IDAPro for IoT Malware analysis?


Sri Shaila G, Ahmad Darki, Michalis Faloutsos, Nael Abu-Ghazaleh, and Manu Sridharan, University of California, Riverside

Long Research Paper


Defending against the threat of IoT malware will require new techniques and tools. An important security capability, that precedes a number of security analyses, is the ability to reverse engineer IoT malware binaries effectively. A key question is whether PC-oriented disassemblers can be effective on IoT malware, given the difference in the malware programs and the processors that support them. In this paper, we develop a systematic approach and a tool for evaluating the effectiveness of disassemblers on IoT malware binaries. The key components of the approach are: (a) we find the source code for 20 real-world malware programs, (b) we compile them to form a test set of 240 binaries using various compiler optimization options, device architectures, and consid- ering both stripped and unstripped versions of the binaries, and (c) we establish the ground-truth for all these binaries for six disassembly accuracy metrics, such as the percentage of correctly disassembled instructions, and the accuracy of the control flow graph. Overall, we find that IDA Pro performs well for unstripped binaries with a precision and recall accuracy of over 85% for all the metrics. However, IDA Pro’s performance deteriorates significantly with stripped binaries, mainly because the recall accuracy of identifying the start of functions drops to around 60% for both platforms. The results for the stripped ARM and MIPS binaries are similar to stripped x86 binaries in [1]. Interestingly, we find that most compiler optimization options, except the -O3 option for the MIPS architecture, do not cause any noticeable effect in the accuracy. We view our approach as an important capability for assessing and improving reverse engineering tools focusing on IOT malware.

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@inproceedings {238264,
author = {Sri Shaila G and Ahmad Darki and Michalis Faloutsos and Nael Abu-Ghazaleh and Manu Sridharan},
title = {{IDAPro} for {IoT} Malware analysis?},
booktitle = {12th USENIX Workshop on Cyber Security Experimentation and Test (CSET 19)},
year = {2019},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug,