Adversaries may abuse the Android device administration API to prevent the user from uninstalling a target application. In earlier versions of Android, device administrator applications needed their administration capabilities explicitly deactivated by the user before the application could be uninstalled. This was later updated so the user could deactivate and uninstall the administrator application in one step.
Adversaries may also abuse the device accessibility APIs to prevent removal. This set of APIs allows the application to perform certain actions on behalf of the user and programmatically determine what is being shown on the screen. The malicious application could monitor the device screen for certain modals (e.g., the confirmation modal to uninstall an application) and inject screen input or a back button tap to close the modal.
An EMM/MDM can use the Android
|M1006||Use Recent OS Version||
Recent versions of Android modified how device administrator applications are uninstalled, making it easier for the user to remove them.
Users should be warned against granting access to accessibility features and device administration services, and to carefully scrutinize applications that request these dangerous permissions. Users should be taught how to boot into safe mode to uninstall malicious applications that may be interfering with the uninstallation process.
Users can view a list of device administrators and applications that have registered accessibility services in device settings. Users can typically visually see when an action happens that they did not initiate and can subsequently review installed applications for any out of place or unknown ones. Applications that register an accessibility service or request device administrator permissions should be scrutinized further for malicious behavior.