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PyREBox, a Python scriptable Reverse Engineering sandbox


July 17, 2017 - 0 Comments

This post was authored by Xabier Ugarte Pedrero

In Talos, we are continuously trying to improve our research and threat intelligence capabilities. As a consequence, we not only leverage standard tools for analysis, but we also focus our efforts on innovation, developing our own technology to overcome new challenges. Also, Talos has traditionally supported open-source projects, and has open-sourced many different projects and tools that are currently used as part of our workflow like FIRST and BASS.

 In this blogpost we present PyREBox, our Python scriptable Reverse Engineering sandbox. PyREBox is based on QEMU, and its goal is to aid reverse engineering by providing dynamic analysis and debugging capabilities from a different perspective. PyREBox allows to inspect a running QEMU VM, modify its memory or registers, and to instrument its execution with simple Python scripts. QEMU (when working as a whole-system-emulator) emulates a complete system (CPU, memory, devices…). By using Virtual Machine Introspection (VMI) techniques, it does not require to perform any modification into the guest operating system, as it transparently retrieves information from its memory at run-time.
Several academic projects such as DECAF, PANDA, S2E, or AVATAR, have previously leveraged QEMU based instrumentation for reverse engineering tasks. These projects allow to write plugins in C/C++, and implement several advanced features such as dynamic taint analysis, symbolic execution, or even record and replay of execution traces. With PyREBox, we aim to apply this technology focusing on keeping the design simple, and on the usability of the system for threat analysts.

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