Chapter 1. Foundations

This chapter provides some background information on reverse engineering and the various topics discussed throughout this book. We start by defining reverse engineering and the various types of applications it has in software, and proceed to demonstrate the connection between low-level software and reverse engineering. There is then a brief introduction of the reverse-engineering process and the tools of the trade. Finally, there is a discussion on the legal aspects of reverse engineering with an attempt to classify the cases in which reverse engineering is legal and when it's not.

What Is Reverse Engineering?

Reverse engineering is the process of extracting the knowledge or design blueprints from anything man-made. The concept has been around since long before computers or modern technology, and probably dates back to the days of the industrial revolution. It is very similar to scientific research, in which a researcher is attempting to work out the "blueprint" of the atom or the human mind. The difference between reverse engineering and conventional scientific research is that with reverse engineering the artifact being investigated is man-made, unlike scientific research where it is a natural phenomenon.

Reverse engineering is usually conducted to obtain missing knowledge, ideas, and design philosophy when such information is unavailable. In some cases, the information is owned by someone who isn't willing to share them. In other cases, the information has ...

Get Reversing: Secrets of Reverse Engineering now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.