Reverse Engineering: Ghidra Review and IDA Pro Sticker Shock.

Reverse Engineering: Ghidra Review and  IDA Pro Sticker Shock.

IDA Pro (Just for x86) is about $5500US.  Well clearly I didn't find that kind of money in my couch cushions so I will have to try an alternative. Enter Ghidra. Downloading Ghidra is available from gitlab:  I have no idea how this compares to other Reverse Engineering Software so take this as a 'blind review' or a 'get it working guide'  I leave pitfalls in there to show how they are solved as a learning guidance for anyone following this path.  I am installing into a BackBox Linux which is basically Ubuntu Libraries.


Once you have downloaded the .tar.gz

tar -xvf ghidra-Ghidra_10.3.1_build.tar.gz
cd ghidra-Ghidra_10.3.1_build/

The build instructions advise us as:

## Build

To create the latest development build for your platform from this source repository:

##### Install build tools:
* [JDK 17 64-bit][jdk17]
* [Gradle 7.3+][gradle]
* make, gcc, and g++ (Linux/macOS-only)
* [Microsoft Visual Studio][vs] 2017+ or [Microsoft C++ Build Tools][vcbuildtools] with the
  following components installed (Windows-only):
  - MSVC
  - Windows SDK
  - C++ ATL
  1. Installing JDK 17 64-bit
sudo apt install openjdk-17-jdk openjdk-17-jre -y

2. Installing Gradle

sudo apt install snap
sudo snap install gradle

4. Install Gradle dependencies

gradle -I gradle/support/fetchDependencies.gradle init

Houston we have a problem..  Let's try seeing if it will build anyways:

gradle build Ghidra

Houston more problems:

  • 2 Problems to solve: Install Latest Gradle (See if  it compiles without the module) and then then pull a similar missing module and see if this goes.

Downloading the latest gradle.8.2

  • Latest Releases from here
cd gradle-8.2

Success Both Fixed (Call gradle 8.2 in the near-by directory and have it do the .grade init dependencies

../gradle-8.2/bin/gradle -I gradle/support/fetchDependencies.gradle init
../grade-8.2/bin/gradle buildGhidra

Lots goes on here. This looks like about a 5-10 minute compile at this point.

What is neat about the installation is it shows 'per-core' as in:

We have 3 cores working and 9 idle.  It did not take all 16 available.

Build time came in at a respectable 5 Min 59 Seconds.

Once that is done it produces a .zip file in /build/dist

-rw-rw-r-- 1 c c 361433570 Jul  5 19:24

Now copy the .zip to your /home/ and then unzip it - it contains a running production for it.

Inside the ghidra_10.3.1_DEV


Will present as:

It will give you a project menu and a detailed manual guide pop-up

And a detailed help guide:

We will create a non-shared project:

Once you have made your project it will look like this (I guess their budget for icons was a bit lacking?)

Selecting the Dragon or 'code browser' will give an entire new IDE space.

We select a .exe to import and it gives some decompiler information:

Once it is done ingestion it will give you a status and present you a reverse assembly language display.

Without even stepping the code there are a pile of analyzers that can assist you.

In the bottom right a bunch of progress boxes will show you as each analyzer module is called against the code.

In the left corner it did a really good job of finding the corresponding header files associated with the executable:

In the right side window it automatically produced Decompile C psuedo-code  which is very impressive - but logically this might be quite confusing.  I guess one could cut and paste  this into CLion or some other compiler and step it.

In the data type manager it has a detailed object browser as in:

Cool plugin. Since they don't have the license for the intel manual they give you this installation screen:

Summary: This is a very powerful and very specialized program to quickly analyze a program and produce a lot of engineering level statistics on it.

This is only a partial guide and one could spend a LONG time learning all the intricacies of this program.  Anyone that does reverse engineering that is not plunking down the large $$$ for IDA pro should definitely have this in their tool box.

Linux Rocks Every Day