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To broadcast an intent it is passed to Context.sendBroadcast() to be transmitted and interested receivers can receive the intent, dynamically registering themselves by calling Context.registerReceiver() with the specified intentFilter as an argument. Alternatively, receivers can be statically registered by defining the <receiver> tag in the AndroidManifest.xml file.

Chin, et al., [Chin 2011] say: "Broadcasts can be vulnerable to passive eavesdropping or active denial of service attacks. ... Eavesdropping is a risk whenever an application sends a public broadcast. (A public broadcast is an implicit Intent that is not protected by a Signature or SignatureOrSystem permission.) A malicious Broadcast Receiver could eavesdrop on all public broadcasts from all applications by creating an Intent lter that lists all possible actions, data, and categories. There is no indication to the sender or user that the broadcast has been read. Sticky broadcasts are particularly at risk for eavesdropping because they persist and are re-broadcast to new Receivers; consequently, there is a large temporal window for a sticky broadcast Intent to be read. Additionally, sticky broadcasts cannot be protected by permissions."

Furthermore, if the broadcast is an ordered broadcast then a malicious app could register itself with a high priority so as to receive the broadcast first. Then, it could either cancel the broadcast preventing it from being propagated further, thereby causing a denial of service, or it could inject a malicious data result into the broadcast that is ultimately returned to the sender.

Chin, et al., [Chin 2011] also warn against activity and service hijacking resulting from implicit intents. A malicious activity or service can intercept an implicit intent and be started in place of the intended activity or service. This could result in the interception of data or in a denial of service.


This facilitates intent sniffing, see [viaForensics 2014] 26. Android: avoid intent sniffing.





Remediation Cost









Automated Detection

Automatic detection of the use of Context.sendBroadcast() is trivial. It is not feasible to automatically determine whether LocalBroadcastManager.sendBroadcast() can be used instead.


Android Secure Design / Secure Coding Guidebook by JSSEC When sending sensitive information with a broadcast, limit the receivable receiver


[Chin 2011]Analyzing Inter-Application Communication in Android

[JSSEC 2014] When sending sensitive information with a broadcast, limit the receivable receiver

[viaForensics 2014]26. Android: avoid intent sniffing