Towards discovering and understanding task hijacking in android

Chuangang Ren, Yulong Zhang, Hui Xue, Tao Wei, Peng Liu

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

70 Scopus citations


Android multitasking provides rich features to enhance user experience and offers great flexibility for app developers to promote app personalization. However, the security implication of Android multitasking remains under-investigated. With a systematic study of the complex tasks dynamics, we find design flaws of Android multitasking which make all recent versions of Android vulnerable to task hijacking attacks. We demonstrate proof-of-concept examples utilizing the task hijacking attack surface to implement UI spoofing, denial-of-service and user monitoring attacks. Attackers may steal login credentials, implement ransomware and spy on user’s activities. We have collected and analyzed over 6.8 million apps from various Android markets. Our analysis shows that the task hijacking risk is prevalent. Since many apps depend on the current multitasking design, defeating task hijacking is not easy. We have notified the Android team about these issues and we discuss possible mitigation techniques in this paper.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 24th USENIX Security Symposium
PublisherUSENIX Association
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781931971232
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Event24th USENIX Security Symposium - Washington, United States
Duration: Aug 12 2015Aug 14 2015

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 24th USENIX Security Symposium


Conference24th USENIX Security Symposium
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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