RESEARCH | March 29, 2022

Batteries Not Included: Reverse Engineering Obscure Architectures

Ethan Shackelford, IOActive Security Consultant, explores reverse engineering the Analog Devices’ Blackfin architecture – going from zero knowledge to full decompilation and advanced analysis, using Binary Ninja. While common instruction set architectures (ISAs – x86, ARM) dominate the markets, there is a wide variety of obscure and uncommon architectures also available – many featuring specialized architectures, such as PIC (commonly found in ICS equipment) and various Digital Signal Processing (DSP) focused architectures; various techniques and methodologies for understanding new, obscure architectures and the surrounding infrastructure which may be poorly documented and for which little to no tooling exists will be analyzed.