DroidCap: OS Support for Capability-based Permissions in Android

Dawoud, Abdallah and Bugiel, Sven
(2019) DroidCap: OS Support for Capability-based Permissions in Android.
In: NDSS Symposium 2019.
Conference: NDSS Network and Distributed System Security Symposium


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We present DroidCap, a retrofitting of Android’s central Binder IPC mechanism to change the way how permissions are being represented and managed in the system. In DroidCap, permissions are per-process Binder object capabilities. DroidCap's design removes Android’s UID-based ambient authority and allows the delegation of capabilities between processes to create least-privileged protection domains efficiently. With DroidCap, we show that object capabilities as underlying access control model integrates naturally and backward-compatible into Android’s stock permission model and application management. Thus, our Binder capabilities provide app developers with a new path to gradually adopting app compartmentalization, which we showcase at two favorite examples from the literature, privilege separated advertisement libraries and least privileged app components.


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