Home Could I read your PIN/PASSWORD from platform authenticator?

Could I read your PIN/PASSWORD from platform authenticator?

Android Accessibility Service

Android provides accessibility service for disabilities people. This service can access all events on phone’s screen. The security hole is that it can access platform authenticator’s values: pin, password. It introduces downgrading from biometric to PIN/PASS and reduces the security of Passkey/Fido2 (builtin android support in app, not physical fido2 tokens).

Reproduce the flaw

Android has UIAutomation class and command: uiautomator, I use uiautomator - it’s same as UIAutomation class but built as binary.

After enabling adb, on lock screen, run command:

adb shell uiautomator events | grep Text

The result looks like:

20:01-03 16:11:57.531 EventType: TYPE_VIEW_CLICKED; EventTime: 387545686; PackageName: com.android.systemui; MovementGranularity: 0; Action: 0; ContentChangeTypes: []; WindowChangeTypes: [] [ ClassName: android.view.ViewGroup; Text: [DEF, 3]; ContentDescription: 3; ItemCount: -1; CurrentItemIndex: -1; Enabled: true; Password: false; Checked: false; FullScreen: false; Scrollable: false; ImportantForAccessibility: true; AccessibilityDataSensitive: false; BeforeText: null; FromIndex: -1; ToIndex: -1; ScrollX: 0; ScrollY: 0; MaxScrollX: 0; MaxScrollY: 0; ScrollDeltaX: -1; ScrollDeltaY: -1; AddedCount: -1; RemovedCount: -1; ParcelableData: null; DisplayId: 0 ]; recordCount: 0

The plain key [DEF, 3] was there. Now, the accessibility service probably can read the input from platform authenticator. With key emulation, it can authenticate as user on screen with Passkey/Fido2 now.

adb shell input tap x y - switch from biometric to pin/password geometry.
adb shell input text 13337 - input pin/password.


I tested with: Cake By VPBank and VCB Digi Bank, the both are implemented correctly to prevent the service accessing password field:

  • In VCB Digi Bank, they dispatch the accessibility events by delegating events.
  • In Cake By VPBank, they show dot on accessibility Text value. But in fido2 mode - by default, it calls platform authenticator, still exposed pin/password to accessibility service. The password field is no matter here.

It’s very clear, the application must protect itself from accessibility service.

Almost banking applications I tested do not have enough protection.

The question is why google does not prevent accessibility obtaining the pin/password from authenticator platform. It’s system level and it introduces new risk: downgrading from biometric to pin/password.

Google promotes Passkey as new modern authentication method, but leaves the risk with user when platform authenticator is used. The application, indeed, must use biometric only by using UserVerificationMethod. There is no other solution if you use platform authenticator until Google decides patching this issue.

I have another solution, using physical tokens, which authenticate via NFC/Bluetooth like: VinCSS fido2 keys or Yubikey.


Some malwares still exploit this flaw to obtain pin/password to perform further privileged actions.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.