How to Detect Accessibility Service Abuse in Android Apps

Last updated February 12, 2024 by Appdome

Learn to Detect AccessibilityService abuse in Android apps, in mobile CI/CD with a Data-Driven DevSecOps™ build system.

What is Android Accessibility Service Abuse?

Accessibility Services are OS settings/features in Android designed to assist users with disabilities (for example, screen readers, speech-to-text, and touch events). These features run in the background and receive callbacks from the system when accessibility events are fired, allowing them to react to UI state transitions (for example, the focus has changed, the button was clicked, or content in the active window was queried).
When an app’s Accessibility Services features are enabled it often grants the app permissions that can be abused, especially if the app is a clone, trojan, or malware app. Such malicious apps often request elevated permissions or trick users into enabling AccessibilityServices, which the app will then abuse (at the user’s or your app’s expense). The potential malicious uses of AccessibilityServices services include performing click actions (for example, committing click fraud, inputting data into forms fraudulently, impersonating the real mobile user, or cheating in mobile games). Other potential abusive actions are reading and writing SMS messages and emails, intercepting and reading 2FA codes, stealing cryptocurrency keys, and remotely controlling mobile devices or apps.
For these reasons, it is advisable to be aware when Accessibility Services are enabled for a malicious app and to protect the target application (your app) from being abused or compromised.

How does Appdome Protect Against Accessibility Service Abuse?

When Accessibility Service Abuse is detected, Appdome ensures that the app closes and the user receives a notification informing them about the detection and suggesting the option to turn off their Accessibility Services via the settings.

Note: You can either leave the default app compromise notification as is or edit it. In addition, you can create a localized compromise notification message by uploading a CSV or JSON file. Ensure that in this file, you specify the locale (e.g., en_US) on the left column and the localized message on the right column.

Note: The toggle Accessibility Service Abuse is only displayed when enabling the feature Prevent Accessibility Service Malware.

Prerequisites for Using Accessibility Service Abuse:

To use Appdome’s mobile app security build system to Detect AccessibilityService abuse , you’ll need:

Detect AccessibilityService abuse on Android apps using Appdome

On Appdome, follow these 3 simple steps to create self-defending Android Apps that Detect AccessibilityService abuse without an SDK or gateway:

  1. Upload the Mobile App to Appdome.

    1. Upload an app to Appdome’s Mobile App Security Build System

    2. Upload Method: Appdome Console or DEV-API
    3. Android Formats: .apk or .aab
    4. Accessibility Service Abuse Compatible With: Java, JS, C++, C#, Kotlin, Flutter, React Native, Unity, Xamarin, Cordova and other Android apps
  2. Build the feature: Accessibility Service Abuse.

    1. Building Accessibility Service Abuse by using Appdome’s DEV-API:

      1. Create and name the Fusion Set (security template) that will contain the Accessibility Service Abuse feature as shown below:
      2. fusion set that contains Accessibility Service Abuse

        Figure 1: Fusion Set that will contain the Accessibility Service Abuse feature
        Note: Naming the Fusion Set to correspond to the protection(s) selected is for illustration purposes only (not required).

      3. Follow the steps in Sections 2.2.1-2.2.2 of this article, Building the Accessibility Service Abuse feature via Appdome Console, to add the Accessibility Service Abuse feature to this Fusion Set.

      4. Open the Fusion Set Detail Summary by clicking the “...” symbol on the far-right corner of the Fusion Set, as shown in Figure 1 above, and get the Fusion Set ID from the Fusion Set Detail Summary (as shown below): fusion Set Detail Summary image

        Figure 2: Fusion Set Detail Summary
        Note: Annotating the Fusion Set to identify the protection(s) selected is optional only (not mandatory).

      5. Follow the instructions below to use the Fusion Set ID inside any standard mobile DevOps or CI/CD toolkit like Bitrise, App Center, Jenkins, Travis, Team City, Circle CI or other system:
        1. Build an API for the app – for instructions, see the tasks under Appdome API Reference Guide
        2. Look for sample APIs in Appdome’s GitHub Repository
    2. Building the Accessibility Service Abuse feature via Appdome Console

      To build the Accessibility Service Abuse protection by using Appdome Console, follow the instructions below.

      1. Where: Inside the Appdome Console, go to Build > Anti Fraud Tab > Mobile Malware Prevention section.
      2. When you select the Accessibility Service Abuse you'll notice that your Fusion Set you created in step 2.1.1 now bears the icon of the protection category that contains Accessibility Service Abuse

        Fusion Set applied Accessibility Service Abuse

        Figure 4: Fusion Set that displays the newly added Accessibility Service Abuse protection

      3. Select the Threat-Event™ in-app mobile Threat Defense and Intelligence policy for Accessibility Service Abuse:
        1. Threat-Events™ OFF > In-App Defense

          If the Threat-Events™ setting is cleared (not selected). Appdome will detect and defend the user and app by enforcing Detect AccessibilityService abuse.

        2. Threat-Events™ ON > In-App Detection

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects that the AccessibilityServices services are enabled and passes Appdome’s Threat-Event™ attack intelligence to the app’s business logic for processing, enforcement, and user notification. For more information on consuming and using Appdome Threat-Events™ in the app, see section Using Threat-Events™ for Accessibility Service Abuse Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

        3. Threat-Events™ ON > In-App Defense

          When this setting is used, Appdome detects and defends against AccessibilityService abuse (same as Appdome Enforce) and passes Appdome’s Threat-Event™ attack intelligence the app’s business logic for processing. For more information on consuming and using Appdome Threat-Events™ in the app, see section Using Threat-Events™ for Accessibility Service Abuse Intelligence and Control in Mobile Apps.

      4. Click Build My App at the bottom of the Build Workflow (shown in Figure 3).
    Congratulations!  The Accessibility Service Abuse protection is now added to the mobile app

Using Threat-Events™ for AccessibilityService abuse Intelligence and Control in Android Apps

Appdome Threat-Events™ provides consumable in-app mobile app attack intelligence and defense control when AccessibilityService abuse is detected. To consume and use Threat-Events™ for AccessibilityService abuse in Android Apps, use registerReceiver in the Application OnCreate, and the code samples for Threat-Events™ for AccessibilityService abuse shown below.

The specifications and options for Threat-Events™ for AccessibilityService abuse are:

Threat-Event™ Elements Detect AccessibilityService abuse Method Detail
Appdome Feature Name Accessibility Service Abuse
Threat-Event Mode
OFF, IN-APP DEFENSE Appdome detects, defends and notifies user (standard OS dialog) using customizable messaging.
ON, IN-APP DETECTION Appdome detects the attack or threat and passes the event in a standard format to the app for processing (app chooses how and when to enforce).
ON, IN-APP DEFENSE Uses Appdome Enforce mode for any attack or threat and passes the event in a standard format to the app for processing (gather intel on attacks and threats without losing any protection).
Certified Secure™ Threat Event Check
Visible in ThreatScope™
Developer Parameters for Detecting AccessibilityService abuse Threat-Event™
Threat-Event NAME AccessibilityServiceDetected
Threat-Event DATA reasonData
Threat-Event CODE reasonCode
Threat-Event REF 6801
Threat-Event SCORE
currentThreatEventScore Current Threat-Event score
threatEventsScore Total Threat-events score
Threat-Event Context Keys
message Message displayed for the user on event
externalID The external ID of the event which can be listened via Threat Events
osVersion OS version of the current device
deviceModel Current device model
deviceManufacturer The manufacturer of the current device
fusedAppToken The task ID of the Appdome fusion of the currently running app
kernelInfo Info about the kernel: system name, node name, release, version and machine.
carrierPlmn PLMN of the device
deviceID Current device ID
reasonCode Reason code of the occured event
buildDate Appdome fusion date of the current application
devicePlatform OS name of the current device
carrierName Carrier name of the current device
updatedOSVersion Is the OS version up to date
deviceBrand Brand of the device
deviceBoard Board of the device
buildUser Build user
buildHost Build host
sdkVersion Sdk version
timeZone Time zone
deviceFaceDown Is the device face down
locationLong Location longitude conditioned by location permission
locationLat Location latitude conditioned by location permission
locationState Location state conditioned by location permission
wifiSsid Wifi SSID
wifiSsidPermissionStatus Wifi SSID permission status

With Threat-Events™ enabled (turned ON), Android developers can get detailed attack intelligence and granular defense control in Android applications and create amazing user experiences for all mobile end users when AccessibilityService abuse is detected.

The following is a code sample for native Android apps, which uses all values in the specification above for Accessibility Service Abuse:


Using Appdome, there are no development or coding prerequisites to build secured Android Apps by using Accessibility Service Abuse. There is no SDK and no library to code or implement in the app and no gateway to deploy in your network. All protections are built into each app and the resulting app is self-defending and self-protecting.

Releasing and Publishing Mobile Apps with Accessibility Service Abuse

After successfully securing your app by using Appdome, there are several available options to complete your project, depending on your app lifecycle or workflow. These include:

Related Articles:

If you have any questions, please send them our way at support.appdome.com or via the chat window on the Appdome platform.

Thank you!

Thanks for visiting Appdome! Our mission is to secure every app on the planet by making mobile app security easy. We hope we’re living up to the mission with your project.

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