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Analysis Nirvana Via Stripped Executables and Binaries?


Software-analysis tools company GrammaTech has announced a static-analysis tool for analyzing binary libraries and executables.

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CodeSonar for Binaries works by examining software for security vulnerabilities and malicious code, without the need for source code. It pulls off this trick because the technology does not rely on debug or symbol-table information, so it can examine the stripped executables normally shipped by software vendors.

As a result, CodeSonar for Binaries can perform a security analysis on software without any cooperation from the vendor.

The analysis engine is the result of a 10-year collaboration between GrammaTech and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, involving 21 experts in program analysis and $15 million in research and development (R&D).

"While many software-analysis tools exist, nearly all require source code. Yet end users seldom have access to the source code. CodeSonar for Binaries empowers end users by enabling them to perform a security audit on executables," said Mark Zarins, VP of sales and marketing at GrammaTech. "It analyzes the software that users actually run — the specific machine code to be run on the processor. As a result, CodeSonar for Binaries can detect problems introduced not only by programmers, but also by the compiler and other tools in the development chain."

Market research firm Gartner predicts that "By 2017, IT supply chain integrity will be identified as a top three security-related concern by Global 2000 IT leaders." Gartner's October 2012 report entitled, "Living in a World Without Trust: When IT's Supply Chain Integrity and Online Infrastructure Get Pwned,” outlines the impact of, and extent to which, IT supply chains will be under attack and impaired in the future. According to Gartner, "The use of contaminated software in the creation of a finished software offering, whether inadvertent or intentional, is conceptually no different than the use of contaminated meat to create hamburgers. Both result in a final product that is compromised from creation."

"Disassembly tools have been available for analyzing binaries, but analyzing low-level machine code manually, or even with scripts, is extremely time consuming and not really a scalable approach to identifying vulnerabilities," said Paul Anderson, VP of engineering at GrammaTech. "CodeSonar for Binaries makes it easy to examine large executables rapidly. Furthermore, the tool is fully integrated with GrammaTech's source-code analysis technology, allowing customers to analyze projects that are a combination of source and binary code."


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