Practical Foundations of ARM64 Linux Debugging, Disassembling, Reversing


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Practical Foundations of ARM64 Linux Debugging, Disassembling, Reversing

Training Course

About the Book

This training course is a Linux ARM64 (A64) version of the previous Practical Foundations of Linux Debugging, Disassembly, Reversing book. It also complements Accelerated Linux Core Dump Analysis training course.

The book skeleton is the same as its x64 Linux predecessor, but the content was revised entirely because of a different Linux distribution and CPU architecture.

The course is useful for:

  • Software support and escalation engineers, cloud security engineers, SRE, and DevSecOps
  • Software engineers coming from JVM background
  • Software testers
  • Engineers coming from non-Linux environments, for example, Windows or Mac OS X
  • Engineers coming from non-ARM environments, for example, x86/x64
  • Linux C/C++ software engineers without assembly language background
  • Security researchers without assembly language background
  • Beginners learning Linux software reverse engineering techniques

This book can also be used as an ARM64 assembly language and Linux debugging supplement for relevant undergraduate-level courses.

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  • Categories

    • C and C++
    • Computer Security
    • Computer Science
    • Cloud Computing
    • Operating System Development
    • Software Engineering
    • Testing
    • Embedded Systems
    • Computer Hardware
    • Raspberry Pi
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About the Author

Dmitry Vostokov
Dmitry Vostokov

Dmitry Vostokov is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, educator, scientist, inventor, and author. He is the founder of pattern-oriented software diagnostics, forensics, and prognostics discipline (Systematic Software Diagnostics), and Software Diagnostics Institute. Vostokov has also authored more than 50 books on software diagnostics, anomaly detection and analysis, software and memory forensics, root cause analysis and problem solving, memory dump analysis, debugging, software trace and log analysis, reverse engineering and malware analysis. He has more than 25 years of experience in software architecture, design, development and maintenance in a variety of industries including leadership, technical and people management roles. Dmitry also founded Syndromatix,, BriteTrace, DiaThings, Logtellect, OpenTask Iterative and Incremental Publishing, Software Diagnostics Technology and Services (former Memory Dump Analysis Services), and Software Prognostics. In his spare time, he presents various topics on Debugging TV and explores Software Narratology, its further development as Narratology of Things and Diagnostics of Things (DoT), Software Pathology, and Quantum Software Diagnostics. His current areas of interest are theoretical software diagnostics and its mathematical and computer science foundations, application of formal logic, artificial intelligence, machine learning and data mining to diagnostics and anomaly detection, software diagnostics engineering and diagnostics-driven development, diagnostics workflow and interaction. Recent interest areas also include cloud native computing, security, automation, functional programming, applications of category theory to software diagnostics, development and big data, and diagnostics of artificial intelligence.

Table of Contents

Contents 4

Preface 9

About the Author 10

Chapter A64.1: Memory, Registers, and Simple Arithmetic 11

Memory and Registers inside an Idealized Computer 11

Memory and Registers inside ARM 64-bit Computer 12

“Arithmetic” Project: Memory Layout and Registers 13

“Arithmetic” Project: A Computer Program 14

“Arithmetic” Project: Assigning Numbers to Memory Locations 15

Assigning Numbers to Registers 18

“Arithmetic” Project: Adding Numbers to Memory Cells 19

Incrementing/Decrementing Numbers in Memory and Registers 22

Multiplying Numbers 25

Chapter A64.2: Code Optimization 29

“Arithmetic” Project: C/C++ Program 29

Downloading GDB 31

GDB Disassembly Output – No Optimization 32

GDB Disassembly Output – Optimization 37

Chapter A64.3: Number Representations 39

Numbers and Their Representations 39

Decimal Representation (Base Ten) 40

Ternary Representation (Base Three) 41

Binary Representation (Base Two) 42

Hexadecimal Representation (Base Sixteen) 43

Why are Hexadecimals used? 44

Chapter A64.4: Pointers 47

A Definition 47

“Pointers” Project: Memory Layout and Registers 48

“Pointers” Project: Calculations 50

Using Pointers to Assign Numbers to Memory Cells 51

Adding Numbers Using Pointers 58

Incrementing Numbers Using Pointers 62

Multiplying Numbers Using Pointers 65

Chapter A64.5: Bytes, Half Words, Words, and Double Words 69

Using Hexadecimal Numbers 69

Byte Granularity 70

Bit Granularity 71

Memory Layout 72

Chapter A64.6: Pointers to Memory 75

Pointers Revisited 75

Addressing Types 76

Registers Revisited 81

NULL Pointers 82

Invalid Pointers 83

Variables as Pointers 84

Pointer Initialization 85

Initialized and Uninitialized Data 86

More Pseudo Notation 87

“MemoryPointers” Project: Memory Layout 88

Chapter A64.7: Logical Instructions and PC 99

Instruction Format 99

Logical Shift Instructions 100

Logical Operations 101

Zeroing Memory or Registers 102

Instruction Pointer 103

Code Section 105

Chapter A64.8: Reconstructing a Program with Pointers 107

Example of Disassembly Output: No Optimization 107

Reconstructing C/C++ Code: Part 1 110

Reconstructing C/C++ Code: Part 2 112

Reconstructing C/C++ Code: Part 3 114

Reconstructing C/C++ Code: C/C++ program 116

Example of Disassembly Output: Optimized Program 117

Chapter A64.9: Memory and Stacks 119

Stack: A Definition 119

Stack Implementation in Memory 120

Things to Remember 122

Stack Push Implementation 123

Stack Pop Implementation 124

Register Review 125

Application Memory Simplified 126

Stack Overflow 127

Jumps 128

Calls 130

Call Stack 131

Exploring Stack in GDB 133

Chapter A64.10: Frame Pointer and Local Variables 137

Stack Usage 137

Register Review 138

Addressing Array Elements 139

Stack Structure (No Function Parameters) 140

Function Prolog 141

Raw Stack (No Local Variables and Function Parameters) 142

Function Epilog 144

“Local Variables” Project 145

Disassembly of Optimized Executable 148

Chapter A64.11: Function Parameters 149

“FunctionParameters” Project 149

Stack Structure 150

Function Prolog and Epilog 152

Project Disassembled Code with Comments 154

Parameter Mismatch Problem 158

Chapter A64.12: More Instructions 159

PSTATE Flags 159

Testing for 0 160

TST - Logical Compare 161

CMP – Compare Two Operands 162

TST or CMP? 163

Conditional Jumps 164

Function Return Value 165

Chapter A64.13: Function Pointer Parameters 167

“FunctionPointerParameters” Project 167

Commented Disassembly 168

Chapter A64.14: Summary of Code Disassembly Patterns 173

Function Prolog / Epilog 173

ADR (Address) 174

Passing Parameters 175

Accessing Saved Parameters and Local Variables 176

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