What is software reverse engineering and what are its dedicated steps?

Software reverse engineering is the practice of recovering the design, finding the functional elements of the program, and making it functional by analyzing its code into a separate and entirely independent infrastructure from the previous program that is free from any protections imposed. The process involves building a program database and then generating information from this. The main purpose of software reverse engineering is to understand the functionality of the product/program and gaining a thoughtful insight into its working by facilitating decryption of the securities and ripping the code right from the functioning infrastructure. 

Software reverse engineering finds its application in the development of new and better protections and software systems and understanding the core vulnerabilities that exist within the code of the program as well. Other than that it is used by crackers all around the world to decrypt various programs and software that require verification and online activation, the gaming world is one such example where games are cracked in real-time to rid them of these protections and making them work without online activation.

Goals of the reverse engineering

  • Trying to understand the complex infrastructure of the code that built the entire software from scratch
  • Recovering any lost information
  • Detecting the possible side effects into the program or software
  • Facilitating the reuse of the similar code by making a few overall changes

Steps involved in the software reverse engineering


  • Collection of the information


This step involves collecting every ounce of information about the program or software that is to be reverse engineered such as source design and other code information. 


  • Examining the information


This is done to get familiar with the system and taking a deep data dive to understand the complex mechanics at play and what kind of protections are being used.


  • Extracting the structure


This includes trying to understand the basic structure of the program or software in the form of a chart where each and every section corresponds to a dedicated function that branches out.


  • Recording this functionality


This next step involves documenting the functionality of each and every node within the software while trying to find resemblance and exact functioning along with the contact points.


  • Recording the data flow


The information that was collected and arranged in the above steps is used in this one to create the data flow charts that determine the exact movement of data along these different channels, how is it interpreted and what is the exact mechanism of doing so.


  • Recording the control flow


Here the high-level control structure of the software is recorded which means that how the software reacts once new interoperation is developed that looks the same and is made from the same base code to find if it would work the same as the original interpretation of the software does.


  • Reviewing extracted design


This step involves carefully studying the design document several times for the sake of ensuring that it is purely the same copy of the original software along with checking out the consistency and correctness of the code as well. Another thing that is being determined here is whether or not the design represents the program.   


  • Generating documentation


In this final step, the complete documentation of the process is done along with the complete hirsute of the process as well as the overview of reverse engineering for future use.