Thursday, September 22, 2011

Debugging threads - Olly

Recently I was debugging a piece of malware which launched numerous threads inside, after it ran. Now, after the thread spawned, I could no longer F7 or F8 my way through the malware and understand things. This was because it was the thread which was doing all the work. So somehow I needed to get into the thread.

The first thing I did was 'Right click' and then select a thread from the Threads sub menu. That though just seemed to take me to system space, which was kind of useless. I wanted to see what the Thread did in User Space.

I looked at the CreateThread API then, which was what was being used. The 3rd argument to the function was a start address for the thread. I did a Ctrl+G, went to that address in Olly and put a breakpoint there, and then restarted the program. Went on as normal till CreateThread and then F9'd to run till next breakpoint. The main thread still "hung" but I did break inside UserMode for the Thread and could debug it.. yay :)

If you want to break even before UserMode and want to track it the moment the thread is launched, you can set debugging options in Olly to break each time a new thread is started or stopped. There's simple check boxes under the Options menu. Go search :)

The last bit is when  the Thread itself just says Thread Terminated and you again cannot F7 or F8 because there is nothing left to F7 or F8 into. You need to get back to the main thread, where the CreateThread API was called. Makes sense ..rt? Main.. created a thread...I debugged I come back to main...once I finish debugging the thread.

To do so, pause the program(F12) after the thread terminates and hit Alt+F9 to return to user mode. This will bring you right to the spot after CreateThread was first called.

Hope this helps someone newish to reversing :). Have fun!!

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