Binary rewriting with syzygy, Pt. I

Introduction

Binary instrumentation and analysis have been subjects that I have always found fascinating. At compile time via clang, or at runtime with dynamic binary instrumentation frameworks like Pin or DynamoRIO. One thing I have always looked for though, is a framework able to statically instrument a PE image. A framework designed a bit like clang where you can write 'passes' doing various things: transformation of the image, analysis of code blocks, etc. Until a couple of months ago, I wasn't aware of any public and robust projects providing this capability (as in, able to instrument real-world scale programs like Chrome or similar).

In this post (it's been a while I know!), I'll introduce the syzygy transformation tool chain with a focus on its instrumenter, and give an overview of the framework, its capabilities, its limitations, and how you can write transformations yourself. As examples, I'll walk through two simple examples: an analysis pass generating a call-graph, and a transformation pass rewriting the function __report_gsfailure in /GS protected binaries.

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