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NSA to Release a Free Reverse Engineering Tool

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vimukthi
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6 months ago2 min read

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In March 2017, WikiLeaks leaked the CIA Vault 7 documents which outlined various tools utilized by the CIA. Included in those leaked documents were numerous references to a reverse engineering tool called GHIDRA that was developed by the NSA. Now the software is out. GHIDRA is written in Java and works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. The tool is used to look at the inner workings of malware strains or suspicious software.It has been under development since early 2000s and it wasn't a secret among the government agencies. The public only got to know these things after WikiLeaks published Vault7 leaks.

 

GHIDRA can also analyze binaries for all major operating systems, such as Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS, and a modular architecture allows users to add packages in case they need extra features. According to GHIDRA's description in the RSA conference session intro, the tool "includes all the features expected in high-end commercial tools, with new and expanded functionality NSA uniquely developed."

 

Some people who know and used the tool and have shared opinions on social media, such as HackerNews, Reddit, and Twitter, have compared GHIDRA with IDA, a well-known reverse engineering tool -but also very expensive, with licenses priced in the range of thousands of dollars. Most users say that GHIDRA is slower and buggier than IDA, but by open-sourcing it, the NSA will benefit from free maintenance from the open source community, allowing GHIDRA to quickly catch up and maybe surpass IDA.

 

But here is the catch. NSA and other agencies will be having their tools developed on the backs of free of charge efforts of the passionate open source community. For once I think NSA made  very smart move to improve their not so amazing software.I don't think this is a good thing.

 

In total, the NSA has open-sourced 32 projects as part of its Technology Transfer Program (TTP) so far and has most recently even opened an official GitHub account.

 

Fun Fact

 

GHIDRA spells close to Ghidrah  which is an alternative spelling of King Ghidorah which is this three headed golden dragon:

 

 

 


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