Dynamic detection of mobile malware using smartphone data and machine learning

Sebastian Panman de Wit*, Doina Bucur, Jeroen van der Ham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
188 Downloads (Pure)


Mobile malware are malicious programs that target mobile devices. They are an increasing problem, as seen with the rise of detected mobile malware samples per year. The number of active smartphone users is expected to grow, stressing the importance of research on the detection of mobile malware. Detection methods for mobile malware exist but are still limited.In this article, we provide an overview of the performance of machine learning (ML) techniques to detect malware on Android, without using privileged access. The ML-classifiers use device information such as the CPU usage, battery usage, and memory usage for the detection of 10 subtypes of Mobile Trojans on the Android Operating System.We use a real-life dataset containing device and malware data from 47 users for a year (2016). We examine which features, i.e., aspects, of a device, are most important to monitor to detect (subtypes of) Mobile Trojans. The focus of this article is on dynamic hardware features. Using these dynamic features we apply state-of-the-art machine learning classifiers: Random Forest, K-Nearest Neighbour, and AdaBoost. We show classification results on different feature sets, making a distinction between global device features, and specific app features. None of the measured feature sets require privileged access.Our results show that the Random Forest classifier performs best as a general malware classifier: across 10 subtypes of Mobile Trojans, it achieves an F1 score of 0.73 with a False Positive Rate (FPR) of 0.009 and a False Negative Rate (FNR) of 0.380. The Random Forest, K-Nearest Neighbours, and AdaBoost classifiers achieve F1 scores above 0.72, an FPR below 0.02 and, an FNR below 0.33, when trained separately to detect each subtype of Mobile Trojans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
JournalDigital Threats
Issue number2
Early online date8 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


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