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Batch decompilation with IDA / Hex-Rays Decompiler

July 4, 2019 in IDA/Hex-Rays, Random ideas, Reversing, Silly, Tips & Tricks, Trivia

if you are very used to 32-bit IDA you may sometimes find yourself in a blind alley when you try to port your working solution to IDA 64-bit. This was the case with my old batch decompilation script.

The way it works is very simple – for every <file> in a folder, run IDA in its automation/batch mode mode, decompile the <file>, and finally save it in a <file>.c file – more or less like the below (I am omitting the loop):

c:\Ida\idaw.exe -A -Ohexrays:-new:%%k.c:ALL “%%k”

Nothing could be simpler.

Until you run it with the 64-bit idaw64.exe:

c:\Ida\idaw64.exe -A -Ohexrays:-new:%%k.c:ALL “%%k”

It doesn’t work. It loads idaw64 and just stays there.

The gotcha is in a plug-in name. The 64-bit decompiler’s plugin name is not hexrays, it’s not hexrays64 either. It is actually hexx64.dll.

So, you have to run this instead:

c:\Ida\idaw64.exe -A -Ohexx64:-new:%%k.c:ALL “%%k”

It’s ridiculously trivial, but it’s always the little things.

Also, interestingly, when you google hexx64.dll or hexx64.p64 you only get a few hits. As if not too many ppl ever came across the issue.

Another gotcha is that if you run it with too many files, your system’s performance will deteriorate quickly. I don’t know if it is memory fragmentation/leaks, or something else, but after running the script on a number of samples I observed my VM dying on me and requiring a restart due to low memory (despite no other process running on a 2G RAM guest). If you know what causes it I would be grateful if you could let me know.

The third gotcha is to rely on the text version of IDA for this task – it is faster than the GUI version. At least in my experience.

Finally, the last gotcha is to remove all the other plugins from the IDA’s Plugins directory, other than the one you are using e.g. hexrays. Why? This may look like nothing, but IDA enumerates and loads all of them _each_ time it starts.

The Missing Excel Move

June 21, 2019 in Random ideas

This post is a request for Excel devs to implement a novelty data navigation function.

I call it a ‘Levenshtein Move’.

When we review data, especially in a security field, and in particular sorted data gathered by Threat Hunters, we often come across data sets where multiple rows (often thousands, or tens of thousand) contain data very similar to each other.

At first, we obviously blame idiots who run tons of legitimate processes that use random values as a part of command line which makes our life hell, or similar idiots that make web logs full of almost identical entries, but then we still have to go through it.

For instance, if we see stuff like this:

  • hxxp://
  • hxxp://
  • hxxp://
  • hxxp://

– it is only natural to want to skip the repetitive values and just go to the google one next (also see GIF embedded below).

Because once we see it, we know we can just exclude this data using a regex or a wildcard. However, that next item on the list may be 10K rows later; there is no way to find it unless you skillfully use mouse for scrolling, or use the old-fashioned PageDown brute-force attack.

Now imagine making the computer working it out for you.

You could use a Levenshtein distance between the current cell value, and the cells below. As long as the calculated distance is low, we could continue to progress. And only stop when the next cell is substantially different from the one that is currently selected:

The core code I used to demo it looks like this:

Sub Levenshtein_Move_down()
    On Error Resume Next
    c = ActiveCell.Column
    r = ActiveCell.Row
    firstcell = Cells(r, c).Value

    Do While True
        r = r + 1
        curcell = ActiveSheet.Cells(r, c)
        If curcell = "" Then
             Exit Do
        End If
        l = Levenshtein(firstcell, curcell)
        If l > 3 Then
            Exit Do
        End If
    Cells(r, c).Select
End Sub

Function Levenshtein(ByVal string1 As String, ByVal string2 As String) As Long

Dim i As Long, j As Long
Dim string1_length As Long
Dim string2_length As Long
Dim distance() As Long

string1_length = Len(string1)
string2_length = Len(string2)
ReDim distance(string1_length, string2_length)

For i = 0 To string1_length
    distance(i, 0) = i

For j = 0 To string2_length
    distance(0, j) = j

For i = 1 To string1_length
    For j = 1 To string2_length
        If Asc(Mid$(string1, i, 1)) = Asc(Mid$(string2, j, 1)) Then
            distance(i, j) = distance(i - 1, j - 1)
            distance(i, j) = Application.WorksheetFunction.Min _
            (distance(i - 1, j) + 1, _
             distance(i, j - 1) + 1, _
             distance(i - 1, j - 1) + 1)
        End If

Levenshtein = distance(string1_length, string2_length)

End Function

I borrowed the VBA code for Levenshtein distance from this post on Stack Overflow.

And yes, you can embed it in your Excel workbook and assign it to a shortcut.