Professor Xusheng Xiao Receives Proposal Award

Professor Xusheng Xiao was awarded an NSF grant in the amount of $175,000 for his proposal - "CRII: SaTC: Enhancing Mobile App Security by Detecting Icon-Behavior Contradiction" (Proposal Number: 1755772).
Mobile applications (i.e., apps) are becoming critical parts in our daily life. While these apps provide better customized services using users' personal data, certain behavior of the apps is less than desirable or harmful.
Thus, it is crucial to understand the intents of the app to determine whether the app will perform within the user's expectation. Various research efforts have been dedicated to understand apps' intents via analyzing the semantics of texts in UI. However, images, especially icons, remain unexplored. In apps' UIs, icons are often used in interactive widgets (e.g., buttons) to express the intents to use sensitive data. It is often difficult to analyze the semantics of icons due to the varieties in image styles and the lack of descriptive texts.
The proposed research will build a knowledge base of icons' semantics via collecting icons from apps in major smartphone markets, and develop a framework to infer the semantics of icons based on the collected icons. More specifically, the PI proposes to adapt computer vision techniques to develop icon recognition techniques that identify similar icons based on the collected icons, and leverage program analysis techniques to check the compatibility between the icons and the program behaviors. Furthermore, this research will combine the semantics of both texts and icons to better detect undesired behavior in apps.