A Comprehensive Evaluation of Android ICC Resolution Techniques
Inter-component communication (ICC) is a widely used mechanism in mobile apps, which enables message-based control flow transferring and data passing between Android components. Effective ICC resolution requires precisely identifying entry points, analyzing data values of ICC fields, modeling related framework APIs, etc. Due to various control-flow- and data-flow-related characteristics involved and the lack of oracles for real-world apps, the comprehensive evaluation of ICC resolution techniques is challenging.
To fill this gap, we collect multiple-type benchmark suites with 4,104 apps, covering hand-made apps, open-source, and commercial ones. Considering their differences, various evaluation metrics, e.g., number count, graph structure, and reliable oracle based metrics, are adopted on-demand. As the oracle for real-world apps is unavailable, we design a dynamic analysis approach to extract the real ICC links triggered during GUI exploration. By auditing the code implementations, we carefully check the extracted ICCs and confirm 1,680 ones to form a reliable oracle set, in which each ICC is labeled with 25 code characteristic tags. The evaluation performed on six state-of-the-art ICC resolution tools shows that 1) the completeness of static ICC resolution results on real-world apps is not satisfactory, as up to 39%-85% ICCs are missed by tools; 2) many wrongly reported ICCs are sent from or received by only a few components and the graph structure information can help the identification; 3) the efficiency of fundamental tools, like ICC resolution ones, should be optimized in both engineering and research aspects, as users may set time limits when invoking them. By investigating both the missed and wrongly reported ICCs, we discuss the strengths of different tools for users and summarize eight common FN/FP patterns in ICC resolution for tool developers.