upon smartphones due to their increased capabilities. Smartphones are used in various ways, e.g. for payment systems or assisting the lives of elderly or disabled people. Security threats for these devices become more and more dangerous since there is still a lack of proper security tools for protection. Android emerges as an open smartphone platform which allows modification even on operating system level and where third-party developers first time have the opportunity to develop kernel-based low-level security tools. Android quickly gained its popularity among smartphone developers and even beyond since it bases on Java on top of "open" Linux in comparison to former proprietary platforms which have very restrictive SDKs and corresponding APIs. Symbian OS, holding the greatest market share among all smartphone OSs, was even closing critical APIs to common developers and introduced application certification. This was done since this OS was the main target for smartphone malwares in the past. In fact, more than 290 malwares designed for Symbian OS appeared from July 2004 to July 2008. Android, in turn, promises to be completely open source. Together with the Linux-based smartphone OS OpenMoko, open smartphone platforms may attract malware writers for creating malicious applications endangering the critical smartphone applications and owners’ privacy. Since signature-based approaches mainly detect known malwares, anomaly-based approaches can be a valuable addition to these systems. They base on mathematical algorithms processing data that describe the state of a certain device. For gaining this data, a monitoring client is needed that has to extract “usable” information (features) from the monitored system. Our approach follows a dual system for analyzing these features. On the one hand, functionality for on-device light-weight detection is provided. But since most algorithms are resource exhaustive, remote feature analysis is provided on the other hand. Having this dual system enables event-based detection that can react to the current detection need. In our ongoing research we aim to investigates the feasibility of light-weight on-device detection for certain occasions. On other occasions, whenever significant changes are detected on the device, the system can trigger remote detection with heavy-weight algorithms for better detection results. In the absence of the server respectively as a supplementary approach, we also consider a collaborative scenario. Here, mobile devices sharing a common objective are enabled by a collaboration module to share information, such as intrusion detection data and results. This is based on an ad-hoc network mode that can be provided by a WiFi or Bluetooth adapter nearly every smartphone possesses.

author = {Aubrey-Derrick Schmidt and Rainer Bye and Hans-Gunther Schmidt and Kamer Ali Yüksel and Osman Kiraz and Jan Clausen and Karsten Raddatz and Ahmet Camtepe and Sahin Albayrak},
title = {Monitoring Android for Collaborative Anomaly Detection: A First Architectural Draft},
institution = {Technische Universit{"a}t Berlin - DAI-Labor},
year = {2008},
number = {TUB-DAI 08/08-02},
month = {~#aug#},
note = {url{}}
Aubrey-Derrick Schmidt, Rainer Bye, Hans-Gunther Schmidt, Kamer Ali Yüksel, Osman Kiraz, Jan Hendrik Clausen, Karsten Raddatz, Seyit Ahmet Camtepe, Sahin Albayrak
Technical Report