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NSA Makes Reverse Engineering Tool Freely Available

The United States National Security Agency (NSA) this week released its in-house reverse engineering tool Ghidra to the public, for free.

The United States National Security Agency (NSA) this week released its in-house reverse engineering tool Ghidra to the public, for free.

Initially announced in January, the release was accompanied by a demonstration of the tool at the RSA Conference 2019, which is taking place this week in San Francisco.

Ghidra, the NSA explains, is a software reverse engineering (SRE) suite of tools developed by the agency’s Research Directorate to analyze malicious code and malware, as well as to provide cyber-security researchers with information on potential vulnerabilities in their networks and systems.

GhidraThe framework packs various software analysis tools compatible with multiple platforms, including Windows, macOS, and Linux, and provides capabilities such as disassembly, assembly, decompilation, graphing and scripting, and more.

Security researchers appear enthusiastic about Ghidra, especially since, compared to standard tools in the industry, it doesn’t cost “thousands of dollars per year,” as Errata Security’s Robert Graham points out.

Graham, who notes that the tool covers all the basics of reverse engineering, allowing for easy code analysis, also posted some detailed information on various capabilities the framework has to offer.

Shortly after the tool was released, a bug has been already discovered in its debug mode, and some have already suggested this might be a backdoor the NSA intentionally implanted there.

As Graham points out, however, the bug is likely unintentional, as the NSA “are smarter than this.”

According to the NSA, the suite includes support for a wide variety of processor instruction sets and executable formats, and can be run in both user-interactive and automated modes.

Users can also develop their own Ghidra plug-in components and/or scripts using the exposed API, the agency says.

Although Ghidra is now available for download, the source code hasn’t been released yet, but the NSA says they are working on making it open source as soon as possible.

Related: NSA to Release Reverse Engineering Tool for Free Public Use

Related: GitHub Increases Bug Bounty Program Rewards, Expands Scope

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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