Proceedings of ISP RAS

An Approach to Reconstruction Control Flow of the Obfuscated Program.

I. N. Ledovskikh, M.G. Bakulin.


Control flow obfuscation is one of widespread methods used to protect application binary code from analysis. The obfuscation transformations dramatically increase the complexity of separation and recognition of the algorithm and data structures. This paper provides a short survey of obfuscating transformations and tools, essentially the control flow obfuscations like opaque predicates, dispatcher and code virtualization. Our research was concentrated in area of de-obfuscation based on dynamic binary code analysis methods. An approach to locating of potentially opaque predicates and accompanying obfuscations (like dead and redundant code insertion) in program trace is given. The main idea underlying the described method of opaque predicate detection is extraction of predicate code via dynamic program slicing. Next, we apply some heuristics to automatically reduce predicate list, and then our tool provides the analyst with information about potentially opaque predicates found in application binary code.

Another control flow obfuscation eliminated by described tool was code virtualization. An algorithm for control flow graph recovery of virtualized code is based on virtual program counter analysis. The corresponding tool was implemented and successfully tested on several applications that were protected via various virtualization obfuscators (VMProtect, CodeVirtualizer, Safengine, etc.). The experimental results described in this paper demonstrate the practical adaptability of implemented method to de-obfuscate virtualized applications.


obfuscating transformations, opaque predicates detection, virtualization, control flow graph recovery


Proceedings of the Institute for System Programming, vol. 22, 2012, pp. 153-168.

ISSN 2220-6426 (Online), ISSN 2079-8156 (Print).

DOI: 10.15514/ISPRAS-2012-22-10

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