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CAPEC-501: Android Activity Hijack

Attack Pattern ID: 501
Abstraction: Detailed
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
An adversary intercepts an implicit intent sent to launch a Android-based trusted activity and instead launches a counterfeit activity in its place. The malicious activity is then used to mimic the trusted activity's user interface and prompt the target to enter sensitive data as if they were interacting with the trusted activity.
+ Typical Severity


+ Relationships
Section HelpThis table shows the other attack patterns and high level categories that are related to this attack pattern. These relationships are defined as ChildOf and ParentOf, and give insight to similar items that may exist at higher and lower levels of abstraction. In addition, relationships such as CanFollow, PeerOf, and CanAlsoBe are defined to show similar attack patterns that the user may want to explore.
ChildOfMeta Attack PatternMeta Attack Pattern - A meta level attack pattern in CAPEC is a decidedly abstract characterization of a specific methodology or technique used in an attack. A meta attack pattern is often void of a specific technology or implementation and is meant to provide an understanding of a high level approach. A meta level attack pattern is a generalization of related group of standard level attack patterns. Meta level attack patterns are particularly useful for architecture and design level threat modeling exercises.173Action Spoofing
ChildOfStandard Attack PatternStandard Attack Pattern - A standard level attack pattern in CAPEC is focused on a specific methodology or technique used in an attack. It is often seen as a singular piece of a fully executed attack. A standard attack pattern is meant to provide sufficient details to understand the specific technique and how it attempts to accomplish a desired goal. A standard level attack pattern is a specific type of a more abstract meta level attack pattern.499Android Intent Intercept
Section HelpThis table shows the views that this attack pattern belongs to and top level categories within that view.
+ Execution Flow
  1. Find an android application that uses implicit intents: Since this attack only works on android applications that use implicit intents, rather than explicit intents, an adversary must first identify an app that uses implicit intents to launch an Android-based trusted activity, and what that activity is.

  1. Create a malicious app: The adversary must create a malicious android app meant to intercept implicit intents to launch an Adroid-based trusted activity. This malicious app will mimic the trusted activiy's user interface to get the user to enter sensitive data.

    Specify the type of intent wished to be intercepted in the malicious app's manifest file using an intent filter
  2. Get user to download malicious app: The adversary must get a user using the targeted app to download the malicious app by any means necessary

  1. Gather sensitive data through malicious app: Once the target application sends an implicit intent to launch a trusted activity, the malicious app will be launched instead that looks identical to the interface of that activity. When the user enters sensitive information it will be captured by the malicious app.

    Gather login information from a user using a malicious app
+ Prerequisites
The adversary must have previously installed the malicious application onto the Android device that will run in place of the trusted activity.
+ Skills Required
[Level: High]
The adversary must typically overcome network and host defenses in order to place malware on the system.
+ Resources Required
Malware capable of acting on the adversary's objectives.
+ Consequences
Section HelpThis table specifies different individual consequences associated with the attack pattern. The Scope identifies the security property that is violated, while the Impact describes the negative technical impact that arises if an adversary succeeds in their attack. The Likelihood provides information about how likely the specific consequence is expected to be seen relative to the other consequences in the list. For example, there may be high likelihood that a pattern will be used to achieve a certain impact, but a low likelihood that it will be exploited to achieve a different impact.
Read Data
+ Mitigations
To mitigate this type of an attack, explicit intents should be used whenever sensitive data is being sent. An 'explicit intent' is delivered to a specific application as declared within the intent, whereas an 'implicit intent' is directed to an application as defined by the Android operating system. If an implicit intent must be used, then it should be assumed that the intent will be received by an unknown application and any response should be treated accordingly (i.e., with appropriate security controls).
Never use implicit intents for inter-application communication.
+ References
[REF-427] Erika Chin, Adrienne Porter Felt, Kate Greenwood and David Wagner. "Analyzing Inter-Application Communication in Android". 3.1.2 Activity Hijacking. International Conference on Mobile Systems, Applications, and Services (MobiSys). 2011. <>.
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
2014-06-23CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2018-07-31CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Attack_Motivation-Consequences, Attack_Prerequisites, Attacker_Skills_or_Knowledge_Required, Description Summary, References, Related_Weaknesses, Resources_Required, Solutions_and_Mitigations, Typical_Severity
2019-09-30CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Related_Attack_Patterns
2020-12-17CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated @Name, Description, Prerequisites
2021-10-21CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Execution_Flow
Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
2020-12-17Activity Hijack
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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: October 21, 2021