Install Insecure or Malicious Configuration

An adversary could attempt to install insecure or malicious configuration settings on the mobile device, through means such as phishing emails or text messages either directly containing the configuration settings as an attachment, or containing a web link to the configuration settings. The device user may be tricked into installing the configuration settings through social engineering techniques [1].

For example, an unwanted Certification Authority (CA) certificate could be placed in the device's trusted certificate store, increasing the device's susceptibility to man-in-the-middle network attacks seeking to eavesdrop on or manipulate the device's network communication (Eavesdrop on Insecure Network Communication and Manipulate Device Communication).

On iOS, malicious Configuration Profiles could contain unwanted Certification Authority (CA) certificates or other insecure settings such as unwanted proxy server or VPN settings to route the device's network traffic through an adversary's system. The device could also potentially be enrolled into a malicious Mobile Device Management (MDM) system [2].

ID: T1478
Sub-techniques:  No sub-techniques
Tactic Type: Post-Adversary Device Access
Tactics: Defense Evasion, Initial Access
Platforms: Android, iOS
Version: 1.0
Created: 17 October 2018
Last Modified: 17 October 2018

Procedure Examples

Name Description

Anubis can modify administrator settings and disable Play Protect.[3]


Cerberus disables Google Play Protect to prevent its discovery and deletion in the future.[4]

Desert Scorpion

If running on a Huawei device, Desert Scorpion adds itself to the protected apps list, which allows it to run with the screen off.[5]


Dvmap can enable installation of apps from unknown sources, turn off VerifyApps, and can grant Device Administrator permissions via commands only, rather than using the UI.[6]


Mandrake can enable app installation from unknown sources and can disable Play Protect.[7]

XLoader for iOS

XLoader for iOS has been installed via a malicious configuration profile.[8]


Zen can modify the SELinux enforcement mode.[9]


Mitigation Description
Use Recent OS Version

iOS 10.3 and higher add an additional step for users to install new trusted CA certificates to make it more difficult to trick users into installing them. On Android, apps that target compatibility with Android 7 and higher (API Level 24) default to only trusting CA certificates that are bundled with the operating system, not CA certificates that are added by the user or administrator, hence decreasing their susceptibility to successful man-in-the-middle attack.[10][11]

User Guidance

Typically, insecure or malicious configuration settings are not installed without the user's consent. Users should be advised not to install unexpected configuration settings (CA certificates, iOS Configuration Profiles, Mobile Device Management server provisioning).


On Android, the user can view trusted CA certificates through the device settings and look for unexpected certificates. A mobile security product could similarly examine the trusted CA certificate store for anomalies.

On iOS, the user can view installed Configuration Profiles through the device settings and look for unexpected profiles. A Mobile Device Management (MDM) system could use the iOS MDM APIs to examine the list of installed Configuration Profiles for anomalies.