Although millions of users download and use third-party Android applications from the Google Play store, little information is known on an aggregated level about these applications. We have built PlayDrone, the first scalable Google Play store crawler, and used it to index and analyze over 1,100,000 applications in the Google Play store on a daily basis, the largest such index of Android applications. PlayDrone leverages various hacking techniques to circumvent Google’s roadblocks for indexing Google Play store content, and makes proprietary application sources available, including source code for over 880,000 free applications. We demonstrate the usefulness of PlayDrone in decompiling and analyzing application content by exploring four previously unaddressed issues: the characterization of Google Play application content at large scale and its evolution over time, library usage in applications and its impact on application portability, duplicative application content in Google Play, and the ineffectiveness of OAuth and related service authentication mechanisms resulting in malicious users being able to easily gain unauthorized access to user data and resources on Amazon Web Services and Facebook.
Slides are available here.
Our study appears in the Sigmetrics’14 conference and received the outstanding student paper award.
You can download the paper here.
- Columbia Engineering Stars at Sigmetrics 2014
- Columbia Engineering Team Finds Thousands of Secret Keys in Android Apps
The sources are located at https://github.com/nviennot/playdrone. Have fun with it :)