Application Analysis Blog 1

What is Application Analysis?

Artifacts are a subject of fascination, full of information from their time and location.  An application leaves markers on systems that often go undetected by the user. These digital artifacts are small bits of information, ranging from profile icons to private messages. This information could be a threat, and it’s crucial that any consumer be aware of their app’s security. This means that if someone else gets into your system, they might be able to unearth info that could allow them to steal from or impersonate you.

The goal of this project is to find out what information remains after one removes an app from the system. Through this, we can learn what programs are secure and prevent any security risks.

Image stating "I see cyber risks everywhere"

Browsers and User Privacy

In the first few weeks of the semester, we spent time examining the artifacts left by internet browsers. Through this, we uncovered a treasure trove of information in the “Appdata” folder. This folder is where every desktop application stores it’s information. Because it’s deemed unnecessary for user interaction, the Appdata folder is full of user input for most programs. If a normal consumer stumbled upon this, it wouldn’t mean much to them. However, this is all the juicy bits of data that were part of your account on a program. This could be very useful for someone trying to take control of your accounts.  For example, one of the files within this folder holds your Cookies, small temporary files that are responsible for holding small, session-long pieces of data.

We took a look at the browser Firefox, made by the company Mozilla. There are three folders under Appdata: Local, LocalLow, and Roaming. The browser stores data that it accesses in a local server so that it can access it again, like your browser homepage.

Your credit card information that was put into Amazon is held in that file, as is your Facebook password. This is a risk for everyone and it needs to be addressed to make users more aware of their safety online and offline.

An image of the information under the Firefox tab in Roaming

An image of the information under the Firefox tab in Roaming

What types of applications will we be looking at? 

After working with browsers, we started researching other applications to investigate.  We decided to investigate Steam, Google Drive, Dropbox, Viber, and Twitter. Steam is a popular gaming PC gaming platform that, as of April 2019, has a billion accounts and 90 million users. It’s important that such a giant in the video game industry keeps its users’ information private. Google Drive is similar to Dropbox, but is better funded and more used. We are curious to see how much of a difference this makes security-wise for each user. Viber is a small Peer-to-Peer (P2P) application for smartphone and desktop use. P2P gives users equal permissions, allowing for fast data movement. Finally, Twitter is a large worldwide social media application that has had a history of insecurity in its system.

Conclusion

During the course of this semester, we will these desktop applications on our virtual machines. Doing this will generate data from the program into the Appdata folder. After this, we will completely uninstall the applications from the system, and investigate the data leftover, analyzing the trail of data to see if one could abuse it.

We will start next week with analyzing our first application, and we will be sure to let everyone know the verdict on our next blog!

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