Basic binary reconstruction from assembler

by c0ntex | c0ntexb@gmail.com



This paper will provide a quick overview of how to perform reverse engineering against a simple .exe binary.

By using the assembly of a binary, it can be trivial to gain a basic understanding of the executable, which

will allow for the source code to be retrieved almost exactly as the developer designed it.

In this example we are only using a small program and as such it is easy to do, on a larger exe it would take

much longer and a more rigerous review of the assembler would be required.

// IDA assembler dump

; seh.exe

.text:0040102B push ebp

.text:0040102C mov ebp, esp

.text:0040102E sub esp, 0Ch

.text:00401031 cmp [ebp+argc], 2

.text:00401035 jz short loc_40104B

.text:00401037 push offset aUsageSeh_exeBu ; "Usage: seh.exe \n"

.text:0040103C call _printf

.text:00401041 add esp, 4

.text:00401044 push 1 ; int

.text:00401046 call _exit

.text:0040104B loc_40104B: ; CODE XREF: _main+Aj

.text:0040104B lea eax, [ebp+var_C]

.text:0040104E push eax ; char *

.text:0040104F mov ecx, [ebp+argv]

.text:00401052 push ecx ; int

.text:00401053 call sub_401000

.text:00401058 add esp, 8

.text:0040105B xor eax, eax

.text:0040105D mov esp, ebp

.text:0040105F pop ebp

.text:00401060 retn

.text:00401060 _main endp

.text:00401000 sub_401000 proc near ; CODE XREF: _main+284p


.text:00401000 arg_0 = dword ptr 8

.text:00401000 arg_4 = dword ptr 0Ch


.text:00401000 push ebp

.text:00401001 mov ebp, esp

.text:00401003 mov eax, [ebp+arg_0]

.text:00401006 mov ecx, [eax+4]

.text:00401009 push ecx ; char *

.text:0040100A mov edx, [ebp+arg_4]

.text:0040100D push edx ; char *

.text:0040100E call _strcpy

.text:00401013 add esp, 8

.text:00401016 mov eax, [ebp+arg_4]

.text:00401019 push eax

.text:0040101A push offset aMySehf00IsBett ; "\nMy sehf00 is better than your sehf00 -"...

.text:0040101F call _printf

.text:00401024 add esp, 8

.text:00401027 xor eax, eax

.text:00401029 pop ebp

.text:0040102A retn

.text:0040102A sub_401000 endp

So from the above assembler, we can start to replay the instructions into the equivilent c language and have

a fairly good, though not exact, representation of the c *in this case* code used to build the executable.

If there is a piece of code that you are unsure what it's function is, you can write a test c file and run

it through IDA to verify the instructions against what you thought / expected to see.

Dumping the first function only to show how it is done:

push ebp ;Back up original stack pointer

mov ebp, esp ; procedure prologue

sub esp, 0Ch ;Allocate 12 bytes of space

cmp [ebp+argc], 2 ;Verify there are 2 arguments passed

jz short loc_40104B ;if there are, jump to loc_40104B

push offset aUsageSeh_exeBu ; "Usage: seh.exe \n" ;if not, push error message on stack

call _printf ;print the error message

add esp, 4 ;add 4 to esp

push 1 ; int ;push exit value

call _exit ;exit

probably giving us:

int main(int argc, char **argv)


if(argc != 2) {

printf("Usage: seh.exe \n");





Do this with each function until we have sourced the entire image. Performing this type of resolution on all

the assembler will provide something like the following:

int main(int argc, char **argv)


char varc[12];

if(argc != 2) {

printf("Usage: seh.exe \n");



locfunc(argv, varc);



locfunc(char **argv, char *varc);

strcpy(varc, argv[1]);

printf("My sehf00 is better than your sehf00\n");



As you can see we have a fairly complete piece of code, the actual program below is the initial code used to

compile seh.exe and it is obvious that we were real close to the correct syntax. This just shows that even in

a situation when you do not have the applications source to hand, it is still fairly trivial to make by using

a dissassembler to see exactly how the program fits together.

This can be an important skill to have if you want to examine or modify an executable in some manner when you

do not have source code. Say that this application was a piece of malware or a worm that you found on your

system. It would be useful to understand how it worked and perhaps how it got there. By reverse engineering

it, functionality can become apparent straight away and allow you do determine how the program works and what

it does.

// Original seh.exe source




int blah(char *argv[], char *sehheh)


strcpy(sehheh, argv[1]);

printf("\nMy sehf00 is better than your sehf00 -> [%s]\n", sehheh);



int main(int argc, char *argv[]){

char sehheh[12];

if (argc != 2){

printf("Usage: myseh.exe \n");



blah(argv, sehheh);



I hope this short paper has been useful in showing how easy it is to perform some basic reverse engineering

of a compiled executable.


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