Implementation trade-offs in using Intel Pin for instruction tracing of complex programs
Switch branches/tags
Nothing to show
Clone or download
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Failed to load latest commit information.



A Pintool that lets you reconstruct the Control Flow Graph (CFG) of plain and UPX packed executables.


With the development of increasingly advanced techniques to hide the malicious payload of a Malware, the community of reverse engineers and security researchers has been facing more and more complex programs which brought about the need of more advanced analysis than classic ones based on static code inspection. To truly understand what such malicious programs do, an analyst needs to look at them while they are executing, thus tools to carry out their analyses at runtime have become one of the most powerful weapons to face new threats. Among the techniques for the design and implementation of such tools there is dynamic binary instrumentation (DBI), an advanced solution that makes it possible to instrument a program dynamically (i.e., while it is running), allowing for a fine-grained inspection of its execution. Although this technique is very powerful, it carries with it some performance and accuracy trade-offs. In this project we will build tools to record instructions and reconstruct the control flow graph of a possibly malicious program, discussing during the journey the challenges introduced by the usage of DBI and proposing some solutions to mitigate these problems.



Assuming Intel Pin folder is located at C:\Pin35, you can launch the tool with the following structure:
C:\Pin35\pin.exe -t C:\Pin35\icount.dll <tool-switches> -- <analyzed-program> <analyzed-program-switches>
By default the tool uses the Unbuffered version and generates a trace of 2Gb maximum
Once the tool finishes instrumenting the executable it generates: a (i)trace.out file; a (ii)dump of each of the sections of the program; and a (iii) report.json file containing information about the executed programs (e.g.: Sections' low addresses and size).
Once the analysis is finished, the CFG can be reconstructed by launching python A PDF of the CFG will be shown and a file called CFG.gv.pdf will be created

Pintooll otions

Apart from the standard switches of Intel Pin, the Pintool can be configured with these additional switches:

  • -buffered [default false]: whether or not the trace is buffered
  • -thread_flushed [default false]: whether or not the trace has a thread for flushing
  • -favor_main_thread [default false]: allocate a quarter of thread buffer for threads that are not the main one
  • -tag [default ""]: tag for the performance report. If missing no report will be generated
  • -thread_buffer_size [default 30Mb]: size of the per-thread buffer
  • -trace_limit [default 2Gb]: size of the trace limit


The tool has been tested on Win32 only with UPX packer.


This work has been possible thanks to: Capstone Graphviz