Ghidra Plugin: JNIAnalyzer

When reversing Android applications with native code, providing type information to your reverse engineering tool can make a decompilation a lot more readable.

As an example, the following snippet of code is the Ghidra decompiler output of a function from the libfoo.so of UnCrackable-Level3:

/* DISPLAY WARNING: Type casts are NOT being printed */

void Java_sg_vantagepoint_uncrackable3_MainActivity_init
               (int *param_1,undefined4 param_2,undefined4 param_3)

{
  char *__src;

  FUN_00013250();
  __src = (**(*param_1 + 0x2e0))(param_1,param_3,0);
  strncpy(&DAT_0001601c,__src,0x18);
  (**(*param_1 + 0x300))(param_1,param_3,__src,2);
  DAT_00016038 = DAT_00016038 + 1;
  return;
}

If we tell Ghidra that the first parameter has the type JNIEnv *, like all JNI functions do, the decompiler output immediately becomes easier to parse.

/* DISPLAY WARNING: Type casts are NOT being printed */

void Java_sg_vantagepoint_uncrackable3_MainActivity_init
               (JNIEnv *env,jobject thiz,jbyteArray param_3)

{
  jbyte *__src;

  FUN_00013250();
  __src = (*(*env)->GetByteArrayElements)(env,param_3,NULL);
  strncpy(&DAT_0001601c,__src,0x18);
  (*(*env)->ReleaseByteArrayElements)(env,param_3,__src,2);
  DAT_00016038 = DAT_00016038 + 1;
  return;
}

For example, we now see that the third line in the function is actually a call to the JNI function GetByteArrayElements instead of seeing it as a call to an arbitrary function pointer at an offset.

// before
__src = (**(*param_1 + 0x2e0))(param_1,param_3,0);

//after
__src = (*(*env)->GetByteArrayElements)(env,param_3,NULL);

Ghidra also helpfully detects that the third parameter has the type of jbyteArray even if we did not define it as it gets passed to GetByteArrayElements.

Automation with the Ghidra API

Defining the data type for JNI functions manually is a tedious task that can be automated. As JNI functions will have a corresponding method in Java, we can decompile the Dalvik bytecode in an Android app to look for those type definitions. I wrote a simple wrapper around JADX called FindNativeJNIMethods to do that automatically.

$ java -jar FindNativeJNIMethods.jar UnCrackable-Level3.apk defs.json
$ cat defs.json | python -m json.tool
{
    "methods": [
        {
            "argumentTypes": [
                "jbyteArray"
            ],
            "methodName": "sg.vantagepoint.uncrackable3.CodeCheck.bar"
        },
        {
            "argumentTypes": [],
            "methodName": "sg.vantagepoint.uncrackable3.MainActivity.baz"
        },
        {
            "argumentTypes": [
                "jbyteArray"
            ],
            "methodName": "sg.vantagepoint.uncrackable3.MainActivity.init"
        }
    ]
}

Next, I wrote a Ghidra plugin called JNIAnalyzer that parses the JSON output of FindNativeJNIMethods and apply it to the binary being analyzed. Once the extension has been loaded into Ghidra, run the JNI/JNIAnalyzer.java script and select the defs.json file generated previously.

You will see the following output in Ghidra's scripting console:

JNIAnalyzer.java> Running...
JNIAnalyzer.java> [+] Import jni_all.h...
JNIAnalyzer.java> [+] Enumerating JNI functions...
JNIAnalyzer.java> Java_sg_vantagepoint_uncrackable3_MainActivity_init
JNIAnalyzer.java> Java_sg_vantagepoint_uncrackable3_MainActivity_baz
JNIAnalyzer.java> Java_sg_vantagepoint_uncrackable3_CodeCheck_bar
JNIAnalyzer.java> Total JNI functions found: 3
JNIAnalyzer.java> [+] Applying function signatures...
JNIAnalyzer.java> Finished!

The function in libfoo.so now has the correct (and complete) type definition for the parameters.

/* DISPLAY WARNING: Type casts are NOT being printed */

void Java_sg_vantagepoint_uncrackable3_MainActivity_init(JNIEnv *env,jobject thiz,jbyteArray a0)

{
  jbyte *__src;

  FUN_00013250();
  __src = (*(*env)->GetByteArrayElements)(env,a0,NULL);
  strncpy(&DAT_0001601c,__src,0x18);
  (*(*env)->ReleaseByteArrayElements)(env,a0,__src,2);
  DAT_00016038 = DAT_00016038 + 1;
  return;
}

As a quick explanation on how the extension works, the script does the following:

  1. Imports the JNI data types from an archive parsed from jni_all.h.
  2. Parses the selected JSON file containing the function definitions.
  3. Iterates over all functions in the binary looking for those with names that begin with Java_.
  4. Based on the name, it looks up the corresponding function definition and apply it. For example, the native method Java_sg_vantagepoint_uncrackable3_MainActivity_init will be matched to the init method of the sg.vantagepoint.uncrackable3.MainActivity class.

As the script assumes that all JNI functions have names that begin with Java_, it will miss functions that are loaded at runtime through RegisterNatives unless you first rename those functions to fit the expected naming convention.

I have a few more potentially useful ideas to implement so I will probably update the extension in the near future. I hope someone else also finds this useful!

If you have any feedback or notice any errors in the post, I'd love to hear from you. You can find various ways of contacting me at the about me page!