Computer Science and Engineering, Department of


First Advisor

Gregg Rothermel

Second Advisor

Witawas Srisa-an

Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfilllment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science Major: Computer Science Under the Supervision of Professors Gregg Rothermel and Witawas Srisa-an Lincoln, Nebraska December, 2016


Software repackaging is a common approach for creating malware. In this approach, malware authors inject malicious payloads into legitimate applications; then, to ren- der security analysis more difficult, they obfuscate most or all of the code. This forces analysts to spend a large amount of effort filtering out benign obfuscated methods in order to locate potentially malicious methods for further analysis. If an effective mechanism for filtering out benign obfuscated methods were available, the number of methods that must be analyzed could be reduced, allowing analysts to be more productive. In this thesis, we introduce SEMEO, a highly effective and efficient fil- tering approach that can determine whether an obfuscated and an original version of a method are semantically equivalent. Our approach handles seven common, com- plex types of obfuscation and can be effective even when all types are compositely applied. In an empirical evaluation, we applied SEMEO to nine Android apps of varying complexity, and the approach provided over 76% recall and 100% precision in identifying semantically equivalent methods. We then performed three additional studies, that showed that: (1) SEMEO is much more effective at identifying semantically equivalent methods than FSquaDRA, an existing technique; (2) SEMEO is also effective for identifying repackaged apps that have been previously obfuscated by ProGuard, a popular obfuscation tool; and (3) SEMEO is effective at identifying semantically equivalent methods in a repackaged, malicious version of Pokemon Go.