Function Trapper Keeper - An IDA Plugin For Function Notes

Function Trapper Keeper is an IDA plugin for writing and storing function notes in IDBs, it’s a middle ground between function comments and IDA’s Notepad. It’s a tool that I have wanted for a while. To understand why I wanted Function Trapper Keeper, it might be worth describing my process of reverse engineering a binary in IDA. 

Upon opening a binary, I always take note of the code to data ratio. This is can be inferred by looking at the Navigator band in IDA. If there is more data than code in the binary, it can hint that the binary is packed or encrypted. If so, I typically stop the triage of the binary to start searching for cross-references to the data. In many instances the cross-references can lead to code used for decompressing or decrypting the data. For example, if the binary is a loader it would contain the second stage payload encrypted or some other form of obfuscation. By cross-referencing the data and finding the decryption routine of the loader, I can quickly pivot to extracting the payload. Another notable ratio is if the data or code is not a consistent. If the code changes from data to code and back, it is likely that the analysis process of IDA found inconsistencies in the disassembled functions. This could be from anti-disassemblers, flawed memory dumps or something else that needs attention. After the ratios, I look at the strings. I look for the presence of compilers strings, strings related to DLLs and APIs, user defined strings or the lack of user defined strings. If the latter, I’ll start searching for the presence of encrypted strings and then cross-referencing their usage. This can help find the function responsible for string decryption. If I can’t find the string decryption routine, I’ll use some automation to find all references to XOR instructions. After reviewing strings, I’ll do a quick triage of imported function. I like to look for sets of APIs that I know are related to certain functionality. For example, if I see calls to VirtualAlloc, VirtualProtect and CreateRemoteThread, I can infer that process injection is potentially present in the binary.

After the previously described triage, I have high-level overview of the binary and usually know if I should do a deep dive of the binary or if I need to focus on certain functionality (encrypted strings, unpacked, etc). If I’m doing a deep dive I like to label all functions. For my IDBs, the name of the function hints at my level of understanding of the function. The more descriptive the function name, the more I know about it. If I know the function does process injection into explorer.exe I might name it “inject_VirtRemoteThreadExplorer”. If I don’t care about the function but I need to note it’s related to strings and memory allocation I might label it “str_mem”. If I’m super lazy I might name the function “str_mem_??”, and yes you can use “?” in IDA’s function names. This is a reminder that I should probably double check the function if it’s used a lot. Once I have all the functions labeled, I can be confident of the general functionality of the binary. This is when I start digging deeper into the functions.

This can vary but with lots of malware families a handful of the functions contain the majority of the notable functionality. This is commonly where I spend the most of my time reversing. I have said it before in a previous post, that if you aren’t writing then you aren’t reversing. Since I spend lots of time in these functions, I like to have my notes close by. Notes can be added as Function comments but the text disappears once you scroll down the function, plus the text can’t be formatted or the function comments can’t be easily exported and IDA’s Notepad suffers from the same issues (minus the export). Having all the function notes in a single pane and being able to export than to markdown is super helpful. My favorite feature of the plugin is when I scroll from function to function the text refreshes for each function.  The plugin can be seen in the right of the following image. 

Having a description accessible minimizes the amount of time I have to read code I already reversed, which is useful when opening up old IDBs. I hope others find it as useful as I do. 

Here is a link to the repo.

For more information on the Navigation band in IDA check out Igor’s post.

Please leave a comment, ping me on twitter or mastodon or create an issue on GitHub

Article Link: Hooked on Mnemonics Worked for Me: Function Trapper Keeper - An IDA Plugin For Function Notes