An Analytical Approach to Modern Binary Deobfuscation (HKT)



4 days

Delivery Method




Seats Available



4 days

Delivery Method





DATE: 21-24 August 2023

TIME: 09:00 to 17:00 ICT/GMT+7

Date Day Time Duration
21 Aug Monday 0900-17:00 ICT/GMT+7 8 Hours
22 Aug Tuesday 0900-17:00 ICT/GMT+7 8 Hours
23 Aug Wednesday 0900-17:00 ICT/GMT+7 8 Hours
24 Aug Thursday 0900-17:00 ICT/GMT+7 8 Hours

Code obfuscation has become one of the most prevalent mechanisms aiming to complicate the process of software reverse engineering. It plays a major role on a wide range of domains: from malware threats to protection of intellectual property and digital rights management.

An Analytical approach to Modern Binary Deobfuscation is a curated training that provides an intensive jump-start into the field of code (de)obfuscation. Over the course of this training, students will receive a comprehensive introduction to the most relevant software obfuscation mechanisms as well as existing deobfuscation techniques to analyze, confront and defeat obfuscated code.

Teaching Methodology

Live classes are designed to be dynamic and engaging, making the students get the most out of the training materials and instructor expertise. A clear presentation of the concepts, accompanied by illustrative examples and demos. For each section, there will be practice time allocated. The students will be provided with several exercises and projects to work on, with the continuous support of the instructor.


Students will be provided with
  • Access to a VM with all tools, examples and exercises
  • Access to a private chat with instructor and other students



Day 1

  • Introduction, context and motivation
  • Data-flow based obfuscation
    • Constant unfolding
    • Dead code insertion
    • Encodings
    • Pattern-based obfuscation
  • Control-flow based obfuscation
    • Function inlining/outlining
    • Opaque predicates
    • Control-flow flattening
  • Mixing data-flow and control-flow obfuscation
    • VM-based obfuscation
    • Hardening VM-based obfuscation


Project – Manually craft a custom obfuscation VM


Day 2

  • SMT-based analysis
    • A primer on SMT solvers
    • Translate code conditions into SMT solver constraints
    • Program analysis with SMT solvers
  • Mixed Boolean-Arithmetic
    • Preliminary concepts
    • MBA rewriting
    • Insertion of identities
    • Opaque constants


Project – Applied MBA to obfuscate the semantics of VM-handlers


Day 3

  • Symbolic execution
    • Reasoning about code in a symbolic way
    • Working with native code
    • Working with intermediate representations
    • Data-flow analysis and compiler optimizations
    • Extract symbolic formulas
    • Extract path constraints
    • Plugging an SMT solver
    • Attacking obfuscation schemes


Guided project – Build your own (toy) symbolic execution engine

Project – Attack obfuscated VM and explore symbolic execution limits


Day 4

  • Program synthesis
    • Code syntax VS Code semantics
    • Specifying program behavior
    • Oracle-based program synthesis
    • Describing semantics through I/O behavior
    • Generating I/O pairs
    • Different synthesis flavors
    • Practical considerations
    • Attacking obfuscation schemes


  • Conclusions and research directions


Guided project – Build your own code semantics synthesizer

Project – Recover the semantics of MBA-obfuscated VM-handlers


Tools used
  • Disassemblers
    • IDA Free/Home/Pro
    • Ghidra
    • Radare2
  • Obfuscation
    • Manual obfuscation
    • O-LLVM
    • Tigress
  • Symbolic execution
    • Miasm
    • Triton
  • Program synthesis
    • Syntia
    • Msynth
    • Custom tooling
  • Other tools
    • Z3
    • Other custom tooling

Why You Should Take This Course

This is a curated training that provides an intensive jump-start into the field of code (de)obfuscation. Over the course of this training, students will receive a comprehensive introduction to the most relevant software obfuscation mechanisms as well as existing deobfuscation techniques to analyze, confront and defeat obfuscated code.

Who Should Attend

Reverse engineers, malware analysts and folks within the anti-cheating and software protection industry. It can also be really beneficial for bug hunters, vulnerability researchers, exploit developers and enthusiast security researchers in general.

Key Learning Objectives

  • Obtain a high-level overview of the context and scenarios where code obfuscation is used

  • Gain an in-depth understanding of code obfuscation mechanisms

  • Build obfuscated code, both from scratch and through available tooling

  • Develop an understanding of the main code deobfuscation techniques

  • Learn tooling for analyzing obfuscated code and apply deobfuscation techniques

  • Become familiar with state of the art (de)obfuscation research literature
  • Prerequisite Knowledge

    • Understanding of basic programming concepts
    • Familiarity with x86 assembly, C and Python
    • Knowledge of reverse engineering fundamentals

    Hardware / Software Requirements

    • A working desktop/laptop capable of running virtual machines
    • 40 GB free hard disk space

    Your Instructor

    Catalan hacker, reverse engineer and mathematician, with an extensive background in code (de)obfuscation research and Mixed Boolean-Arithmetic expressions, as well as industry experience as a malware analyst and security engineer. Founder of Fura Labs, a research and education firm on software security and reverse engineering. Co-founder and president of Hacking Lliure, a non-profit association and hacking community. Speaker and trainer at several international security conferences.

    What students say about his training:

    Duncan Ogilvie, author of x64dbg (@mrexodia)
    “The lectures by Arnau on Mixed Boolean-Arithmetic obfuscation and deobfuscation techniques went very deep, while staying accessible for people without a formal math background. The exercise materials and projects were engaging and a natural practical extension of the theory discussed during the lectures. Arnau was also very responsive and happy to discuss ideas in the Discord channel. Overall a superb experience and I highly recommend you attend one of his trainings!”

    Would you recommend this class, or attend other classes by this trainer?

    “Yes, recommended.”

    “Yes, he is one of the few experts in this area of research. Thus, his insights are invaluable.”

    “Yes, highly recommended to people who are interested to understand the finer implementations of how Symbolic Execution or Mixed-Boolean Arithmetic works”

    “The instructor focused more on the underlying theories of how each topics work rather than focusing on specific tools. This allows us to apply the knowledge to other tools.”