Leave my apps alone!: a study on how Android developers access installed apps on user's device
- Conference Paper
To enable app interoperability, the Android platform exposes installed application methods (IAMs), i.e., APIs that allow developers to query for the list of apps installed on a user's device. It is known that information collected through IAMs can be used to precisely deduce end-users interests and personal traits, thus raising privacy concerns. In this paper, we present a large-scale empirical study investigating the presence of IAMs in Android apps and their usage by Android developers. Our results highlight that: (i) IAMs are widely used in commercial applications while their popularity is limited in open-source ones; (ii) IAM calls are mostly performed in included libraries code; (iii) more than one-third of libraries that employ IAMs are advertisement libraries; (iv) a small number of popular advertisement libraries account for over 33% of all usages of IAMs by bundled libraries; (v) developers are not always aware that their apps include IAMs calls. Based on the collected data, we confirm the need to (i) revise the way IAMs are currently managed by the Android platform, introducing either an ad-hoc permission or an opt-out mechanism and (ii) improve both developers and end-users awareness with respect to the privacy-related concerns raised by IAMs. © 2020 Association for Computing Machinery. Show more
Book titleMOBILESoft '20: Proceedings of the IEEE/ACM 7th International Conference on Mobile Software Engineering and Systems
Pages / Article No.
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
SubjectAndroid; Apps; Privacy
Organisational unit09721 - Razavi, Kaveh / Razavi, Kaveh
NotesDue to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) the conference was conducted virtually.
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