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Improving Taint Analysis of Android Applications Using Finite State Machines

Authors: Assad Maalouf, Lunjin Lu, James Lynott


We present a taint analysis that can automatically detect when string operations result in a string that is free of taints, where all the tainted patterns have been removed. This is an improvement on the conservative behavior of previous taint analyzers, where a string operation on a tainted string always leads to a tainted string unless the operation is manually marked as a sanitizer. The taint analysis is built on top of a string analysis that uses finite state automata to approximate the sets of values that string variables can take during the execution of a program. The proposed approach has been implemented as an extension of FlowDroid and experimental results show that the resulting taint analyzer is much more precise than the original FlowDroid.

Keywords: Android, static analysis, string analysis, taint analysis.

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