Blocking Screen Readers

Screen readers are apps that use the Android accessibility API to read the contents of other apps. This API was designed to facilitate mobile device use for disabled people.

Unfortunately, this feature is frequently misused for other purposes. Some are helpful, such as automation tools, device cleaners, battery savers or AVs. However, the Accessibility API is often abused by malware, especially by apps targeting banking software. Accessibility enables malware to grant itself excessive permissions and to read screen contents of other apps.

Malwarelytics for Android provides a screen reader blocking feature.


Blocking screen readers has certain limitations arising from the Accessibility API design.

An application can specify which data it sends to the accessibility API to be available for screen readers. However, it is impossible to choose to send data only to one specific screen reader. Screen readers have to be either allowed or blocked all at once.


More information on general RASP feature configuration and usage can be found in this overview.

This feature bases its decision whether screen readers should be universally allowed or blocked on two factors: on the blockScreenReaders item of the SDK configuration and a provided list of allowed screen readers. Screen reading is only allowed if all screen readers enabled in the system appear on the list of allowed screen readers.

To simplify usage of the feature Malwarelytics for Android contains a built-in list of allowed screen readers. The list contains several frequently used apps that are designed to help disabled people. The list is used by default and can be found in property RaspConfig.DEFAULT_ALLOWED_SCREEN_READERS. If an app developer wishes to use a different list, it can be provided in the SDK configuration:

val allowList = listOf(
        // specify allowed app by its package name and signature hash (recommended approach)
        RaspConfig.ApkAllowlist("", "9b424c2d27ad51a42a337e0bb6991c76eca44461"),
        // specify allowed app only by its package name (less secure)

val raspConfig = RaspConfig.Builder()
Method Description
defines a collection of allowed screen readers. It is empty by default.
blockScreenReaders(Boolean) indicates whether screen readers should be blocked. Defaults to true. However, screen readers are only blocked if Malwarelytics detects an enabled screen reader that is not whitelisted in allowedScreenReaders.

Allowed screen readers can be specified either by their package name and signature or by their package name only. However, the former is recommended in order to avoid allowing fake (and often malicious) apps.

Obtaining Package Name

Obtaining the app package name is simple – it is listed as a query param id in the URL of the app page on Google Play. For example, the package name of the Android Accessibility Suite is as can be seen in this Google Play URL:

Obtaining App Signature

Obtaining the correct app signature is more complicated because a signed APK is necessary. Installing the app from Google Play is recommended. Next, the APK must be pulled from the device.

Find the APK location on the device:

adb shell pm list packages -f | grep "$PACKAGE$" | sed "s/package://" | sed "s/=$PACKAGE//"

Pull the APK from the device:

adb pull "$APK_LOCATION"

Obtain the signature hash in the right format:

apksigner verify --print-certs ${SOME_APK} | grep "SHA-1" | sed "s/.*: //"

The result is the app signature that can be used as the second argument for RaspConfig.ApkAllowList(String, String).

Frequently Used Accessibility Apps

This is a list of some frequently used legitimate apps that make Android devices more accessible, though by no means exhaustive:

  • Android Accessibility Suite

    RaspConfig.ApkAllowlist("", "9b424c2d27ad51a42a337e0bb6991c76eca44461")

  • Voice Access

    RaspConfig.ApkAllowlist("", "9dda347424376a377f78c4f2966f247270e16974")

  • Sound Amplifier

    RaspConfig.ApkAllowlist("", "26710bdb08f6463b1f5842e2775169e31dd07301")

  • Live Transcribe & Sound Notifications

    RaspConfig.ApkAllowlist("", "16e7d81dbd9baec338e32a5d7e13eec6af87b6d0")

Last updated on Jun 06, 2022 (20:54) View product


Malwarelytics for Android