Skip to main content

Shims

What is a "shim"?

We can think of a “shim” as the ability to say: "a call to a method matching <shimmed-method> also implies calls to methods matching <shim-target-1>, <shim-target-2>, …, <shim-target-n>. This allows us to manually augment the call-graph with artificial calls to methods at specific call-sites. This is useful for simulating events in the android application by mimicking calls to the known event-handlers which allows us to capture dataflows otherwise missed due to the missing invocation of event-handlers.

For example, when a new fragment is added to a FragmentManager, the FragmentManager is responsible for moving them through its lifecycle states (reference). But we do not see the calls to the lifecycle event handlers on the new instance of the fragment and can miss flows. We can define shims as follows to fill in such missing links.

class MainActivity extends AppCompatActivity {
@Override
protected void onCreate(Bundle savedinstanceState) {
if (savedInstanceState == null) {
Fragment myFragment = new MyFragment();
myFragment.setArguments(getTaintedBundle()); // Source
getSupportFragmentManager().beginTransaction()
.setReorderingAllowed(true)
.add(R.id.fragment_container_view, myFragment, null) // FragmentManager handles `myFragment`'s lifecycle.
.commit();
}
}
}

class MyFragment extends Fragment {
@Override
public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
sink(getArguments()); // Issue if `mArguments` is tainted using `setArguments()`
}
}

In this case, we can define a shim on FragmentTrasaction's add() to trigger the lifecycle wrapper method of it's Fragment argument to mimic the android's lifecycle management to catch this flow.

{
"find": "methods",
"where": [
{
"constraint": "signature",
"pattern": "Landroidx/fragment/app/FragmentTransaction;\\.add:\\(ILandroidx/fragment/app/Fragment;.*"
}
],
"shim": {
"callees": [
{
"type_of": "Argument(2)",
"lifecycle_name": "xfragment_lifecycle_wrapper"
}
]
}
},

Terminologies

  • shimmed-method: The method matching the "where" clause in the shim generator.
  • shim-target: Method matching each of the "callees" object specified in the shim generator.
  • parameters map: Mapping for arguments from shim-target to shimmed-method.

All callsites of the shimmed-method implies calls to all the shim-targets specified with arguments propagated from the shimmed-method to shim-target based on the parameters map.

Specifying Shims

Configuration file

The Mariana Trench binary consumes shim configuration files specified with the argument --shims-paths. Each file contains a json array consisting of shim definitions. Default set of shims can found in shims.json

Shim Definition

Each shim definition object consists of the following keys:

  • find: Currently only option is methods.

  • where: A list of "constraints" which identifies the "shimmed-method". This is same as in model generators.

  • shim: A list of "callees" each of which identifies a "shim-target". Each callees object needs to define the following:

    Receiver for the shim-target

    Receiver can be defined using one of the following keys:

    • static: Used to specify static methods as shim-targets.

      Expected value: A string specifying the dex class containing the shim-target method.

    • type_of: Used to specify an instance argument of the shimmed-method as the receiver.

      Expected value: A string specifying the port/access path of the shimmed-method.

    • reflected_type_of: Used to specify a reflection argument of the shimmed-method as the receiver.

      Expected value: A string specifying the port/access path of the shimmed-method. The type of the specified shimmed-method argument must be: Ljava/lang/Class;.

    Method to call

    Method can be defined using one of the following keys:

    • method_name: Used to specify an existing method of the receiver as the shim-target.

      Expected value: A string specifying the dex proto of the method. This is of the form: <method name>:(<parameter types>)<return type>.

    • lifecycle_name: Used to specify lifecycle method specified using the option --lifecycles-paths as the shim-target.

      Expected value: A string matching the method_name specified in the lifecycle configuration.

    Parameters map (optional)

    A map specifying how the parameters of the shimmed-method should be propagated to the shim-target. If not specified, each argument of the shim-target is mapped to the first argument of the shimmed-method with the matching type.

    Expected format is as follows where the "key" refers to the shim-target and the value refers to the shimmed-method.

    "parameters_map": {
    "Argument(<int>)": "Argument(<int>)",
    ...
    }

Example

class TargetA {    void methodA(Object o) {}}class TargetB {    void methodB(Object o1, Object o2) {}}class TargetC {    static void methodC(Object o) {}}class Shimmed {    void shimMe(A a, Class b, Object o) {}}class Test {    void test() {        new Shimmed().shimMe(new TargetA(), TargetB.class, new Object());    }}

Shim definitions:

{
"find": "methods",
"where": [
{
"constraint": "signature",
"pattern": "LShimmed;\\.shimMe:\\(LTargetA;Ljava/lang/Class;Ljava/lang/Object;\\)V"
}
],
"shim": {
"callees": [
{
"type_of": "Argument(1)",
"method_name": "methodA:(Ljava/lang/Object;)V"
},
{
"reflected_type_of": "Argument(2)",
"method_name": "methodB:(Ljava/lang/Object;Ljava/lang/Object;)V",
"parameters_map": {
"Argument(2)": "Argument(3)"
}
},
{
"static": "LTargetC;",
"method_name": "method:C(Ljava/lang/Object;)V",
"parameters_map": {
"Argument(0)": "Argument(3)"
}
}
]
}
},

With this shim definition, the call to method shimMe() on line X will introduce calls to:

  • LTargetA.methodA:(Ljava/lang/Object;)V where argument o is inferred to be Argument(3) of method LShimmed;.shimMe:(LTargetA;Ljava/lang/Class;Ljava/lang/Object;)V.
  • LTargetB.methodB:(Ljava/lang/Object;)V where argument o2 is mapped to Argument(3) of method LShimmed;.shimMe:(LTargetA;Ljava/lang/Class;Ljava/lang/Object;)V as specified. Note that argument Class b of the shimmed-method is resolved to be TargetB at the callsite.
  • LTargetC.methodC:()V where argument o is mapped to Argument(3) of method LShimmed;.shimMe:(LTargetA;Ljava/lang/Class;Ljava/lang/Object;)V as specified. Note here that we specify Argument(0) of the shim-target in the parameters_map as this is a static method.

Note that when issues are found due to taint flow through shimmed-method to shim-target, the trace following the call-site of the shimmed-method will be the shim-target and a feature via-shim:<shimmed-method> will be introduced at that point.

Sample shim definitions here.