Reverse Engineering: Explained

Whether it is rebuilding a car engine or a lego set, we learn many things simply by taking them apart and putting them back together again. This process of taking a software system and analyzing it to trace it back to the original design and implementation information is known as reverse engineering. Security researchers use this technique to understand malicious applications and disrupt them.

Reverse engineering can be applied to different aspects of software as well as hardware development activities. In the context of software engineering, reverse engineering entails breaking something down to understand it. Also, build a copy to fix certain bugs in software as well as to enhance product features in both hardware and software. 

For instance, a programmer writes codes in languages like C, C++, Python, Java, etc. and because computers do not speak these languages, the code written in these programming languages is assembled in a machine-specific format so as to interpret them into a low-level language that the machine could understand.

In software security, reverse engineering is widely used to ensure that the system lacks any major security flaws or vulnerabilities. It helps to make a system robust, thereby protecting it from hackers and spyware. Some developers even go as far as hacking their systems so as to identify vulnerabilities – a term referred to as ethical hacking.

The use of reverse engineering is also greatly exercised to identify malicious content in the source code of the software, such as viruses, or to expose security flaws (backdoors, viruses, misconfigurations) and address possible privacy issues.

Researchers can also use this technique to reverse engineer malware to understand how it works to nullify its properties, identify the potential owner, and use the knowledge gained to update their virus databases and prepare mitigation measures for future malware attacks.

Reverse Engineering helps to contribute to a program as well as detect malicious code. If you do not know, the spreading of WannaCry malware was stopped because of studying it after reverse-engineering.

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