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Sustainability, Volume 10, Issue 4 (April 2018)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) Deep within the western Himalayas, farmers are adapting to rapid changes in their environment. [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle The Effects of Diversification Activities on the Technical Efficiency of Organic Farms in Switzerland, Austria, and Southern Germany
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1304; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041304
Received: 5 March 2018 / Revised: 13 April 2018 / Accepted: 16 April 2018 / Published: 23 April 2018
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Abstract
The diversification of farms can be a result of multifunctional farming, however, in some cases at the cost of lower farm efficiency. In our paper we investigate the influence of para-agricultural diversification on productivity and the technical efficiency of organic farms in Austria,
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The diversification of farms can be a result of multifunctional farming, however, in some cases at the cost of lower farm efficiency. In our paper we investigate the influence of para-agricultural diversification on productivity and the technical efficiency of organic farms in Austria, Switzerland, and Southern Germany. We show the benefits and drawbacks of diversification for organic farms, which go beyond the core agricultural production (para-agriculture). We do this by estimating a Stochastic Frontier (SF) combined with a metafrontier model. The data-set consists of bookkeeping data with 1704 observations in the years 2003 to 2005. Para-agricultural diversification activities have a significant effect on both productivity and technical efficiency of organic farms: The farm output in Austria and Switzerland is positively influenced by diversification, whereas we observe a rather small effect in Southern Germany. On the other hand, diversification can reduce farms’ technical efficiency, as it is the case in Switzerland and Germany. Furthermore, our study confirms previous results that agricultural subsidies significantly influence the technical efficiency of organic farms. We also show expected changes of input use driven by increased farm diversification. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Simplicity and Sustainability: Pointers from Ethics and Science
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1303; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041303
Received: 14 December 2017 / Revised: 6 April 2018 / Accepted: 19 April 2018 / Published: 23 April 2018
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Abstract
In this paper, we explore the notion of simplicity. We use definitions of simplicity proposed by philosophers, scientists, and economists. In an age when the rapidly growing human population faces an equally rapidly declining energy/material resources, there is an urgent need to consider
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In this paper, we explore the notion of simplicity. We use definitions of simplicity proposed by philosophers, scientists, and economists. In an age when the rapidly growing human population faces an equally rapidly declining energy/material resources, there is an urgent need to consider various notions of simplicity, collective and individual, which we believe to be a sensible path to restore our planet to a reasonable state of health. Following the logic of mathematicians and physicists, we suggest that simplicity can be related to sustainability. Our efforts must therefore not be spent so much in pursuit of growth but in achieving a sustainable life. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Hybrid Electric Vehicles: Some Theoretical Considerations on Consumption Behaviour
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1302; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041302
Received: 10 March 2018 / Revised: 17 April 2018 / Accepted: 18 April 2018 / Published: 23 April 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (508 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Solving the problem of the lack of environmental sustainability in transport activities requires the involvement of new technologies, particularly in populated cities where mobility activities play a major role in generating externalities. The move from cars powered by conventional internal combustion engines to
[...] Read more.
Solving the problem of the lack of environmental sustainability in transport activities requires the involvement of new technologies, particularly in populated cities where mobility activities play a major role in generating externalities. The move from cars powered by conventional internal combustion engines to cars powered by alternative energies can make an important contribution to reducing emissions and achieving a more sustainable transport system. Unfortunately, green car market development still remains uncertain because of the higher production costs of batteries and engines. In this context, surprisingly little attention has been devoted to analysing the economic factors affecting consumers’ behaviour in the choice of hybrid electric vehicles. To fill this gap, the diffusion process of hybrid technology as well as intrinsic and extrinsic motivations and the crowding-out effect on consumers’ purchasing decisions are taken under consideration. Finally, some policy recommendations are provided. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Economic, Business and Management Aspects of Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle Results from On-The-Ground Efforts to Promote Sustainable Cattle Ranching in the Brazilian Amazon
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1301; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041301
Received: 12 March 2018 / Revised: 14 April 2018 / Accepted: 16 April 2018 / Published: 23 April 2018
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Abstract
Agriculture in Brazil is booming. Brazil has the world’s second largest cattle herd and is the second largest producer of soybeans, with the production of beef, soybeans, and bioethanol forecast to increase further. Questions remain, however, about how Brazil can reconcile increases in
[...] Read more.
Agriculture in Brazil is booming. Brazil has the world’s second largest cattle herd and is the second largest producer of soybeans, with the production of beef, soybeans, and bioethanol forecast to increase further. Questions remain, however, about how Brazil can reconcile increases in agricultural production with protection of its remaining natural vegetation. While high hopes have been placed on the potential for intensification of low-productivity cattle ranching to spare land for other agricultural uses, cattle productivity in the Amazon biome (29% of the Brazilian cattle herd) remains stubbornly low, and it is not clear how to realize theoretical productivity gains in practice. We provide results from six initiatives in the Brazilian Amazon, which are successfully improving cattle productivity in beef and dairy production on more than 500,000 hectares of pastureland, while supporting compliance with the Brazilian Forest Code. Spread across diverse geographies, and using a wide range of technologies, participating farms have improved productivity by 30–490%. High-productivity cattle ranching requires some initial investment (R$1300–6900/ha or US$410–2180/ha), with average pay-back times of 2.5–8.5 years. We conclude by reflecting on the challenges that must be overcome to scale up these young initiatives, avoid rebound increases in deforestation, and mainstream sustainable cattle ranching in the Amazon. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmentally Sustainable Livestock Production)
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Open AccessReview What Is Going on with Stakeholder Theory in Project Management Literature? A Symbiotic Relationship for Sustainability
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1300; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041300
Received: 31 March 2018 / Revised: 19 April 2018 / Accepted: 22 April 2018 / Published: 23 April 2018
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Abstract
Nowadays the advance towards sustainability poses a global challenge for modern society as well as for companies. Professionals and academics continually redefine business processes and design management mechanisms in a more appropriate way in order to allow companies to balance economic activity with
[...] Read more.
Nowadays the advance towards sustainability poses a global challenge for modern society as well as for companies. Professionals and academics continually redefine business processes and design management mechanisms in a more appropriate way in order to allow companies to balance economic activity with the environmental and social impact that they generate. Under this complex and dynamic scenario, creating a product, providing a service, or achieving a given result requires a different interpretation of the efficiency paradigm and an adequate socio-environmental intelligence. In the context of project management, sustainability-related knowledge, skills, and suitable tools are necessary to face this challenge. Moreover, its close relationship with stakeholder theory presents an alternative to approach that purpose. This article attempts a systematic review of the literature on stakeholder theory in project management during the past nine years, with the aim of providing a comprehensive view of this relationship, revealing its impact and influence on sustainability, and finding new research paths. We highlight the potential benefits derived from this relationship, either as an instrument for the promotion of corporate social responsibility and inclusive policies, as a means for the generation of shared value and technological innovation, or as a key factor in the strategy and business management of a given project. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Project Management and Sustainable Development)
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Open AccessArticle Simulating Spatial-Temporal Changes of Land-Use Based on Ecological Redline Restrictions and Landscape Driving Factors: A Case Study in Beijing
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1299; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041299
Received: 18 March 2018 / Revised: 19 April 2018 / Accepted: 20 April 2018 / Published: 23 April 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (2916 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A change in the usage of land is influenced by a variety of driving factors and policies on spatial constraints. On the basis of considering the conventional natural and socio-economic indicators, the landscape pattern indicators were considered as new driving forces in the
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A change in the usage of land is influenced by a variety of driving factors and policies on spatial constraints. On the basis of considering the conventional natural and socio-economic indicators, the landscape pattern indicators were considered as new driving forces in the conversion of land use and its effects at small regional extent (CLUE-S) model to simulate spatial and temporal changes of land-use in Beijing. Compared with traditional spatial restrictions characterized by small and isolated areas, such as forest parks and natural reserves, the ecological redline areas increase the spatial integrity and connectivity of ecological and environmental functions at a regional scale, which were used to analyze the distribution patterns and behaviors of land use conversion in the CLUE-S model. The observed results indicate that each simulation scenario has a Kappa coefficient of more than 0.76 beyond the threshold value of 0.6 and represents high agreements between the actual and simulated land use maps. The simulation scenarios including landscape pattern indicators are more accurate than those without consideration of these new driving forces. The simulation results from using ecological redline areas as space constraints have the highest precision compared with the unrestricted and traditionally restricted scenarios. Therefore, the CLUE-S model based on the restriction of ecological redline and the consideration of landscape pattern factors has shown better effectiveness in simulating the future land use change. The conversion of land use types mainly occurred between construction land and cropland during the period from 2010 to 2020. Meanwhile, a large number of grasslands are being changed to construction lands in the mountain towns of northwest Beijing and large quantities of water bodies have disappeared and been replaced by construction lands due to rapid urbanization in the eastern and southern plains. To improve the sustainable use of land resources, it is necessary to adopt the construction and development mode of satellite towns rather than encouraging a disorderly expansion of downtown areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Land Uses and Rural Governance)
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Open AccessArticle Walled Buildings, Sustainability, and Housing Prices: An Artificial Neural Network Approach
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1298; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041298
Received: 1 March 2018 / Revised: 6 April 2018 / Accepted: 17 April 2018 / Published: 23 April 2018
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Abstract
Various researchers have explored the adverse effects of walled buildings on human health. However, few of them have examined the relationship between walled buildings and private housing estates in Hong Kong. This study endeavors to fill the research gap by exploring the connections
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Various researchers have explored the adverse effects of walled buildings on human health. However, few of them have examined the relationship between walled buildings and private housing estates in Hong Kong. This study endeavors to fill the research gap by exploring the connections among walled-building effects, housing features, macroeconomic factors, and housing prices in private housing estates. Specifically, it reveals the relationship between walled buildings and housing prices. Eight privately owned housing estates are selected with a total of 11,365 observations. Results are analyzed to study the factors that affect the housing price. Firstly, unit root tests are carried out to evaluate if the time series variables follow the unit root process. Secondly, the relationship between walled buildings and housing price is examined by conducting an artificial neural network. We assumed that the housing price reduces due to walled-building effects, given that previous literature showed that heat island effect, and blockage of natural light and views, are common in walled-building districts. Moreover, we assume that housing price can also be affected by macroeconomic factors and housing features, and these effects vary among private housing estates. We also study these impacts by using the two models. Recommendations and possible solutions are suggested at the end of the research paper. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Built Environment)
Open AccessArticle Financing Target and Resale Pricing in Reward-Based Crowdfunding
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1297; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041297
Received: 4 March 2018 / Revised: 8 April 2018 / Accepted: 10 April 2018 / Published: 23 April 2018
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1617 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Resale is an effective tool for reward-based crowdfunding creators to make more profit after crowdfunding successfully. On the one hand, funds raised during the crowdfunding affect the resale pricing as a capital constraint; on the other hand, backers’ strategic purchasing behavior in the
[...] Read more.
Resale is an effective tool for reward-based crowdfunding creators to make more profit after crowdfunding successfully. On the one hand, funds raised during the crowdfunding affect the resale pricing as a capital constraint; on the other hand, backers’ strategic purchasing behavior in the resale stage can also disturb the creator’s financing target decision-making through affecting resale pricing. In view of this, this paper builds a two-stage crowdfunding model to examine the interaction between the financing target and resale pricing in the presence of strategic backers. The results show that a lower financing amount leads to higher prices in the resale stage due to the rationing effect, and suppresses price volatility due to strategic purchasing behavior. In contrast, a higher financing amount enables the creator to build a large capacity, which does not restrict the resale prices and profit. Besides, in the context of high unit production cost or high backer patience level, there is no need for the creator to set a high financing target at the risk of crowdfunding failure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Internet Finance, Green Finance and Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle Constructing Differentiated Educational Materials Using Semantic Annotation for Sustainable Education in IoT Environments
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1296; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041296
Received: 21 March 2018 / Revised: 13 April 2018 / Accepted: 16 April 2018 / Published: 23 April 2018
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Abstract
Recently, Internet of Things (IoT) technology has become a hot trend and is used in a wide variety of fields. For instance, in education, this technology contributes to improving learning efficiency in the class by enabling learners to interact with physical devices and
[...] Read more.
Recently, Internet of Things (IoT) technology has become a hot trend and is used in a wide variety of fields. For instance, in education, this technology contributes to improving learning efficiency in the class by enabling learners to interact with physical devices and providing appropriate learning content based on this interaction. Such interaction data can be collected through the physical devices to define personal data. In the meanwhile, multimedia contents in this environment usually have a wide variety of formats and standards, making it difficult for computers to understand their meaning and reuse them. This could be a serious obstacle to the effective use or sustainable management of educational contents in IoT-based educational systems. In order to solve this problem, in this paper, we propose a semantic annotation scheme for sustainable computing in the IoT environment. More specifically, we first show how to collect appropriate multimedia contents and interaction data. Next, we calculate the readability of learning materials and define the user readability level to provide appropriate contents to the learners. Finally, we describe our semantic annotation scheme and show how to annotate collected data using our scheme. We implement a prototype system and show that our scheme can achieve efficient management of various learning materials in the IoT-based educational system. Full article
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Open AccessArticle A Sustainable Closed-Loop Supply Chain Decision Mechanism in the Electronic Sector
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1295; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041295
Received: 1 March 2018 / Revised: 16 April 2018 / Accepted: 17 April 2018 / Published: 23 April 2018
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (608 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In a closed-loop supply chain for electronic products, the manufacturer’s priority is to enhance the residual value of the collected end-of-use product and decide whether to outsource this business to a retailer, a third-party service, or retain it exclusively. In this paper, we
[...] Read more.
In a closed-loop supply chain for electronic products, the manufacturer’s priority is to enhance the residual value of the collected end-of-use product and decide whether to outsource this business to a retailer, a third-party service, or retain it exclusively. In this paper, we constructed three models to study the decision mechanism in a closed-loop supply chain, with different players selected to collect the used product. By comparing the three models, we characterized the conditions under which the manufacturer will benefit most, and we then aimed to determine the best choice for the manufacturer. Our findings show that, when the retailer and the third-party service provider provide equal performance in collecting the used product, the manufacturer will give priority to the third-party service provider if they choose to outsource this business. If the reverse flows managed by the retailer result in a higher payoff for the manufacturer, then the manufacturer will choose to outsource this business to the retailer who will also benefit. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Assessment of Government Incentives for Energy from Waste in Colombia
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1294; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041294
Received: 25 February 2018 / Revised: 13 April 2018 / Accepted: 19 April 2018 / Published: 23 April 2018
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Abstract
This work evaluates the prefeasibility of energy from waste projects in Colombia under the guidelines of Law 1715. That piece of legislation proposes tax incentives for non-conventional energy initiatives, such as deductions of up to 50% on the investment through income tax, VAT
[...] Read more.
This work evaluates the prefeasibility of energy from waste projects in Colombia under the guidelines of Law 1715. That piece of legislation proposes tax incentives for non-conventional energy initiatives, such as deductions of up to 50% on the investment through income tax, VAT exemption, tariff exemption, and accelerated depreciation of assets. Pasto, Colombia, was selected as the case study. Subsequently, incineration, gasification, anaerobic digestion, and landfill gas technologies were evaluated. The potential of electric power generation from municipal solid waste (MSW) of each conversion technology was estimated with mathematical models. Additionally, the economic evaluation considered five cases that combine loan options, accelerated depreciation, and income deductions. Finally, the prefeasibility analysis of each case and technology was based on the internal rate of return (IRR) and levelized cost of electricity (LCOE). The results reveal that only anaerobic digestion and landfill gas technologies constitute viable projects in case of traditional investment with and without loans, because they present IRRs greater than the discount rate, of 6.8%. However, by including the incentives in Law 1715 in the economic evaluation, IRRs of 11.18%, 7.96%, 14.27%, and 13.59% were obtained for incineration, gasification, anaerobic digestion, and landfill gas, respectively. These results make all four technologies feasible in this context. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Simulating and Predicting the Impacts of Light Rail Transit Systems on Urban Land Use by Using Cellular Automata: A Case Study of Dongguan, China
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1293; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041293
Received: 24 March 2018 / Revised: 20 April 2018 / Accepted: 20 April 2018 / Published: 23 April 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2865 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The emergence of Light Rail Transit systems (LRTs) could exert considerable impacts on sustainable urban development. It is crucial to predict the potential land use changes since LRTs are being increasingly built throughout the world. While various land use and land cover change
[...] Read more.
The emergence of Light Rail Transit systems (LRTs) could exert considerable impacts on sustainable urban development. It is crucial to predict the potential land use changes since LRTs are being increasingly built throughout the world. While various land use and land cover change (LUCC) models have been developed during the past two decades, the basic assumption for LUCC prediction is the continuation of present trends in land use development. It is therefore unreasonable to predict potential urban land use changes associated with LRTs simply based on earlier trends because the impacts of LRT investment may vary greatly over time. To tackle this challenge, our study aims to share the experiences from previous lines with newly planned lines. Dongguan, whose government decided to build LRTs around 2008, was selected as the study area. First, we assessed the impacts of this city’s first LRT (Line R2) on three urban land use types (i.e., industrial development, commercial and residential development, and rural development) at different periods. The results indicate that Line R2 exerted a negative impact on industrial development and rural development, but a positive impact on commercial and residential development during the planning stage of this line. Second, such spatial impacts (the consequent land use changes) during this stage were simulated by using artificial neural network cellular automata. More importantly, we further predicted the potential impacts of Line R1, which is assumed to be a newly planned line, based on the above calibrated model and a traditional method respectively. The comparisons between them demonstrate the effectiveness of our method, which can easily take advantage of the experiences from other LRTs. The proposed method is expected to provide technical support for sustainable urban and transportation planning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Transportation)
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Open AccessArticle Measurements and Factors That Influence the Carbon Capability of Urban Residents in China
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1292; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041292
Received: 23 March 2018 / Revised: 16 April 2018 / Accepted: 19 April 2018 / Published: 23 April 2018
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Abstract
Due to the rapid growth in residential energy consumption, there is an urgent need to reduce carbon emissions from the consumer side, which requires improvements in the carbon capability of urban residents. In this study, previous investigations of carbon capability were analyzed and
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Due to the rapid growth in residential energy consumption, there is an urgent need to reduce carbon emissions from the consumer side, which requires improvements in the carbon capability of urban residents. In this study, previous investigations of carbon capability were analyzed and classified into four dimensions: carbon knowledge capability, carbon motivation capability, carbon behavior capability, and carbon management capability. According to grounded theory, a quantitative research model was constructed of the carbon capability of urban residents in Jiangsu, which was used to conduct a questionnaire survey. SPSS 19.0 and LatentGOLD were employed to process the questionnaire data and the carbon capability of the residents was evaluated. The results showed that the residents of Jiangsu Province could be divided into six groups based on their different carbon capabilities, where these six major groups accounted for 28.19%, 21.21%, 18.33%, 15.84%, 9.88%, and 6.55% of the total sample. Gender, age, occupation, and educational level had significant effects on the carbon capabilities of residents, whereas the annual household income and household population had no significant effects. According to the characteristics of each cluster based on the four carbon capability dimensions, the six clusters were designated as “balanced steady cluster”, “self-restraint cluster”, “fully backward cluster”, “comprehensive leading cluster”, “slightly cognitive cluster”, and “restrain others cluster”. Quantitative analysis showed that 61.93% of the residents of Jiangsu reached the qualified rate for the carbon capability but the excellent rate was only 15.84%. Relevant policy implications are suggested based on these conclusions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Green Logistic Provider Selection with a Hesitant Fuzzy Linguistic Thermodynamic Method Integrating Cumulative Prospect Theory and PROMETHEE
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1291; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041291
Received: 10 March 2018 / Revised: 12 April 2018 / Accepted: 20 April 2018 / Published: 22 April 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (311 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In the process of evaluating the green levels of cold-chain logistics providers, experts may hesitate between several linguistic terms rather than give precise values over the alternatives. Due to the potential profit and risk of business decisions, decision-making information is often based on
[...] Read more.
In the process of evaluating the green levels of cold-chain logistics providers, experts may hesitate between several linguistic terms rather than give precise values over the alternatives. Due to the potential profit and risk of business decisions, decision-making information is often based on experts’ expectations of programs and is expressed as hesitant fuzzy linguistic terms. The consistency of evaluation information of an alternative can reflect the clarity of the alternative in the mind of experts and its own controversy. This paper proposes a method to use the value transfer function in the cumulative prospect theory to convert the original hesitant fuzzy linguistic terms into evaluation information based on reference points. We also introduce the parameters related to the disorder of the system in the hesitant fuzzy thermodynamic method to describe the quantity and quality characteristics of the alternatives. In these kinds of multi-criteria decision-making problems, the weights of criteria are of great importance for decision-making results. Considering the conflicting cases among criteria, the weights were obtained by utilizing the PROMETHEE method. An illustrative example concerning green logistics provider selection was operated to show the practicability of the proposed method. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Economic, Business and Management Aspects of Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Efficient Protection of Android Applications through User Authentication Using Peripheral Devices
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1290; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041290
Received: 22 March 2018 / Revised: 17 April 2018 / Accepted: 20 April 2018 / Published: 22 April 2018
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Abstract
Android applications store large amounts of sensitive information that may be exposed and exploited. To prevent this security risk, some applications such as Syrup and KakaoTalk use physical device values to authenticate or encrypt application data. However, by manipulating these physical device values,
[...] Read more.
Android applications store large amounts of sensitive information that may be exposed and exploited. To prevent this security risk, some applications such as Syrup and KakaoTalk use physical device values to authenticate or encrypt application data. However, by manipulating these physical device values, an attacker can circumvent the authentication by executing a Same Identifier Attack and obtain the same application privileges as the user. In our work, WhatsApp, KakaoTalk, Facebook, Amazon, and Syrup were subjected to the Same Identifier Attack, and it was found that an attacker could gain the same privileges as the user, in all five applications. To solve such a problem, we propose a technical scheme—User Authentication using Peripheral Devices. We applied the proposed scheme to a Nexus 5X smartphone running Android version 7.1 and confirmed that the average execution time was 0.005 s, which does not affect the other applications’ execution significantly. We also describe the security aspects of the proposed scheme and its compatibility with the Android platform and other applications. The proposed scheme is practical and efficient in terms of resource usage; therefore, it will be useful for Android users to improve Android application security. Full article
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