Keeping Context in Mind: Automating Mobile App Access Control with User Interface Inspection

Hao Fu, Zizhan Zheng, Sencun Zhu, Prasant Mohapatra

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

10 Scopus citations


Recent studies observe that app foreground is the most striking component that influences the access control decisions in mobile platform, as users tend to deny permission requests lacking visible evidence. However, none of the existing permission models provides a systematic approach that can automatically answer the question: Is the resource access indicated by app foreground?In this work, we present the design, implementation, and evaluation of COSMOS, a context-aware mediation system that bridges the semantic gap between foreground interaction and background access, in order to protect system integrity and user privacy. Specifically, COSMOS learns from a large set of apps with similar functionalities and user interfaces to construct generic models that detect the outliers at runtime. It can be further customized to satisfy specific user privacy preference by continuously evolving with user decisions. Experiments show that COSMOS achieves both high precision and high recall in detecting malicious requests. We also demonstrate the effectiveness of COSMOS in capturing specific user preferences using the decisions collected from 24 users and illustrate that COSMOS can be easily deployed on smartphones as a real-time guard with a very low performance overhead.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationINFOCOM 2019 - IEEE Conference on Computer Communications
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781728105154
StatePublished - Apr 2019
Event2019 IEEE Conference on Computer Communications, INFOCOM 2019 - Paris, France
Duration: Apr 29 2019May 2 2019

Publication series

NameProceedings - IEEE INFOCOM
ISSN (Print)0743-166X


Conference2019 IEEE Conference on Computer Communications, INFOCOM 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Computer Science
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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