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Rendezvous: A search engine for code

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The established approach to reverse engineering is decompilation, that is, the creation of high-level language code from machine code via disassembly, data-flow analysis, control-flow analysis, data type recovery and finally code generation. However, most large programs nowadays are put together from existing sources, with the addition of a small amount of new code. Much software is either available in public repositories of free and open-source software, or has appeared in previous offerings from the same vendor (or both). Large programs are put together from many small modules, most of which do standard things; new implementations often do standard things in slightly improved ways.

So we reframe the problem of understanding machine code as a search problem. We are building a search engine that indexes the available source and machine code, and treats decompilation as a source-binary matching problem. We have developed tools that index both disassembled procedures and source code libraries in multiple languages using a novel combination of test-based indexing, perturbation indexing, perturbation analysis, code translation and type inference. Experiments show that Rendezvous is able to match routines from several source code repositories and common C library routines; it already outperforms the current state-of-the-art binary matching tool BinDiff. Our innovation will bring radical changes to a number of areas, from vulnerability analysis through code obfuscation and patch management to copyright enforcement.

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Security Seminar series.

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