Morpheus: Benchmarking Computational Diversity in Mobile Malware


M. Kazdagli, L. Huang, V. REDDI, and M. Tiwari, “Morpheus: Benchmarking Computational Diversity in Mobile Malware,” Workshop on Hardware and Architectural Support for Security and Privacy (HASP). ACM, 2014.
Paper1.94 MB


Computational characteristics of a program can potentially be used to identify malicious programs from benign ones. However, systematically evaluating malware detection techniques, especially when malware samples are hard to run correctly and can adapt their computational characteristics, is a hard problem. We introduce Morpheus – a benchmarking tool that includes both real mobile malware and a synthetic malware generator that can be configured to generate a computationally diverse malware sample-set – as a tool to evaluate computational signatures based malware detection. Morpheus also includes a set of computationally diverse benign applications that can be used to repackage malware into, along with a recorded trace of over 1 hour long realistic human usage for each app that can be used to replay both benign and malicious executions.

The current Morpheus prototype targets Android applications and malware samples. Using Morpheus, we quantify the computational diversity in malware behavior and expose opportunities for dynamic analyses that can detect mobile malware. Specifically, the use of obfuscation and encryption to thwart static analyses causes the malicious execution to be more distinctive – a potential opportunity for detection. We also present potential challenges, specifically, minimizing false positives that can arise due to diversity of benign executions.

Categories and Subject Descriptors

D.4.6 [Security and Protection]: Invasive software


security, mobile malware, performance counters

Last updated on 05/31/2019