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Ghidra, the NSA's homegrown decompiler tool, is now open source

Image via NSA
Ghidra, the NSA's own reverse-engineering software, is now open source and freely available for download. The Agency voluntarily open-sourced the decompiler in an effort to benefit the cybersecurity community. Ghidra is a software decompiler that allows users to more easily see how a computer executes a program and is finely-tuned to be more user-friendly.

While the National Security Agency (NSA) sometimes makes headlines for negative reasons, like spying on the citizens of its own country, other times the agency helps out the cybersecurity community as a whole. Case in point: the NSA announced at the RSA security conference on Tuesday that it would make its Ghidra reverse-engineering tool open source.

Ghidra was developed in-house at the NSA as a decompiler tool. As a quick summary, a decompiler allows users to reverse engineer computer programs to see the exact code the machine is seeing and executing in a human-readable format. Decompilers are extremely useful in the cybersecurity world, as they allow analysts to tear malware apart and figure out exactly how attacks are executed.

As Wired points out, there are several other decompilers that are widely available, but Ghidra has been in development for years with the full backing of a massive government agency. Open-sourcing Ghidra also allows the software to be distributed free of charge; other decompilers can be prohibitively expensive for students and new analysts learning the basics of cybersecurity and reverse engineering.

Ghidra is designed to work across platforms (Windows, MacOS, and Linux) and emphasizes collaboration on a project. The software also contains some niceties like an undo function.

Despite the NSA’s track record of cyberespionage, the agency reassured skeptics that Ghidra had “no backdoor” or any other method the NSA could use to track Ghidra users. If there really is one, it’ll no doubt be uncovered by intrepid hackers anyway.

If you’re interested, you can download Ghidra here.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 03 > Ghidra, the NSA's homegrown decompiler tool, is now open source
Sam Medley, 2019-03- 6 (Update: 2019-03- 6)
Sam Medley
Sam Medley - Review Editor - @samuel_medley
I've been a "tech-head" my entire life. After graduating college with a degree in Mathematics, I worked in finance and banking a few years before taking a job as a Systems Analyst for my local school district. I started working with Notebookcheck in October of 2016 and have enjoyed writing news articles and notebook reviews. My areas of interest include the business side of technology, retro gaming, Linux, and innovative gadgets. When I'm not hunched over an electronic device or writing code for a new database, I'm either outside with my family, playing a decade-old video game, or sitting behind a drum set.