CAPEC-189 - Software Reverse Engineering

An attacker discovers the structure, function, and composition of a type of computer software by using a variety of analysis techniques to effectively determine how the software functions and operates, or if vulnerabilities or security weakness are present within the implementation. Reverse engineering methods, as applied to software, can utilize a wide number approaches and techniques.

Methodologies for software reverse engineering fall into two broad categories, 'white box' and 'black box.' White box techniques involve methods which can be applied to a piece of software when an executable or some other compiled object can be directly subjected to analysis, revealing at least a portion of its machine instructions that can be observed upon execution. 'Black Box' methods involve interacting with the software indirectly, in the absence of the ability to measure, instrument, or analyze an executable object directly. Such analysis typically involves interacting with the software at the boundaries of where the software interfaces with a larger execution environment, such as input-output vectors, libraries, or APIs.






Reverse engineering of software requires varying tools and methods depending upon whether an executable or other compiled object is present directly for analysis by tools capable of decompiling or monitoring its execution within an operating environment, as in the case of white box methods. Black box methods require (at minimum) the ability to interact with the functional boundaries where the software communicates with a larger processing environment, such as inter-process communication on a host operating system, or via networking protocols.