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Communications of the ACM

East Asia and Oceania Region special section: Big trends

Asia's Surging Interest in Binary Analysis


binary code and wavey lines, illustration

Credit: Shutterstock

Binary code analysis (binary analysis, for short) is a vital security approach for protecting commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software and understanding malware, where there is no source code available. From the perspective of computer security, it is imperative to analyze binary code, as source-level scrutiny does not always reveal lurking software bugs due to compiler or interpreter misbehavior.

Since the late 1990s, there has been significant research interest worldwide on binary analysis. The BitBlaze project (by Carnegie Mellon University and University of California, Berkeley)14 is one of the few pioneering research prototypes that incorporates a variety of tools for binary analysis, such as VINE for static analysis, TEMU for dynamic analysis, and Rudder for symbolic execution. Following up on BitBlaze, BAP (by Carnegie Mellon University)3 provides a wealth of APIs that can be used to build a custom binary analyzer, while DECAF (by Syracuse University)7 provides efficient, platform-neutral support for dynamic binary analysis. Angr (by University of California, Santa Barbara)13 offers a user-friendly platform for common binary analysis tasks, such as disassembly, instrumentation, and symbolic execution that are utilized by an active user community.


 

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