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Reverse Software Engineering: A Sophomore-level Project in Computer Systems

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Computers in Education Division Technical Session 7: Advanced CS courses

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

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Paper Authors


Cynthia C. Fry Baylor University

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CYNTHIA C. FRY is currently a Senior Lecturer of Computer Science at Baylor University. She worked at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center as a Senior Project Engineer, a Crew Training Manager, and the Science Operations Director for STS-46. She was an Engineering Duty Officer in the U.S. Navy (IRR), and worked with the Naval Maritime Intelligence Center as a Scientific/Technical Intelligence Analyst. She was the owner and chief systems engineer for Systems Engineering Services (SES), a computer systems design, development, and consultation firm. She joined the faculty of the School of Engineering and Computer Science at Baylor University in 1997, where she teaches a variety of engineering and computer science classes, she is the Faculty Advisor for the Women in Computer Science (WiCS), the Director of the Computer Science Fellows program, and is a KEEN Fellow. She has authored and co-authored over fifty peer-reviewed papers.

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Kevin Kulda Baylor University

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Kevin is a Senior at Baylor University studying Computer Science and Information Systems. He is simultaneously a Baylor Honors Student and a Baylor Business Fellow. Kevin's senior thesis will investigate the intersection of machine learning and cybersecurity.

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Gennie Mansi Baylor University

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Gennie is a Senior studying Statistics and Computer Science at Baylor University. She is also a Baylor Honors student whose senior thesis investigates the use of metrics in multi-variate statistical process control. After graduating this spring, she will be pursuing a graduate degree in human-centered computing with an interest in studying the intersection of technology and education in informal learning settings.

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On your first day on the job with a new company, you are placed on a team and presented with a challenge. A piece of executable code has been found on an older server, and you must determine what the code is designed to do. How do you begin? How will you find out if the file is safe to open? What could happen if the program is executed without knowing it’s intention? Is there a way to tell what the file does before opening it?

In CSI 2334, “Introduction to Computer Systems,” we introduce a group project to the students whose purpose is to simulate such an event. Group projects are used very frequently to provide a similar learning environment which capitalizes on the benefits of peer-to-peer instruction, or cooperative learning.

The challenge is presented, the students are put on teams, and then the work begins. The first steps are to investigate tools that allow you to “see,” in disassembly, the contents of a binary file. This paper will document the process taken by the student teams to: • determine how to view a binary file • determine what tools are available that might be of use • begin to work with the tools and the executable file to determine whether the file is o an old game, o a piece of malicious code, or o both • once the nature of the binary file is known, students will o modify game play, o quarantine the malicious code, or o both

This paper will document the process conducted by one of the student teams from the spring 2019 semester, and the methods of assessment used to evaluate each team’s results.

Fry, C. C., & Kulda, K., & Mansi, G. (2020, June), Reverse Software Engineering: A Sophomore-level Project in Computer Systems Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35160

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