BINARY LITERACY: SYSTEMATIC STATIC REVERSE ENGINEERING
This five-day course, battle tested after having been taught more than two dozen times, focuses on the static aspects of reverse engineering. Namely, the act of deriving meaning from assembly code simply by reading it. The material has been updated to increase focus upon C++, and has been re-written from scratch in a modern typesetting package.
Here is a sample of the course material: Compiler Optimizations (PPT format).
As the title implies, this course is about analyzing software systems without executing them, as though one was reading a novel. Starting from the basic letters (assembly language instructions), words (basic blocks) are constructed; from there sentences (functions) may be put together. These are organized into paragraphs (modules) which, taken together, form the bulk of chapters (executable objects). Finally, a collection of chapters makes up a book (software system).
The course begins by systematically examining the process of compiling C code into assembly language, and how to manually decompile assembly language back into C. All of these examples come from real-world binaries. Prior experience teaching this course shows that this gives students a good grounding in reading assembly language.
Understanding the structure of a sentence is not enough to understand its actual meaning, or that understanding one sentence is not enough to understand a paragraph, etc. Decompilation is therefore not enough: the human analyst needs techniques to comprehend the code that he or she is seeing. We will thus proceed with techniques to derive semantic meaning from assembly code.
With the above in hand, we are prepared to statically analyze any C-compiled binary of our choosing, and we shall spend the rest of the class reverse engineering binaries both in live and individual sessions. These binaries will consist of live malware, but it needs to be stressed that this is not a course on malware specifically: it is a course on reverse engineering in general, and its techniques are applicable to all sub-fields thereof (e.g. malware, security, interoperability).
Requirements: A laptop with IDA Pro installed on it (any recent version will do); a firm grasp of the English language; exposure to x86 assembly language is assumed (it will be briefly reviewed, but not treated in depth).
"I've taken a bunch of trainings and [Binary Literacy] is in my top three. It sparked my interest in becoming better at static analysis and reasoning about programs. It was a fantastic training that I'd recommend to anyone."
"Rolf's Binary Literacy course was excellent and easily the best training course I have taken. The course helped set me on my way in reverse engineering as a career path. The structure and style of the course was well done and it helped me "connect the dots" with many things that were not clear to me prior to the course and has helped me achieve a senior level position just over 2 years after taking the course."