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ABSTRACT

SOFTWARE REVERSE ENGINEERING EDUCATION

by Teodoro Cipresso

Software Reverse Engineering (SRE) is the practice of analyzing a software

system, either in whole or in part, to extract design and implementation information. A

typical SRE scenario would involve a software module that has worked for years and

carries several rules of a business in its lines of code. Unfortunately the source code of

the application has been lost; what remains is “native” or “binary” code. Reverse

engineering skills are also used to detect and neutralize viruses and malware as well as to

protect intellectual property. It became frighteningly apparent during the Y2K crisis that

reverse engineering skills were not commonly held amongst programmers. Since that

time, much research has been undertaken to formalize the types of activities that fall into

the category of reverse engineering so that these skills can be taught to computer

programmers and testers. To help address the lack of software reverse engineering

education, several peer-reviewed articles on software reverse engineering, re-engineering,

reuse, maintenance, evolution, and security were gathered with the objective of

developing relevant, practical exercises for instructional purposes. The research revealed

that SRE is fairly well described and most of the related activities fall into one of two

categories: software development related and security related. Hands-on reverse

engineering exercises were developed in the spirit of these two categories with the goal of

providing a baseline education in reversing both Wintel machine code and Java bytecode.

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