Reverse engineering c programs


every c program is converted to machine code, if this binary is distributed. Since the instruction set of a computer is well known, is it possible to get back the C original program?

Best Solution

You can never get back to the exact same source since there is no meta-data about that saved with the compiled code.

But you can re-create code out from the assembly-code.

Check out this book if you are interested in these things: Reversing: Secrets of Reverse Engineering.


Some compilers-101 here, if you were to define a compiler with another word and not as technical as "compiler", what would it be?

Answer: Translator

A compiler translates the syntax / phrases you have written into another language a C compiler translates to Assembly or even Machine-code. C# Code is translated to IL and so forth.

The executable you have is just a translation of your original text / syntax and if you want to "reverse it" hence "translate it back" you will most likely not get the same structure as you had at the start.

A more real life example would be if you Translate from English to German and the from German back to English, the sentance structure will most likely be different, other words might be used but the meaning, the context, will most likely not have changed.

The same goes for a compiler / translator if you go from C to ASM, the logic is the same, it's just a different way of reading it ( and of course its optimized ).