Repeatable reverse engineering with PANDA

Brendan Dolan-Gavitt, Josh Hodosh, Patrick Hulin, Tim Leek, Ryan Whelan

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


    We present PANDA, an open-source tool that has been purpose-built to support whole system reverse engineering. It is built upon the QEMU whole system emulator, and so analyses have access to all code executing in the guest and all data. PANDA adds the ability to record and replay executions, enabling iterative, deep, whole system analyses. Further, the replay log files are compact and shareable, allowing for repeatable experiments. A nine billion mstruction boot of FreeBSD, eg, is represented by only a few hundred MB. PANDA leverages QEMU's support of thirteen different CPU architectures to make analyses of those diverse instruction sets possible within the LLVM IR. In this way, PANDA can have a single dynamic taint analysis, for example, that precisely supports many CPUs. PANDA analyses are written in a simple plugim architecture which includes a mechanism to share functionality between plugins, increasing analysis code re-use and simplifying complex analysis development. We demonstrate PANDA's effectiveness via a number of use cases, including enabling an old but legitimately purchased game to run despite a lost CD key, in-depth diagnosis of an Internet Explorer crash, and uncovering the censorship activities and mechanisms of an IM client.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 5th Program Protection and Reverse Engineering Workshop, PPREW 2015 - Software Security and Protection Workshop 2015, SSP 2015
    PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
    ISBN (Electronic)9781450336420
    StatePublished - Dec 8 2015
    Event5th Program Protection and Reverse Engineering Workshop, PPREW 2015 - Los Angeles, United States
    Duration: Dec 8 2015 → …

    Publication series

    NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series


    Other5th Program Protection and Reverse Engineering Workshop, PPREW 2015
    Country/TerritoryUnited States
    CityLos Angeles
    Period12/8/15 → …


    • Instrumentation
    • Introspection
    • Record/replay

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Software
    • Human-Computer Interaction
    • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
    • Computer Networks and Communications


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