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McCormick in the Media

Android Antiviral Research Featured on Tech News Daily, UPI, Others

Study shows today’s most popular Android antiviral products susceptible to attacks

As the Android software on many of today’s smartphones and tablets becomes more advanced, one might assume the antivirus technology protecting it will keep up. But according to a new study by Northwestern University researchers, that is not necessarily the case.  

Yan ChenCo-authored by Yan Chen, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, the study examined 10 of today’s most popular antiviral products for Android systems and discovered each could be easily bypassed using only minor viral camouflage techniques. 

A paper about the research, “Evaluating Android Anti-Malware Against Transformation Attacks,” was presented in May at the 8th ACM Symposium on Information, Computer and Communications Security (ASIACCS 2013). It has since been profiled by Tech News Daily, United Press International (UPI), and Slashdot.

For the study, Chen and fellow researchers created a tool called DroidChameleon, a program that developed dozens of slightly different versions of six known Android viruses.These altered viruses were then tested on the 10 antiviral products. Though the antiviral programs showed varying levels of being compromised by attacks, the researchers determined all of the antiviral products could be evaded using the DroidChameleon techniques.

“The results are quite surprising,” Chen said. “Many of these products are blind to even trivial transformation attacks not involving code-level changes – operations a teenager could perform.”