Checklist and Methodology

This guide provides a detailed checklist for Android mobile application penetration testing.


Static Analysis

Static analysis involves inspecting the app's code and configuration without running it. It checks for coding and design issues that may lead to security vulnerabilities.

App Package Structure Analysis:

  • Analyse the APK file with tools such as APKTool, Jadx, or similar.

  • Look for embedded secrets, such as API keys, in the decompiled code.

  • Review the AndroidManifest.xml for sensitive data or misconfigurations.

Insecure Data Storage:

  • Check shared preferences for sensitive data stored in clear text.

  • Check SQLite databases for sensitive data.

  • Review the internal & external storage directories for insecurely stored data.

Reverse Engineering and Code Analysis:

  • Use tools such as Jadx or JD-GUI to decompile the APK and analyze the source code.

  • Check for hard-coded secrets, insecure functions, or insecure implementations.

App Permissions:

  • Review the permissions requested by the app.

  • Check if the app requests more permissions than necessary.

Additional points:

  • Check if the app has any mechanisms to detect if the device is rooted or jailbroken.

  • Verify if the app has proper error handling, ensuring it doesn't reveal sensitive information when errors occur.

  • Check the resiliency against reverse engineering and tampering by using tools like Objection or APKtool.

Dynamic Analysis

Dynamic analysis involves testing the app while it is running. It helps to identify security vulnerabilities at runtime, interactions with the environment, and user input handling issues.

Network Analysis:

  • Use Wireshark or similar tools to analyze network traffic.

  • Check if the app is transmitting sensitive data in plain text over the network.

  • Verify if the app is implementing certificate pinning to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks.

Log Analysis:

  • Use Logcat to collect system logs and analyze them for sensitive data leakage.

Runtime Analysis:

  • Use Frida, Xposed, or similar frameworks to hook into the app's methods during runtime for dynamic analysis.

  • Test the app's behavior and response to certain inputs or manipulated environment variables.

Authentication Mechanisms:

  • Check for user enumeration vulnerabilities.

  • Verify if the app uses secure protocols during authentication.

  • Check for weak password policies.

Session Management:

  • Check if sessions expire appropriately.

  • Check if the app handles multiple simultaneous sessions correctly.

Data Encryption:

  • Verify if data at rest is encrypted.

  • Check if data in transit is encrypted.

Additional points:

  • Verify if the app has proper error handling, ensuring it doesn't reveal sensitive information when errors occur.

Remember, the above points form a general checklist, and testing methods might change based on the app's functionality, architecture, and the kind of data it handles.



  1. Setup Testing Environment

    • Prepare a suitable testing environment, which can be an actual Android device or an Android emulator like Genymotion.

  2. Install and Configure Necessary Tools

    • ADB (Android Debug Bridge)

    • APKTool

    • JADX

    • Burp Suite

    • Drozer

    • dex2jar

    • JD-GUI

    • tcpdump

    • Wireshark

    • Frida

    • Objection

    • scrcpy - Mirror and control your phone screen using AD

  3. Obtain the .APK file

    1. Have the client send you the .apk file

    2. Download it direct to the target device via the google play store

    3. Use a 3rd party to retrieve the .apk file from the google play store, such as

If using Android Studio, you can fire up a rooted AV using

c: > AppData\Local\Android\Sdk\emulator\emulator.exe -avd <AVD-name-here> -writable-system -selinux disabled -qemu

Also, you can use ADB from windows with:

c: > AppData\Local\Android\Sdk\platform-tools\adb.exe

Static Analysis

  1. Obtain the APK File

    • Use ADB command to pull the APK file from the device if the app is already installed.

    adb shell pm path com.example.package
    adb pull /data/app/com.example.package-1/base.apk

    or simply use the .apk file provided by the client (or downloaded from google play store)

  2. Decompile the APK File

    • Use APKTool for decompiling the APK to view and analyze the source code.

    apktool d base.apk
  3. Review the Source Code

    • Use JADX to convert .dex files to .java files for easy code review.

    jadx -d output_dir base.apk
  4. Check for Hardcoded Sensitive Information

    • Search for sensitive data (like API keys, credentials) that should not be hardcoded into the app.

    when checking for hardcoded sensitive information, you would typically search for things like API keys, credentials, secret tokens, and other sensitive information that is hardcoded into the application. This can often be done by manually reviewing the source code or using a tool to search through the codebase.

    Here's an example of how you might do it with grep, a command-line tool available in Unix-like systems:

    grep -ri "API_KEY" /path/to/source/code
    grep -ri "password" /path/to/source/code

    In this example, -r means recursive (searching through all directories and files), -i means case insensitive, and "API_KEY" or "password" is the string you're searching for.

    This command would search through the given path for any instance of the strings "API_KEY" or "password". If the codebase is large, this might produce a lot of output, so you might need to refine your search terms or use more advanced options.

    You might also search for common terms that might indicate sensitive information, such as "secret", "token", "key", "admin", "user", "login", "credential", etc. This can be done in a 1 liner:

    ssearch_dir="/path/to/decompiled_apk/" && keyword_list=("API_KEY" "SECRET_KEY" "PASSWORD" "USERNAME" "AUTH_TOKEN" "ACCESS_TOKEN" "PRIVATE_KEY" "DATABASE_PASSWORD" "CREDENTIALS" "API_SECRET" "API_TOKEN" "CLIENT_SECRET" "CLIENT_ID" "AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID" "AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY" "TOKEN" "OAUTH" "AUTHENTICATION_KEY" "SIGNING_KEY" "SALT" "ENCRYPTION_KEY" "CRYPTO_KEY" "SSL_KEY" "CERTIFICATE" "PASSPHRASE" "DATABASE_URL" "DATABASE_NAME" "DATABASE_USERNAME" "DATABASE_PASSWORD" "SMTP_USERNAME" "SMTP_PASSWORD" "SMTP_HOST" "SMTP_PORT" "MAIL_USERNAME" "MAIL_PASSWORD" "MAIL_SERVER" "MAIL_PORT"); for keyword in "${keyword_list[@]}"; do find "$search_dir" -type f -exec grep -i "$keyword" {} + >> hardcoded_search_"$keyword".txt; done; find "$search_dir" -type f -name "hardcoded_search_*.txt" -size 0 -delete

    Remember, this is just a basic example and may not catch every instance of hardcoded sensitive information.

  5. Check for Insecure Storage

  • Identify if the app is storing sensitive data insecurely on the device (like shared preferences, SQLite databases, internal and external storage). when checking for insecure storage, you would typically look for places where sensitive data might be stored insecurely. This can include shared preferences, SQLite databases, internal storage, external storage, and so on.

    Here are some examples in markdown format on how you might perform these checks:

    1. Check Shared Preferences

      • Shared Preferences in Android are often used to store small amounts of user data. They can be accessed in shell via ADB.

      adb shell run-as com.example.package cat shared_prefs/com.example.package_preferences.xml
    2. Check SQLite Databases

      • Many Android apps use SQLite databases for storing data. They can be accessed in shell via ADB.

      adb shell run-as com.example.package sqlite3 databases/database.db .dump
    3. Check Internal Storage

      • Apps may also store data in internal storage. This storage is private by default, but you should still check it.

      adb shell run-as com.example.package ls files/
      adb shell run-as com.example.package cat files/file.txt
    4. Check External Storage

      • External storage is world-readable, and so sensitive data should not be stored here.

      adb shell ls /sdcard/Android/data/com.example.package/
      adb shell cat /sdcard/Android/data/com.example.package/file.txt

    Remember that this is only a basic guide and actual paths can vary. You should look for any sensitive information that is being stored insecurely, such as usernames, passwords, tokens, private keys, credit card numbers, and so on. Also, consider the security implications of the permissions required by these storage methods.

  1. Convert .dex Files to .jar Files

  • Use dex2jar tool for conversion and then JD-GUI for viewing the source code.

You can download .zip file with .sh and .bat files here

Unzip it and use like this:

sh -f -o output_jar.jar apk_to_decompile.apk base.apk
  1. Identify and Understand Usage of Native Libraries

  • Check if the app uses native libraries, and if so, how they are used and how they could potentially be exploited.

in Android, native libraries are typically included as part of an APK file and are used to run code written in languages like C or C++. These libraries often contain the core functionalities of an app. However, they can be a point of concern from a security standpoint, as they are prone to common memory corruption vulnerabilities that can lead to serious exploits.

Here's how you can approach identifying and understanding the usage of native libraries:

  1. Identify Native Libraries

    • Extract the APK file and look for .so (shared object) files. These are the native libraries. You can use the unzip command to extract APK files.

    unzip base.apk
  2. Analyze the Native Libraries

    • Tools like readelf and objdump can be used to understand more about the binary. For instance, readelf can be used to list the symbols used by the binary.

    readelf -Ws /path/to/your/
    • objdump can be used to disassemble the binary.

    objdump -D /path/to/your/
  3. Reverse Engineer the Native Libraries

    • Tools like IDA Pro, radare2, or Ghidra can be used to reverse engineer the native libraries. This can help you understand what the code is doing.

  4. Look for Common Vulnerabilities

    • When analysing native libraries, you should look for common vulnerabilities such as buffer overflows, format string vulnerabilities, and integer overflows. These are common in code written in languages like C and C++.

Certificate Pinning

While there's not a specific setting in the app you can check, you can inspect the app's code or configuration files to see if certificate pinning is being used. Here's how you can do it:

  1. Inspect the network security configuration: In Android 7.0 (API level 24) and later, you can configure how your app trusts custom CAs by adding a network security configuration file to your app. The file resides in the res/xml directory and is pointed to by the android:networkSecurityConfig attribute in the application tag in the manifest. If the app has this file, check it for any <pin-set> entries, which suggest the use of certificate pinning.

  2. Decompile the APK: Tools like jadx or apktool can decompile the APK file to inspect its source code. Look for uses of classes or methods related to certificate pinning. For example, in OkHttp library, CertificatePinner class is used for pinning. If you find such code, it's an indication that certificate pinning might be used.

  3. Inspect SSL libraries: If the app uses native code (C/C++), it might be using a custom SSL library. Check for .so (shared object) files in the lib directory of the unpacked APK. You might be able to glean some info about the use of certificate pinning from the names and versions of these libraries.

Remember that these checks can give you some clues about whether certificate pinning is used, but the definitive test would be trying to intercept the app's SSL traffic using a proxy tool, as I described in the previous message.


Tapjacking, also known as UI redress attack, is a malicious technique where an attacker overlays a transparent window over the application's user interface, tricking the user into clicking on hidden buttons or links. This could lead to unauthorised actions or disclosure of sensitive information.

Here's how you can check if an Android application is vulnerable to tapjacking:

  1. Check the Android Manifest file: Look for the android:filterTouchesWhenObscured attribute. If the value is true, it means the app has tapjacking protection. If the value is false or the attribute is not present, it suggests that the app could be vulnerable to tapjacking. The attribute can be set at the individual view level as well.

  2. Dynamic Analysis: You can also create a malicious app to overlay on the target app to check for tapjacking vulnerability. You would need to:

    • Create an overlay view in the malicious app with the same layout as the target app.

    • Set the view as clickable and focusable.

    • Start the malicious app and place it on top of the target app.

You can also install this tapjacking-poc.apk which will allow you to perform the above.

git clone
cd tapjacking-poc
cd bin
adb install tapjacking.apk

If the target app is still able to receive touch events while being obscured by the overlay, then it's vulnerable to tapjacking.

  1. Tools: Tools such as Drozer can also help in identifying tapjacking vulnerabilities.

Remember that tapjacking is more a user-interface concern rather than a data security concern. While it could be used as part of a larger attack, by itself it does not expose sensitive data or system resources.

Binary uses insecure APIs

How to Test

  1. Decompiling the APK: First, we'll need to decompile the APK file. We can use Apktool for this:

apktool d YourApp.apk

This will decompile the APK and output its contents into a directory named after the APK file.

  1. Searching for the insecure APIs: Next, navigate to the decompiled directory and search for the usage of the insecure APIs using 'grep':

cd YourApp
grep -r "_memcpy\|_fopen\|_sscanf\|_printf"

This command will search all the files recursively in the current directory for the insecure APIs and prints the files which have the search term within them. You can then use the following to view the contents for the proof of concept:

strings <filename> | grep "_memcpy\|_fopen\|_sscanf\|_printf"

You can use the following command to combine the two, in order to check for false possitives.

grep -rl "_memcpy\|_fopen\|_sscanf\|_printf" . | while read -r filename; do for func in _memcpy _fopen _sscanf _printf; do match=$(strings "$filename" | grep "$func"); if [ ! -z "$match" ]; then echo "$filename: $match"; fi; done; done

Alternatively, you could use JADX, a more powerful tool that produces Java source code from Android Dex and Apk files:

jadx -d output YourApp.apk

And then use grep to search the output directory:

cd output
grep -r "_memcpy\|_fopen\|_sscanf\|_printf"
  1. Using tools: MobFS is a good automated tool for static analysis which can help automate finding these APIs.

Remediation Advice

If the insecure APIs are found, developers should replace these functions with their secure counterparts where possible.

  • For _memcpy, consider using memcpy_s (if available) or be sure to limit the copied data to the size of the destination buffer. In the context of Android's native (C/C++) code, the usage of memcpy should always respect the size of the destination buffer to avoid buffer overflows.

  • For _fopen, consider using fopen_s or other methods with better error handling and more secure behaviors. Alternatively, in the context of Android, consider enforcing strict mode with android:usesCleartextTraffic="false" in the Android Manifest to prevent insecure HTTP traffic, and only allow HTTPS URLs.

  • For _sscanf, use sscanf_s or ensure input validation. In the context of Android development, consider using a safer alternative like strsep if possible.

  • For _printf, use snprintf, vsnprintf, or similar to avoid buffer overflows. Alternatively, in Android, avoid using this function in favor of Android's logging system (Log.d, Log.i, etc) which is safer and more flexible.

However, it's important to note that the "_s" versions of these functions are part of the optional Annex K of the ISO C11 standard, and may not be available on all platforms or compilers. Therefore, when using these functions in Android, especially when using the Android NDK, the traditional versions of these functions might be the only ones available. In such cases, additional care should be taken to use these functions in a secure manner, such as by ensuring proper size checks and error handling.

The specific remediation steps will depend on the nature of the native code, the Android app's functionality, and the specific usage of these insecure functions within the context of the app. It's crucial to review the code carefully to determine the best mitigation strategy for each instance of insecure API usage.

Check for encryption mode CBC with KCS5/PKCS7 padding

Testing if an application uses a specific encryption mode and padding, such as Cipher Block Chaining (CBC) with PKCS5/PKCS7 padding, is typically achieved through code review or dynamic analysis.

Code Review

For Android applications, you can decompile the APK file to Java code using tools such as JADX or JD-GUI. After decompiling, search for encryption-related methods in the code, typically Cipher.getInstance. The argument passed to this method will reveal the encryption mode and padding. If the argument is something like AES/CBC/PKCS5Padding or AES/CBC/PKCS7Padding, then the application is using AES encryption with CBC mode and PKCS5/PKCS7 padding.

Using tools like JADX or apktool, you can decompile the APK file to obtain the source code. Once you have the source code, you can search for keywords related to encryption such as "Cipher", "AES/CBC/PKCS5Padding", etc.

jadx -d output/ app.apk
grep -ri "AES/CBC/PKCS5Padding" output/

Or you can run the following command to showthe instances within the found files

grep -ril "AES/CBC/PKCS5Padding" . | while read -r filename; do for func in AES CBC PKCS5Padding; do match=$(strings "$filename" | grep "$func"); if [ ! -z "$match" ]; then echo "$filename: $match"; fi; done; done

Dynamic Analysis

Dynamic analysis would involve using a runtime instrumentation tool like Frida. You can hook into the Cipher.getInstance method to monitor the encryption mode and padding being used at runtime. Using tools like Frida or Xposed, you can hook into the app's methods during runtime to inspect or modify the app's behavior.

For instance, with Frida, you can hook into the Cipher.getInstance method to print the transformation string every time it's called:

Java.perform(function () {
    var Cipher = Java.use('javax.crypto.Cipher');
    Cipher.getInstance.overload('java.lang.String').implementation = function (transformation) {
        console.log('Cipher.getInstance called with transformation: ' + transformation);
        return this.getInstance(transformation);

This script prints the transformation string that is used when creating a Cipher instance. Source Code Review

If you have access to the source code, look for any instance where encryption is done. Look for instances where the Cipher class is used, and check how it's being initialized. For example:

Cipher cipher = Cipher.getInstance("AES/CBC/PKCS5PADDING");

This line would indicate that AES encryption with CBC mode and PKCS5 padding is being used.

Using tools: MobFS is a good automated tool for static analysis which can help automate finding ciphers that are in use.


  1. Use authenticated encryption: Galois/Counter Mode (GCM) and Counter with CBC-MAC (CCM) are both examples of authenticated encryption modes which provide both confidentiality and integrity. Using these modes ensures that the encrypted data hasn't been tampered with, and is hence recommended.

  2. MAC-then-Encrypt or Encrypt-then-MAC: These are alternative methods to provide data integrity. In MAC-then-Encrypt, a MAC (Message Authentication Code) is first computed on the plaintext and then the plaintext and MAC are encrypted together. In Encrypt-then-MAC, the plaintext is first encrypted and then a MAC is computed on the ciphertext. Both of these methods ensure that the encrypted data hasn't been tampered with.

    Note: Encrypt-then-MAC is generally considered more secure because it avoids certain potential vulnerabilities present in MAC-then-Encrypt, such as padding oracle attacks.

Additional Pointers

  • Make sure that the encryption keys are securely generated and stored. They should not be hard-coded into the application code.

  • Regularly rotate encryption keys to reduce the potential damage if an older key is compromised.

  • Use secure random number generators for generating keys and initialization vectors.

  • Do not use the same key for encryption and integrity. They should be independent to avoid potential vulnerabilities.

  • Consider key management solutions for secure key storage and management.

If an application must continue to use CBC mode, it should be used in combination with an HMAC to ensure data integrity.

Relevant Links:

Please note: The way encryption is being used in the application is more important than which exact encryption mode and padding are being used. It is crucial to ensure keys are being managed securely, IVs are used correctly, and data is authenticated in addition to being encrypted. Encryption should not be the only defence mechanism for sensitive data.

Dynamic Analysis

  1. Install the APK on the Device

    • Use ADB to install the APK onto your device or emulator.

    adb install base.apk
  2. Monitor System Logs

    • Use logcat command to check for errors and exceptions in real time.

    adb logcat

    This will start printing the log data in the console.

    Filtering Logs

    However, the amount of log data can be overwhelming. Therefore, you can use filters to narrow down the logs.

    Filter logs by priority level

    Log entries have a tag and a priority associated with them. The priority levels are as follows:

    • V — Verbose (lowest priority)

    • D — Debug

    • I — Info

    • W — Warning

    • E — Error

    • F — Fatal

    • S — Silent (highest priority, on which nothing is ever printed)

    You can filter log output by priority level, for example:

    adb logcat *:E

    This command will print only error messages.

    Filter logs by TAG

    Every log message has a tag which is usually defined by the class name. If you want to filter out logs from a specific tag, you can use:

    adb logcat -s "YourTAG"

    In Android's logging system, a "tag" is a short string that you define and associate with your log messages. Tags act as identifiers or labels that can help you filter, sort, and search for specific types of log data. They're especially helpful when you're dealing with a lot of log data from different sources.

    Typically, developers use the name of the class or activity that the log call is in as the tag, so it's easier to identify where the log call is coming from.

    For example, a log message could look like this:

    Log.i("MainActivity", "Button clicked!");

    Here, "MainActivity" is the tag, and "Button clicked!" is the log message.

    In a penetration testing scenario, identifying the tag depends on what you're trying to do:

    1. If you're examining a specific app, you can use the package name of the app as a starting point. For example, if you're testing an app with the package name com.example.myapp, you can start with:

      adb logcat | grep "com.example.myapp"
    2. If you're looking at the system logs in general, there may not be a specific tag you should be looking for. Instead, you could grep for terms that are often related to sensitive information, such as "password", "token", "username", etc.

    3. If you have the source code of the app, you can look at the code to identify what tags the app is using for its log messages.

    Combining TAG and Priority Filters

    You can also combine these filters:

    adb logcat YourTAG:E *:S

    This will print only the error (E) messages for YourTAG and silence (S) everything else.

    Searching for Sensitive Information

    One of the most basic ways to search for sensitive information in logs is simply to use the grep command. This is not specific to logcat but can be used with it. For example:

    adb logcat | grep "password"

    This command will show you any log entries that include the word "password". You can replace "password" with any other word you're interested in, such as "token", "key", "pin", etc.

  3. Intercept and Analyse Network Traffic

    • Set up Burp Suite as a proxy for the device and inspect the traffic.

Capture Traffic - tcpdump and Wireshark

  • Use tcpdump to capture packets and Wireshark to analyse the network protocol details.

adb shell tcpdump -w /sdcard/capture.pcap
adb pull /sdcard/capture.pcap

If you get issue with tcpdump not being installed on the device then you an do the following:

  1. Use an Android device/emulator with root access

    On a rooted device, you can install tcpdump using the appropriate binary for your device's architecture. Here are some links to download tcpdump binaries:

    Once you have the binary, you can push it to the device using the adb push command:

    chmod +x tcpdump
    adb push tcpdump /data/local/tcpdump
    adb shell chmod 755 /data/local/tcpdump

    The error message "Permission denied" suggests that ADB doesn't have the required permissions to push the file to the specified location on your Android device. This usually happens when your device isn't rooted or if the SELinux policy is preventing write access to the /data/local directory.

    Here are a few things you could try:

    1. Push to a different location: Try pushing the file to the /sdcard directory. This directory usually allows write access from ADB. Here's an example:

      adb push tcpdump /sdcard/tcpdump
    2. Check if your device is rooted: If your device is not rooted, you'll need to gain root access to push files to the /data/local directory.

    3. Change SELinux policy: If your device is rooted and you're still seeing this error, it could be because of the SELinux policy. You can temporarily set the SELinux policy to permissive with the following command:

      adb shell su 0 setenforce 0

      Then, try the adb push command again. Note that changing the SELinux policy can make your device less secure, so only do this if you understand the implications.

    Then, to capture packets:

    adb shell su -c '/data/local/tcpdump -w /sdcard/capture.pcap'

    Make sure that it is capturing on the correct network, it might default to "dummy0".

    adb shell ip link show

    This command will list all network interfaces on your Android device. Once you have identified the correct network interface, you can specify it when starting tcpdump.

    So, if you're looking to monitor network traffic from an app, it would likely be going through this interface (assuming the app is using WiFi to communicate). You can specify wlan0 when starting tcpdump as follows:

    adb shell su -c '/data/local/tcpdump -i wlan0 -w /sdcard/capture.pcap'

    This is the process of retrieving the .pcap file and analysing it.

    1. Get the .pcap file to your machine

      You can use the adb pull command to retrieve the capture.pcap file from your Android device to your local machine:

      adb pull /sdcard/capture.pcap

      This command will download the capture.pcap file from your Android device to the current directory on your local machine.

    2. Analyse the .pcap file

      You can use a tool like Wireshark or tcpdump to analyse the .pcap file.

      • Wireshark: Wireshark has a GUI that makes it easy to analyse .pcap files. You can install Wireshark and open the .pcap file with it:

        sudo apt install wireshark
        wireshark capture.pcap

        In the Wireshark interface, you can use the display filter input at the top of the window to filter the displayed packets:

        1. Show all IP addresses

          You don't need to apply any specific filter to show all IP addresses. By default, Wireshark displays all packets in the .pcap file.

        2. Filter by a specific IP address

          To filter packets by a specific IP address, you can use the following filter:

          ip.src ==

          Replace with the IP address you're interested in. This filter will show all packets where the source IP address is the one you specified.

        3. Filter by HTTP requests

          To filter HTTP requests, you can use the following filter:


          This filter will show all HTTP packets.

        4. Search for keywords

          To search for specific keywords in the packet data, you can use the Find Packet dialog (Edit > Find Packet, or Ctrl+F). In the dialog, select String for the search type, Packet bytes for the search in option, and enter your keyword in the search field.

        As with tcpdump, Wireshark can only analyse unencrypted traffic. If the network traffic in your .pcap file is encrypted (e.g., HTTPS, SSH), Wireshark will not be able to decipher the contents of the packets. Also, remember that sensitive information like passwords or PINs should not be sent over the network in plaintext.

      • tcpdump: tcpdump can also be used to analyse .pcap files from the command line. Here's an example that prints all packets:

        tcpdump -r capture.pcap

      When analysing the .pcap file, you're looking for anything out of the ordinary, such as unusual traffic patterns, unencrypted sensitive data, or communications with suspicious IP addresses. Using tcpdump to analyse .pcap files

      1. Here are some examples of how you might use tcpdump to analyse a .pcap file:

        • Show all IP addresses

          tcpdump -r capture.pcap -nn
        • Filter by a specific IP address

          tcpdump -r capture.pcap src
        • Filter by HTTP requests

          tcpdump -r capture.pcap -A 'tcp port 80'
        • Search for keywords

          tcpdump -r capture.pcap -A | grep 'password'

        Please note that tcpdump can only analyse unencrypted traffic. If the network traffic in your .pcap file is encrypted (e.g., HTTPS, SSH), tcpdump will not be able to decipher the contents of the packets.

        Additionally, it's very uncommon and highly insecure for passwords or PINs to be sent over the network in plaintext. In a secure setup, sensitive information like passwords or PINs would be sent over an encrypted connection, so tcpdump would not be able to recover them. For more tcpdump commands, refer to the following: tcpdump

  2. Use an alternative tool

    If you can't install tcpdump on your device, you can use an alternative tool. For example, you could use tPacketCapture app from the Play Store, which doesn't require root. However, please note that using such apps might not give you the level of control you would get with tcpdump.

  3. Use tcpdump on your host machine

    If you're testing on an emulator, another option is to use tcpdump on your host machine to capture packets. Here's an example:

    sudo tcpdump -i any -w capture.pcap

    This command tells tcpdump to capture packets on all network interfaces (-i any) and write them to a file called capture.pcap (-w capture.pcap).

  4. Run the Application and Observe its Behaviour

    • Manually run the application, perform various operations, and observe its behaviour and outputs.

  5. Use Drozer to Map the Attack Surface

    • Use Drozer for a detailed analysis of the application's attack surface.

    drozer console connect
    run app.package.attacksurface com.example.package
  6. Use Frida/Objection for Dynamic Instrumentation and SSL Pinning Bypass

    • Use Frida or Objection to modify the app behaviour during runtime, and also to bypass SSL Pinning if implemented.

  7. Analyse SQLite Databases if Present

    • Check for insecure data storage or sensitive information stored in SQLite databases.

    adb shell run-as com.example.package sqlite3 databases/database.db .dump

    SQLite is a lightweight disk-based database and it's used by many Android applications to store data. Sometimes sensitive data can be found in SQLite databases, so they should always be checked during a penetration test.

Using logcat

logcat is a command-line tool that dumps a log of system messages, which can include information about system processes, errors, warnings, stack traces, and more.

Here are some steps on how to use logcat:

  1. Basic logcat Usage

    • Simply type adb logcat in your command line and it will start displaying a real-time feed of system messages.

    adb logcat
  2. Filtering logcat Output

    • You can filter logcat output for easier reading. For instance, you can filter by log level (Error, Warning, Info, Debug, Verbose), or by the source of the log messages (tag).

    adb logcat *:E
    adb logcat -s "YourAppTag"
  3. Clearing the Log

    • If you want to clear the current log, you can use the -c command.

    adb logcat -c
  4. Saving log Output to a File

    • If you need to save the log output for later analysis or to share it with your team, you can direct the output to a file.

    adb logcat > logcat.txt
  5. Analysing the Log

    • Once you have the log data, you can start analysing it. You should look for any sensitive data that shouldn't be logged, such as passwords, credit card numbers, or personally identifiable information (PII). You should also look for error messages or exceptions that might reveal issues with the application, such as potential vulnerabilities or areas of weak security.

Locating SQLite Databases

SQLite databases are usually stored in the /data/data/<package_name>/databases/ directory on the device. However, applications can potentially store databases in other locations within their data directory.

Use the following command to navigate to the application's main directory:

adb shell run-as

The run-as command allows you to run commands as if you were the app that owns the data directory, but it only works for apps that are debuggable. Debuggable apps are typically only found during development, and should not be used in production due to security concerns.

If the app is not marked as debuggable in its manifest file (AndroidManifest.xml), you won't be able to use the run-as command. This is a security feature to prevent unauthorized access to the app's private data.

This does present a challenge when you're trying to perform a penetration test on a non-debuggable app. If the device is rooted, you can access the app's data directory without using the run-as command. However, be aware that rooting a device can pose its own security risks. Then you can search for SQLite database files recursively from the application's root directory using the find command. This will help you discover any databases that might be stored in non-standard locations:

find . -name "*.db"

This command will list all .db files (which are typically SQLite databases) in the current directory and all subdirectories.

To find SQLite databases within an Android application's directory, even if they don't have a .db extension, you can use the grep command with the -lr flags and the SQLite format 3 magic string. The -l flag tells grep to output the names of files where the pattern has been found, and the -r flag tells it to search recursively.

find . -type f -exec grep -l "SQLite format 3" {} \;

This command will search all files in the current directory and its subdirectories for the SQLite format 3 string, and print the names of the files where the string was found. If this finds a few databases, you can quickly dump them all to the /sdcard/ using the following command:

for db in $(find . -type f -exec grep -l "SQLite format 3" {} \;); do sqlite3 $db ".output /sdcard/databases/$(basename $db).dump"; done

Before you run this command, ensure that the databases directory exists on your sdcard. If not, you can create it using the following command:

adb shell mkdir /sdcard/databases

Now, when you want to pull all the databases to your local machine, you can do so with one command:

adb pull /sdcard/databases .

This will copy all the files from the databases directory on your sdcard to the current directory on your local machine. If it seems like the sqlite3 binary is not available on your Android device's shell. This binary is not included by default on some Android distributions for security reasons.

You can try to use adb to push the sqlite3 binary from your Kali machine to your Android device. The sqlite3 binary is usually included with the Android SDK platform-tools, but if it's not present, you can download it from a trusted source.

You can push it from your local machine to your Android device using the adb push command. The binary must be located in the /system/xbin directory and must have executable permissions. Here's how to do that:

  1. Find the sqlite3 binary on your local machine. If you have the Android SDK installed, it might be located in the platform-tools directory. If not, you might need to download it from a trusted source. Mine was located in: /usr/lib/android-sdk/platform-tools/sqlite3

  2. Push the binary to your Android device:

adb push /usr/lib/android-sdk/platform-tools/sqlite3 /data/local/tmp/

Move the binary to the /system/xbin directory and give it executable permissions:

adb shell
chmod 755 /data/local/tmp/sqlite3
export PATH=$PATH:/data/local/tmp

Now you should be able to use the sqlite3 command in your Android shell If you get "not executable: 64-bit ELF file" the error typically indicates that you are trying to run an executable compiled for a different architecture than the one you're currently running.

You can download a different version of SQLite from the SQLite's official download page.

Here is an example on how to download, push and give executable permissions to sqlite3 for arm64:

# Downloading SQLite3 for ARM architecture

# Unzipping the package
unzip sqlite-android-3420000.aar -d sqlite-android-3420000

# Change to the sqlite directory
cd sqlite-android-3420000/jni/arm64-v8a/

# Pushing to the device
adb push /data/local/tmp/

#In the adb shell session on your Android device, set the file permissions of the file to make it executable.
chmod +x /data/local/tmp/

#Finally, you should be able to execute the SQLite binary by specifying the full path to the file.

# Giving executable permissions to sqlite3 inside the adb shell
chmod 755 /data/local/tmp/
export PATH=$PATH:/data/local/tmp/

The above steps will push sqlite3 to the /data/local/tmp/ directory and give it executable permissions.

Please note, the URL in the wget command above may vary depending on the version of SQLite and the architecture of your device. You should download the version that suits your requirements.

After executing the above steps, you can use the sqlite3 command as /data/local/tmp/sqlite3. If you are not sure what version of Android arcitechture you have you can run:

getprop ro.product.cpu.abilist

### Mine shows:
# arm64-v8a,armeabi-v7a,armeabi

Keep in mind that grep might not be available on all devices, so you may need to pull the files to your local machine to perform the search:

adb pull /data/data/org.innox.c4u_mobile_app . grep -lr "SQLite format 3" org.innox.c4u_mobile_app

This will first copy the app's data directory to your local machine, and then perform the search locally. Please note that the `adb pull` command requires appropriate permissions to access the app's data directory. If the app is not debuggable and the device is not rooted, you may not be able to access the app's private data.

Dumping Database Content

Once you've found a database, you can use the sqlite3 command-line tool to inspect it. The .dump command will print the contents of the entire database:

sqlite3 databases/database.db .dump

Remember to replace databases/database.db with the actual path to the database file you're interested in.

Querying Specific Tables

If you know the structure of the database, you can query specific tables or data using standard SQL syntax. For example:

sqlite3 databases/database.db "SELECT * FROM user_table"

This command will select all data from the user_table. Replace user_table with the actual table name you are interested in.

or you can use a GUI for manual checking


Exporting Databases

If the database is large or you want to use a GUI tool like DB Browser for SQLite for a more convenient view, you can pull the database file from the device to your local machine:

adb exec-out run-as cat databases/database.db > local_database.db

Or from within the device shell

adb shell
    cd /data/data/
    mkdir -p /sdcard/databases/
    cp * /sdcard/databases/

adb pull /sdcard/databases pull

This command will create a copy of the database.db on your local machine with the name local_database.db. You can open local_database.db with any SQLite database viewer on your local machine.

Advanced Analysis

  1. Identify and Exploit Intent-Based Vulnerabilities

    • Use Drozer or other tools to identify potential vulnerabilities with Android Intents.

  2. Examine File System for Insecure File Permissions

    • Use ADB shell to navigate through the file system and check permissions.

    adb shell
  3. Automate UI Interactions for Testing

    • Use tools like Appium or ADB to script UI interactions.

  4. Fuzz Unexpected Inputs to the Application

    • Generate unexpected or random inputs to the application to see how it reacts.

  5. Reverse Engineer Native Code

    • Use tools like radare2 or Ghidra to reverse engineer the native libraries.

  6. Patch and Repackage the Application as Needed

    • Use APKTool to decompile the app, modify the code, and then recompile the APK.

  7. Verify Secure Network Traffic and Analyse Protocols like MQTT, XMPP, etc.

    • Besides HTTP and HTTPS, check for secure implementation of other protocols like MQTT, XMPP etc. Network protocol analysis on Android is not straightforward due to the sandboxed nature of Android applications, but there are a few ways to approach it.

      Wireshark and tcpdump are two tools that can be used to capture and analyse network traffic, which includes traffic from protocols like MQTT, XMPP, etc. We already discussed how to use these tools earlier.

      However, to verify secure network traffic and analyse such protocols specifically for an Android application, you'll need to capture the traffic from that application. This can be done using VPN-based Android apps that can capture traffic from your device, or by routing your device's traffic through a proxy running on another machine.

      Steps to analyse network protocols for an Android app

      1. Setup a proxy to capture traffic:

      You can set up a proxy using tools like Wireshark on a separate machine, and then route all the traffic from your Android device through that proxy. To do this, you'll need to:

      1.1. Set up the proxy on a separate machine and note down the IP address and port number.

      1.2. On your Android device, go to Wi-Fi settings, long-press on the connected Wi-Fi network, and modify the network configuration to use the manual proxy settings. Enter the IP address and port number of your proxy machine.

      1.3. Now, all the traffic from your Android device will go through the proxy, and you can capture this traffic.

      2. Capture and analyse the traffic:

      2.1. Start capturing traffic on your proxy using Wireshark or tcpdump.

      2.2. Use the Android app as normal to generate network traffic.

      2.3. Stop the capture on your proxy.

      2.4. Analyse the captured traffic using Wireshark's various features. For example, you can filter by protocol (e.g., MQTT), inspect individual packets, follow TCP streams, etc.

      3. Use an Android app to capture traffic:

      3.1. If setting up a separate proxy is not feasible, there are Android apps available that can capture network traffic from your device. These apps work by creating a VPN connection on the device and capturing all traffic that goes through it.

      3.2. One such app is Packet Capture. After installing the app, you can start the capture, use your app to generate traffic, and then stop the capture. The app will show the captured traffic, which you can then analyse.

      4. Check for secure implementation:

      To check for secure implementation of the protocols, you should check whether the communication is encrypted, check the certificates used for encryption, and try to decrypt the communication if possible. In order to use tcpdump to monitor for specific protocols such as MQTT and XMPP, you can use the port filter.

      1. MQTT: MQTT by default uses TCP port 1883 for non-encrypted communication and TCP port 8883 for encrypted communication.

      tcpdump -i any -s 0 -w mqtt.pcap port 1883 or port 8883
      1. XMPP: XMPP uses TCP port 5222 for client connections and TCP port 5269 for server connections. For encrypted connections, port 5223 is often used.

      tcpdump -i any -s 0 -w xmpp.pcap port 5222 or port 5223 or port 5269

      Remember that MQTT and XMPP are just examples. You should check which protocols the Android app you are testing is using and what ports those protocols use.

      If you don't know which protocols the app is using, you could monitor all TCP and UDP traffic and then analyse the pcap file using a tool like Wireshark to see which protocols are present:

      tcpdump -i any -s 0 -w all_traffic.pcap

      Wireshark can recognize many different protocols automatically and can help you filter and analyse the pcap file easily.

      Please remember to replace any in the -i parameter with the actual interface you are listening on if you know it.

      Please note, though tcpdump is powerful, it only gives you the raw network packets. To interpret and analyse those packets, a packet analyser like Wireshark will provide a more in-depth view into the packet data.

  8. Check for Weak Cryptographic Functions

    • Check for usage of weak or deprecated cryptographic functions, or improper usage of cryptography.

  9. Check for Code Obfuscation and Anti-Reversing Techniques

    • Check for presence of anti-reversing measures like code obfuscation, root detection, debugger detection etc.

Post Exploitation

  1. Exploit Identified Vulnerabilities

    • Use discovered vulnerabilities to demonstrate potential impacts.

  2. Document Findings and Create a Report

    • Document all findings, provide evidence, and create a detailed report.

Please note, every application will have different security controls in place, so this checklist may need to be adjusted based on the application you're testing. Always follow ethical guidelines and only test applications you have permission to test.

Last updated