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Explaining Black-box Android Malware Detection

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Machine-learning models have been recently used for detecting malicious Android applications, reporting impressive performances on benchmark datasets, even when trained only on features statically extracted from the application, such as system calls and permissions. However, recent findings have highlighted the fragility of such in-vitro evaluations with benchmark datasets, showing that very few changes to the content of Android malware may suffice to evade detection. How can we thus trust that a malware detector performing well on benchmark data will continue to do so when deployed in an operating environment? To mitigate this issue, the most popular Android malware detectors use linear, explainable machine-learning models to easily identify the most influential features contributing to each decision. In this work, we generalize this approach to any black-box machine- learning model, by leveraging a gradient-based approach to identify the most influential local features. This enables using nonlinear models to potentially increase accuracy without sacrificing interpretability of decisions. Our approach also highlights the global characteristics learned by the model to discriminate between benign and malware applications. Finally, as shown by our empirical analysis on a popular Android malware detection task, it also helps identifying potential vulnerabilities of linear and nonlinear models against adversarial manipulations.


MaMaDroid: Detecting Android Malware by Building Markov Chains of Behavioral Models (Extended Version)

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

As Android has become increasingly popular, so has malware targeting it, thus pushing the research community to propose different detection techniques. However, the constant evolution of the Android ecosystem, and of malware itself, makes it hard to design robust tools that can operate for long periods of time without the need for modifications or costly re-training. Aiming to address this issue, we set to detect malware from a behavioral point of view, modeled as the sequence of abstracted API calls. We introduce MaMaDroid, a static-analysis based system that abstracts the API calls performed by an app to their class, package, or family, and builds a model from their sequences obtained from the call graph of an app as Markov chains. This ensures that the model is more resilient to API changes and the features set is of manageable size. We evaluate MaMaDroid using a dataset of 8.5K benign and 35.5K malicious apps collected over a period of six years, showing that it effectively detects malware (with up to 0.99 F-measure) and keeps its detection capabilities for long periods of time (up to 0.87 F-measure two years after training). We also show that MaMaDroid remarkably outperforms DroidAPIMiner, a state-of-the-art detection system that relies on the frequency of (raw) API calls. Aiming to assess whether MaMaDroid's effectiveness mainly stems from the API abstraction or from the sequencing modeling, we also evaluate a variant of it that uses frequency (instead of sequences), of abstracted API calls. We find that it is not as accurate, failing to capture maliciousness when trained on malware samples that include API calls that are equally or more frequently used by benign apps.


A Review on The Use of Deep Learning in Android Malware Detection

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Android is the predominant mobile operating system for the past few years. The prevalence of devices that can be powered by Android magnetized not merely application developers but also malware developers with criminal intention to design and spread malicious applications that can affect the normal work of Android phones and tablets, steal personal information and credential data, or even worse lock the phone and ask for ransom. Researchers persistently devise countermeasures strategies to fight back malware. One of these strategies applied in the past five years is the use of deep learning methods in Android malware detection. This necessitates a review to inspect the accomplished work in order to know where the endeavors have been established, identify unresolved problems, and motivate future research directions. In this work, an extensive survey of static analysis, dynamic analysis, and hybrid analysis that utilized deep learning methods are reviewed with an elaborated discussion on their key concepts, contributions, and limitations.


FeatureAnalytics: An approach to derive relevant attributes for analyzing Android Malware

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Ever increasing number of Android malware, has always been a concern for cybersecurity professionals. Even though plenty of anti-malware solutions exist, a rational and pragmatic approach for the same is rare and has to be inspected further. In this paper, we propose a novel two-set feature selection approach based on Rough Set and Statistical Test named as RSST to extract relevant system calls. To address the problem of higher dimensional attribute set, we derived suboptimal system call space by applying the proposed feature selection method to maximize the separability between malware and benign samples. Comprehensive experiments conducted on a dataset consisting of 3500 samples with 30 RSST derived essential system calls resulted in an accuracy of 99.9%, Area Under Curve (AUC) of 1.0, with 1% False Positive Rate (FPR). However, other feature selectors (Information Gain, CFsSubsetEval, ChiSquare, FreqSel and Symmetric Uncertainty) used in the domain of malware analysis resulted in the accuracy of 95.5% with 8.5% FPR. Besides, empirical analysis of RSST derived system calls outperform other attributes such as permissions, opcodes, API, methods, call graphs, Droidbox attributes and network traces.


An investigation of the classifiers to detect android malicious apps

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Android devices are growing exponentially and are connected through the internet accessing billion of online websites. The popularity of these devices encourages malware developer to penetrate the market with malicious apps to annoy and disrupt the victim. Although, for the detection of malicious apps different approaches are discussed. However, proposed approaches are not suffice to detect the advanced malware to limit/prevent the damages. In this, very few approaches are based on opcode occurrence to classify the malicious apps. Therefore, this paper investigates the five classifiers using opcodes occurrence as the prominent features for the detection of malicious apps. For the analysis, we use WEKA tool and found that FT detection accuracy ( 79.27%) is best among the investigated classifiers. However, true positives rate i.e. malware detection rate is highest ( 99.91%) by RF and fluctuate least with the different number of prominent features compared to other studied classifiers. The analysis shows that overall accuracy is majorly affected by the false positives of the classifier.