Computer Science and Engineering, Department of


First Advisor

Witawas Srisa-an

Date of this Version

Spring 4-23-2020


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Computer Science, Under the Supervision of Professor Witawas Srisa-an. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2020

Copyright 2020 Yuanjiu Hu


There are several factors that make analyzing Android apps to address dependability and security concerns challenging. These factors include (i) resource efficiency as analysts need to be able to analyze large code-bases to look for issues that can exist in the application code and underlying platform code; (ii) scalability as today’s cybercriminals deploy attacks that may involve many participating apps; and (iii) in many cases, security analysts often rely on dynamic or hybrid analysis techniques to detect and identify the sources of issues.

The underlying principle governing the design of existing program analysis engines is the main cause that prevents them from satisfying these factors. Existing designs operate like compilers, so they only analyze one app at a time using a "close-world" process that leads to poor efficiency and scalability. Recently, Tsutana et al. introduced Jitana, a Virtual Class-Loader (VCL) based approach to construct program analyses based on the "open-world" concept. This approach is able to continuously load and analyze code. As such, this approach establishes a new way to make analysis efforts proportional to the code size and provides an infrastructure to construct complex, efficient, and scalable static, dynamic, and hybrid analysis procedures to address emerging dependability and security needs.

In this thesis, we attempt to quantify the performance benefit of Jitana through the lens of memory usage. Memory is a very important system-level resource that if not expended efficiently, can result in long execution time and premature termination of a program. Existing program analysis frameworks are notorious for consuming a large amount of memory during an attempt to analyze a large software project. As such, we design an experiment to compare the

memory usage between Jitana and Soot, a widely used program analysis and optimization framework for Java. Our evaluation consists of using 18 Android apps, with sizes ranging from 0.02 MB to 80.4 MB. Our empirical evaluations reveal that Jitana requires up to 81% less memory than Soot to analyze an app. At the same time, it can also analyze more components including those belonging to the application and those belonging to the Android framework.

Adviser: Witawas Srisa-an