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Encyclopedia > Reverse engineering

Reverse engineering (RE) is the process of discovering the technological principles of a device or object or system through analysis of its structure, function and operation. It often involves taking something (e.g. a mechanical device, an electronic component, a software program) apart and analyzing its workings in detail, usually to try to make a new device or program that does the same thing without copying anything from the original. This article is about devices that perform tasks. ... Various components An electronic component is a basic electronic element usually packaged in a discrete form with two or more connecting leads or metallic pads. ... Computer software (or simply software) refers to one or more computer programs and data held in the storage of a computer for some purpose. ...

In the United States and many other countries, even if an artifact or process is protected by trade secrets, reverse-engineering the artifact or process is often lawful as long as it is obtained legitimately. Patents, on the other hand, need a public disclosure of an invention, and therefore patented items do not necessarily have to be reverse engineered to be studied. One common motivation of reverse engineers is to determine whether a competitor's product contains patent infringements or copyright infringements. A trade secret is a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, or compilation of information used by a business to obtain an advantage over competitors within the same industry or profession. ... For other uses, see Patent (disambiguation). ... For the musical form, see Invention (music). ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ... The Cathach of St. ...


Types and applications of reverse engineering

As computer-aided design has become more popular, reverse engineering has become a viable method to create a 3D virtual model of an existing physical part for use in 3D CAD, CAM, CAE and other software. The reverse engineering process involves measuring an object and then reconstructing it as a 3D model. The physical object can be measured using 3D scanning technologies like CMMs, laser scanners, structured light digitizers or computed tomography. The measured data alone, usually represented as a point cloud, lacks topological information and is therefore often processed and modeled into a more usable format such as a triangular faced mesh, a set of NURBS surfaces or a CAD model. Applications like Imageware, PolyWorks, Rapidform or Geomagic are used to process the point clouds themselves into formats usable in other applications such as 3D CAD, CAM, CAE or visualization. CADD and CAD redirect here. ... CADD and CAD redirect here. ... Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) is the use of a wide range of computer-based software tools that assist engineers and CNC machinists in the manufacture or prototyping of product components. ... Computer-aided Engineering analysis (often referred to as CAE) is the application of computer software in engineering to analyze the robustness and performance of components and assemblies. ... A 3D scanner is a device that analyzes a real-world object or environment to collect data on its shape and possibly its appearance (i. ... A coordinate-measuring machine (CMM) is a device for dimensional measuring. ... A 3D scanner is a device that analyzes a real-world object or environment to collect data on its shape and possibly its appearance (i. ... A 3D scanner is a device that analyzes a real-world object or environment to collect data on its shape and possibly its appearance (i. ... negron305 Cat scan redirects here. ... In computer science, a point cloud is a set of three-dimensional points. ... NURBS, short for nonuniform rational B-spline, is a computer graphics technique for drawing curves. ...

Reverse engineering is often used by military in order to copy other nations' technology, devices or information, or parts of which, have been obtained by regular troops in the fields or by intelligence operations. It was often used during the Second World War and the Cold War. Well-known examples from WWII include: By the mid 20th century humans had achieved a mastery of technology sufficient to leave the surface of the Earth for the first time and explore space. ... Military intelligence (abbreviated MI, int. ... Mushroom cloud from the nuclear explosion over Nagasaki rising 18 km into the air. ... For other uses, see Cold War (disambiguation). ...

  • Jerry can: British and American forces noticed that the Germans had gasoline cans with an excellent design. They reverse engineered copies of those cans. The cans were popularly known as Jerry cans.
  • Tupolev Tu-4: Three American B-29 bombers on missions over Japan were forced to land in the USSR. The Soviets, who did not have a similar strategic bomber, decided to copy the B-29. Within a few years they had developed the Tu-4, a near perfect copy.
  • V2 Rocket: Technical documents for the V2 and related technologies were captured by the Western Allies at the end of the war. Soviet and captured German engineers had to reproduce technical documents and plans, working from captured hardware, in order to make their clone of the rocket, the R-1, which began the postwar Soviet rocket program that led to the R-7 and the beginning of the space race.

Reverse engineering software or hardware systems which is done for the purposes of interoperability (for example, to support undocumented file formats or undocumented hardware peripherals), is mostly believed to be legal, though patent owners often contest this and attempt to stifle any reverse engineering of their products for any reason. A jerrycan or jerrican or jerry can is a robust fuel container made from pressed steel. ... The Tupolev Tu-4 (NATO reporting name: Bull) was a piston-engined Soviet strategic bomber which served the Soviet Air Force from the late 1940s to mid 1960s. ... The Boeing B-29 Superfortress was a four-engine heavy bomber propeller aircraft flown by the United States Army Air Forces in World War II and other military organizations afterwards. ... German test launch. ... The R-1 rocket (NATO reporting name SS-1 Scunner) (and its evolved version R-2 or SS-2 Sibling) was a copy of the German V-2 rocket manufactured by the Soviet Union. ... R-7 with Sputnik 2 The R-7 Semyorka was the worlds first intercontinental ballistic missile and was deployed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War from 1959 to 1968. ... For other uses, see Space Race (disambiguation). ... Interoperability is connecting people, data and diverse systems. ...

On a related note, black box testing in software engineering has a lot in common with reverse-engineering. The tester usually has the API, but his goals are to find bugs and undocumented features by bashing the product from outside. Black box testing takes an external perspective of the test object to derive test cases. ... Software engineering is the application of a systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach to the development, operation, and maintenance of software. ... API and Api redirect here. ...

Other purposes of reverse engineering include security auditing, removal of copy protection ("cracking"), circumvention of access restrictions often present in consumer electronics, customization of embedded systems (such as engine management systems), in-house repairs or retrofits, enabling of additional features on low-cost "crippled" hardware (such as some graphics card chipsets), or even mere satisfaction of curiosity. Software cracking is the modification of software to remove protection methods: copy prevention, trial/demo version, serial number, hardware key, CD check or software annoyances like nag screens and adware. ... Consumer electronics is a term used to describe the category of electronic equipment intended for everyday use by people, the consumers. ... What is an Embedded System? Electronic devices that incorporate a computer(usually a microprocessor) within their implementation. ...

Reverse engineering is also used by businesses to bring existing physical geometry into digital product development environments, to make a digital 3D record of their own products or assess competitors' products. It is used to analyze, for instance, how a product works, what it does, what components it consists of, estimate costs, identify potential patent infringement, etc. For other uses, see Patent (disambiguation). ...

Value engineering is a related activity also used by business. It involves deconstructing and analysing products, but the objective is to find opportunities for cost cutting. Value Engineering is a systematic method to improve the Value of goods and services by using an examination of function. ...

Finally, reverse engineering often is done because the documentation of a particular device has been lost (or was never written), and the person who built the thing is no longer working at the company. Integrated circuits often seem to have been designed on obsolete, proprietary systems, which means that the only way to incorporate the functionality into new technology is to reverse-engineer the existing chip and then re-design it.

Reverse engineering of software

Wikibooks' [[wikibooks:|]] has more about this subject:
Reverse Engineering

The term "reverse engineering" as applied to software means different things to different people, prompting Chikofsky and Cross to write a paper researching the various uses and defining a taxonomy. From their paper:
Reverse engineering is the process of analyzing a subject system to create representations of the system at a higher level of abstraction.[1] It can also be seen as "going backwards through the development cycle".[2] In this model, the output of the implementation phase (in source code form) is reverse engineered back to the analysis phase, in an inversion of the traditional waterfall model. Reverse engineering is a process of examination only: the software system under consideration is not modified (which would make it reengineering). Software anti-tamper technology is used to deter both reverse engineering and reengineering of proprietary software and software-powered systems. In practice, two main types of reverse engineering emerge. In the first case, source code is already available for the software, but higher level aspects of the program, perhaps poorly documented or documented but no longer valid, are discovered. In the second case, there is no source code available for the software, and any efforts towards discovering one possible source code for the software are regarded as reverse engineering. This second usage of the term is the one most people are familiar with. Reverse engineering of software can make use of the clean room design technique to avoid infringing copyrights. Image File history File links Wikibooks-logo-en. ... Look up taxonomy in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The waterfall model is a sequential software development model (a process for the creation of software) in which development is seen as flowing steadily downwards (like a waterfall) through the phases of requirements analysis, design, implementation, testing (validation), integration, and maintenance. ... The reengineering of software was described by Chikofsky and Cross in their 1990 paper, Reverse Engineering and Design Recovery: A Taxonomy, as the examination and alteration of a system to reconstitute it in a new form. Less formally, reengineering is the modification of a software system that takes place after... Anti-tamper (AT) is defined as the systems engineering activities intended to prevent or delay exploitation of essential or critical technologies in U.S. weapon systems or the private sector. ... For the meaning of Cleanroom engineering in software development, see Cleanroom Software Engineering. ...

Binary software

This process is sometimes termed Reverse Code Engineering or RCE.[3] As an example, decompilation of binaries for the Java platform can be accomplished using Jad. One famous case of reverse engineering was the first non-IBM implementation of the PC BIOS which launched the historic IBM PC compatible industry that has been the overwhelmingly dominant computer hardware platform for many years. An example of a group that reverse engineers software for enjoyment is CORE which stands for "Challenges Of Reverse Engineering". In the United States, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act exempts from the circumvention ban some acts of reverse engineering aimed at interoperability of file formats and protocols, but judges in key cases have ignored this law, since it is acceptable to circumvent restrictions for use, but not for access.[4] Aside from restrictions on circumvention, reverse engineering of software is protected in the U.S. by the fair use exception in copyright law.[5] The Samba software, which allows systems that are not running Microsoft Windows systems to share files with systems that are, is a classic example of software reverse engineering[citation needed], since the Samba project had to reverse-engineer unpublished information about how Windows file sharing worked, so that non-Windows computers could emulate it. The Wine project does the same thing for the Windows API, and OpenOffice.org is one party doing this for the Microsoft Office file formats. The ReactOS project is even more ambitious in its goals as it strives to provide binary (ABI and API) compatibility with the current Windows OSes of the NT branch, allowing software and drivers written for Windows to run on a clean room reverse engineered GPL open source counterpart. The Java platform is the name for a bundle of related programs, or platform, from Sun Microsystems which allow for developing and running programs written in the Java programming language. ... International Business Machines Corporation (IBM, or colloquially, Big Blue) (NYSE: IBM) (incorporated June 15, 1911, in operation since 1888) is headquartered in Armonk, New York, USA. The company manufactures and sells computer hardware, software, and services. ... IBM PC (IBM 5150) with keyboard and green screen monochrome monitor (IBM 5151), running MS-DOS 5. ... For other uses, see Bios. ... The Columbia MPC was one of the many IBM PC compatibles offered on the US market. ... The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law which implements two 1996 WIPO treaties. ... For fair use in trademark law, see Fair use (US trademark law). ... Not to be confused with copywriting. ... Samba logo. ... “Windows” redirects here. ... Wine is a project which aims to allow a PC with an x86 architecture processor running a Unix-like operating system and the X Window System to execute programs that were originally written for Microsoft Windows. ... The Windows API, informally WinAPI, is the name given by Microsoft to the core set of application programming interfaces (APIs) available in the Microsoft Windows operating systems. ... OpenOffice. ... Microsoft Office is an office suite from Microsoft for Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS X operating systems. ... ReactOS is a project to develop an operating system that is binary-compatible with application software and device drivers for Microsoft Windows NT version 5. ...

Binary software techniques

Reverse engineering of software can be accomplished by various methods. The three main groups of software reverse engineering are

  1. Analysis through observation of information exchange, most prevalent in protocol reverse engineering, which involves using bus analyzers and packet sniffers, for example, for accessing a computer bus or computer network connection and revealing the traffic data thereon. Bus or network behavior can then be analyzed to produce a stand-alone implementation that mimics that behavior. This is especially useful for reverse engineering device drivers. Sometimes reverse-engineering on embedded systems is greatly assisted by tools deliberately introduced by the manufacturer, such as JTAG ports or other debugging means. In Microsoft Windows, low-level debuggers such as SoftICE are popular.
  2. Disassembly using a disassembler, meaning the raw machine language of the program is read and understood in its own terms, only with the aid of machine language mnemonics. This works on any computer program but can take quite some time, especially for someone not used to machine code. The Interactive Disassembler is a particularly popular tool.
  3. Decompilation using a decompiler, a process that tries, with varying result, to recreate the source code in some high level language for a program only available in machine code or bytecode.

A bus analyzer is a computer bus analyzation tool, often a combination of hardware and software, used during development of device drivers for a specific bus and for reverse engineering of devices by reading and interpreting bus traffic. ... A packet sniffer (also known as a network analyzer or protocol analyzer or, for particular types of networks, an Ethernet sniffer or wireless sniffer) is computer software or computer hardware that can intercept and log traffic passing over a digital network or part of a network. ... In computer architecture, a bus is a subsystem that transfers data or power between computer components inside a computer or between computers and typically is controlled by device driver software. ... Computer networks may be classified according to the network layer at which they operate according to some basic reference models that are considered to be standards in the industry such as the seven layer OSI reference model and the four layer Internet Protocol Suite model. ... A device driver, or software driver is a computer program allowing higher-level computer programs to interact with a computer hardware device. ... A router, an example of an embedded system. ... JTAG, an acronym for Joint Test Action Group, is the usual name used for the IEEE 1149. ... “Windows” redirects here. ... SoftICE is a kernel mode debugger for Microsoft Windows. ... In computer programming, the disassembly is the result when machine code is translated back into assembly language. ... A disassembler is a computer program that translates machine language into assembly language — the inverse operation to that of an assembler. ... A system of codes directly understandable by a computers CPU is termed this CPUs native or machine language. ... For other uses, see Mnemonic (disambiguation). ... The Interactive Disassembler, more commonly known as simply IDA, is a commercial disassembler widely used for reverse engineering. ... A decompiler is the name given to a computer program that performs the reverse operation to that of a compiler. ...


  1. ^ Chikofsky, E.J.; J.H. Cross II (January 1990). "Reverse Engineering and Design Recovery: A Taxonomy in IEEE Software". IEEE Computer Society: 13–17. 
  2. ^ Warden, R. (1992). Software Reuse and Reverse Engineering in Practice. London, England: Chapman & Hall, 283–305. 
  3. ^ Chuvakin, Anton; Cyrus Peikari (January 2004). Security Warrior, 1st ed., O'Reilly. Retrieved on 2006-05-25. 
  4. ^ US Code: Title 17,1201. Circumvention of copyright protection systems. Retrieved on 2006-05-25.
  5. ^ See Pamela Samuelson and Suzanne Scotchmer, "The Law and Economics of Reverse Engineering", 111 Yale Law Journal 1575-1663 (May 2002).

Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 145th day of the year (146th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 145th day of the year (146th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Pamela Samuelson is a Professor at the University of California at Berkeley with a joint appointment in the School of Information Management and Systems and Boalt Hall, the School of Law. ...

See also

The Antikythera mechanism (main fragment). ... Code morphing is a one of the approaches to protect software applications from reverse engineering, analysis, modifications, and cracking used in obfuscating software. ... For the meaning of Cleanroom engineering in software development, see Cleanroom Software Engineering. ... A decompiler is the name given to a computer program that performs the reverse operation to that of a compiler. ... The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law which implements two 1996 WIPO treaties. ... The Interactive Disassembler, more commonly known as simply IDA, is a commercial disassembler widely used for reverse engineering. ... Value Engineering is a systematic method to improve the Value of goods and services by using an examination of function. ... Benchmarking (also best practice benchmarking or process benchmarking) is a process used in management and particularly strategic management, in which organizations evaluate various aspects of their processes in relation to best practice, usually within their own sector. ... Manufacturing and manufacturing systems manufacturing factory Craft system English system of manufacturing American system of manufacturing Mass production Batch production Just in time manufacturing Toyota Production System Lean manufacturing Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) Mass customization Theories of production Taylorism Fordism Theory of constraints Productivity Productivity benchmarking cost accounting experience curve... Forensic engineering is the investigation of materials, products, structures or components that fail or do not operate/function as intended, causing personal injury for example. ... Paycheck is a 2003 film adaptation of the short story Paycheck by science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. ... The Virtual Game Station (VGS) was an emulator by Connectix that allows Sony PlayStation games to be played on a computer. ... A bus analyzer is a computer bus analyzation tool, often a combination of hardware and software, used during development of device drivers for a specific bus and for reverse engineering of devices by reading and interpreting bus traffic. ... A logic analyzer displays signals in a digital circuit that are too fast to be observed by a human being and presents it to a user so that the user can more easily check correct operation of the digital system. ... Knowledge Discovery Metamodel (KDM) is publicly available specification from the Object Management Group (OMG). ...

External links

  • Reverse Code Engineering, as entry point for Reverse Code Engineering and the largest Reverse Code Engineering Community]
  • IITAC.org: Reverse Code Engineering certification according to ISO 17024
  • Crackmes.de The longest running and most complete Crackmes web page on the internet. Free Reverse Code Engineering training material
  • Reverse Code Engineering: The complete resource for RE of software. Archives of the most important Reverse Code Engineering sites
  • OpenRCE: Reverse Engineering Portal
  • MoDisco: (Model Discovery), an Eclipse Project on Model Driven Reverse Engineering
  • ERESI: The ERESI Reverse Engineering Software Interface for RCE on UNIX
  • Program transformation wiki on Reverse Engineering
  • Introduction to Reverse Engineering Software, preprint of a book by Mike Perry and Nasko Oskov.
  • Reverse Engineering Shapes, article by Tamás Várady
  • Online Resource for Reverse Engineering Software
  • Article on legal considerations by David C. Musker
  • CNN: How Soviets copied America's best bomber during WWII
  • Very good RE definitions from Software Engineering
  • Reverse engineering the vertebrate brain
  • Architecture-Driven Modernization group at OMG
  • Reverse Engineering Delivers Product Knowledge Aids Technology Spread - Article in Electronic Design by Dick James, Senior Technology Adviser, Chipworks

  Results from FactBites:
Chilling Effects Clearinghouse: Reverse Engineering (0 words)
Reverse engineering is also an invaluable teaching tool used by researchers, academics and students in many disciplines, who reverse engineer technology to discover, and learn from, its structure and design.
Although some reverse engineering techniques require making a copy of the software being investigated, an act that would otherwise be considered a copyright violation, copyright law has allowed these reverse engineering copies as a form of "fair use." Increasingly, however, contract clauses forbidding reverse engineering are included in technology licenses.
Reverse engineers must carefully consider their planned work and whether it fits into the exception, because the exception is far too narrow to be useful for many reverse engineering needs.
Reverse Engineering Overview (716 words)
Reverse engineering is a development method that uses information about an existing entity to produce a new entity that has some of the same properties of the existing entity.
Dirty-room reverse engineering done by the same engineers who create emulation software runs the risk of deliberate or accidental copyright violations by incorporating portions of the software to be emulated in the emulator.
In Strictly Clean-Room Reverse Engineering, when it is determined that the specification that the clean-room engineers are working from is insufficient to produce the degree of compatibility desired, the only recourse is to search for additional documentation or to write additional tests.
  More results at FactBites »



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