RPC bridge from Python to Ghidra Jython
Ghidra is great, and I like scripting as much of my RE as possible. But Ghidra's Python scripting is based on Jython, which isn't in a great state these days. Installing new packages is a hassle, if they can even run in a Jython environment, and it's only going to get worse as Python 2 slowly gets turned off.
So Ghidra Bridge is an effort to sidestep that problem - instead of being stuck in Jython, set up an RPC proxy for Python objects, so we can call into Ghidra/Jython-land to get the data we need, then bring it back to a more up-to-date Python with all the packages you need to do your work.
The aim is to be as transparent as possible, so once you're set up, you shouldn't need to know if an object is local or from the remote Ghidra - the bridge should seamlessly handle getting/setting/calling against it.
If you like this, you might also be interested in the equivalents for other reverse-engineering tools:
Table of contents
- How to use for Ghidra
- Security warning
- Remote eval
- Long-running commands
- Remote imports
- Interactive mode
- How it works
- Design principles
How to use for Ghidra
Install the Ghidra Bridge package and server scripts
- Install the ghidra_bridge package (packaged at https://pypi.org/project/ghidra-bridge/):
pip install ghidra_bridge
- Install the server scripts to a directory on the Ghidra's script path (e.g., ~/ghidra_scripts, or you can add more directories in the Ghidra Script Manager by clicking the "3 line" button left of the big red "plus" at the top of the Script Manager).
python -m ghidra_bridge.install_server ~/ghidra_scripts
- (optional) In the Ghidra Script Manager, select the Bridge folder and click the "In Tool" checkbox at the far left for the ghidra_bridge_server_background.py and ghidra_bridge_server_shutdown.py scripts. This will add these scripts as convenient menu items in Tools->Ghidra Bridge.
For a better interactive shell like IPython or if you need Python 3 libraries in your interactive environment you can start the bridge in the context of an interactive GUI session.
- If you've done step 3 in the install instructions above, click Tools->Ghidra Bridge->Run in Background.
- Open the Ghidra Script Manager.
- Select the Bridge folder.
- Run the ghidra_bridge_server_background.py script for a clean, no-popups bridge. You can also use ghidra_bridge_server.py if for some reason you want a big script popup in your face the whole time.
Headless Analysis Context
You can run Ghidra Bridge as a post analysis script for a headless analysis and then run some further analysis from the client. Use the ghidra_bridge_server.py (not _background.py) for this one, so it doesn't exit until you shut the bridge down.
$ghidraRoot/support/analyzeHeadless <path to directory to store project> <name for project> -import <path to file to import> -scriptPath <install directory for the server scripts> -postscript ghidra_bridge_server.py
See the analyzeHeadlessREADME.html in Ghidra's support/ directory for more information about how to run the analyzeHeadless command, if required.
You can start the bridge in an environment without any program loaded, for example if you want to access some API like the DataTypeManager that doesn't require a program being analyzed
$ghidraRoot/support/pythonRun <install directory for the server scripts>/ghidra_bridge_server.py
From the client python environment:
import ghidra_bridge with ghidra_bridge.GhidraBridge(namespace=globals()): print(getState().getCurrentAddress().getOffset()) ghidra.program.model.data.DataUtilities.isUndefinedData(currentProgram, currentAddress)
import ghidra_bridge b = ghidra_bridge.GhidraBridge(namespace=globals()) # creates the bridge and loads the flat API into the global namespace print(getState().getCurrentAddress().getOffset()) # ghidra module implicitly loaded at the same time as the flat API ghidra.program.model.data.DataUtilities.isUndefinedData(currentProgram, currentAddress)
Shutting Down the Server
Warning: if you're running in non-background mode, avoid clicking the "Cancel" button on the script popup, as this will leave the server socket in a bad state, and you'll have to completely close Ghidra to fix it.
To shutdown the server cleanly, if you've done step 3 in the install instructions above, click Tools->Ghidra Bridge->Shutdown. Otherwise, run the ghidra_bridge_server_shutdown.py script from the Bridge folder.
Alternatively, you can call remote_shutdown from any connected client.
import ghidra_bridge b = ghidra_bridge.GhidraBridge(namespace=globals()) b.remote_shutdown()
Be aware that when running, a Ghidra Bridge server effectively provides code execution as a service. If an attacker is able to talk to the port Ghidra Bridge is running on, they can trivially gain execution with the privileges Ghidra is run with.
Also be aware that the protocol used for sending and receiving Ghidra Bridge messages is unencrypted and unverified - a person-in-the-middle attack would allow complete control of the commands and responses, again providing trivial code execution on the server (and with a little more work, on the client).
Ghidra Bridge is designed to be transparent, to allow easy porting of non-bridged scripts without too many changes. However, if you're happy to make changes, and you run into slowdowns caused by running lots of remote queries (e.g., something like
for function in currentProgram.getFunctionManager().getFunctions(): doSomething() can be quite slow with a large number of functions as each function will result in a message across the bridge), you can make use of the remote_eval() function to ask for the result to be evaluated on the bridge server all at once, which will require only a single message roundtrip.
The following example demonstrates getting a list of all the names of all the functions in a binary:
import ghidra_bridge b = ghidra_bridge.GhidraBridge(namespace=globals()) name_list = b.remote_eval("[ f.getName() for f in currentProgram.getFunctionManager().getFunctions(True)]")
If your evaluation is going to take some time, you might need to use the timeout_override argument to increase how long the bridge will wait before deciding things have gone wrong.
If you need to supply an argument for the remote evaluation, you can provide arbitrary keyword arguments to the remote_eval function which will be passed into the evaluation context as local variables. The following argument passes in a function:
import ghidra_bridge b = ghidra_bridge.GhidraBridge(namespace=globals()) func = currentProgram.getFunctionManager().getFunctions(True).next() mnemonics = b.remote_eval("[ i.getMnemonicString() for i in currentProgram.getListing().getInstructions(f.getBody(), True)]", f=func)
As a simplification, note also that the evaluation context has the same globals loaded into the __main__ of the script that started the server - in the case of the Ghidra Bridge server, these include the flat API and values such as the currentProgram.
If you have a particularly slow call in your script, it may hit the response timeout that the bridge uses to make sure the connection hasn't broken. If this happens, you'll see something like
Exception: Didn't receive response <UUID> before timeout.
There are two options to increase the timeout. When creating the bridge, you can set a timeout value in seconds with the response_timeout argument (e.g.,
b = ghidra_bridge.GhidraBridge(namespace=globals(), response_timeout=20)) which will apply to all commands run across the bridge. Alternatively, if you just want to change the timeout for one command, you can use remote_eval as mentioned above, with the timeout_override argument (e.g.,
b.remote_eval("[ f.getName() for f in currentProgram.getFunctionManager().getFunctions(True)]", timeout_override=20)). If you use the value -1 for either of these arguments, the response timeout will be disabled and the bridge will wait forever for your response to come back - note that this can cause your script to hang if the bridge runs into problems.
If you want to import modules from the ghidra-side (e.g., ghidra, java, docking namespaces), you have two options.
- Use remote_import to get a BridgedModule back directly (e.g.,
remote_module = b.remote_import("java.math.BigInteger")). This has the advantage that you have exact control over getting the remote module (and can get remote modules with the same name as local modules) and when it's released, but it does take a little more work.
- Specify hook_import=True when creating the bridge (e.g.,
b = ghidra_bridge.GhidraBridge(namespace=globals(), hook_import=True)). This will add a hook to the import machinery such that, if nothing else can fill the import, the bridge will try to handle it. This allows you to just use the standard
import ghidra.framework.model.ToolListenersyntax after you've connected the bridge. This has the advantage that it may be a little easier to use (you still have to make sure the imports happen AFTER the bridge is connected), but it doesn't allow you to import remote modules with the same name as local modules (the local imports take precedence) and it places the remote modules in sys.modules as proper imports, so they and the bridge will likely stay loaded until the process terminates. Additionally, multiple bridges with hook_import=True will attempt to resolve imports in the order they were connected, which may not be the behaviour you want.
Normally, Ghidra scripts get an instance of the Ghidra state and current* variables (currentProgram, currentAddress, etc) when first started, and it doesn't update while the script runs. However, if you run the Ghidra Python interpreter, that updates its state with every command, so that currentAddress always matches the GUI.
To reflect this, GhidraBridge will automatically attempt to determine if you're running the client in an interactive environment (e.g., the Python interpreter, iPython) or just from a script. If it's an interactive environment, it'll register an event listener with Ghidra and perform some dubious behind-the-scenes shenanigans to make sure that the state is updated with GUI changes to behave like the Ghidra Python interpreter. It'll also replace
help() with one that reaches out to use Ghidra's help across the bridge if you give it a bridged object.
You shouldn't have to care about this, but if for some reason the auto-detection doesn't give you the result you need, you can specify the boolean interactive_mode argument when creating your client GhidraBridge to force it on or off as required.
How it works
The actual bridge RPC code is implemented in jfx-bridge. Check it out there and file non-Ghidra specific issues related to the bridge there.
- Needs to be run in Ghidra/Jython 2.7 and Python 3
- Needs to be easy to install in Ghidra - no pip install, just add a single directory (these two requirements ruled out some of the more mature Python RPC projects I looked into)
- Tested and working on Ghidra 9.1(Jython 2.7.1) <-> Python 3.7.3 on Windows
- Automatically tested on Ghidra 9.0(Jython 2.7.1) <-> Python 3.5.3 on Linux (bskaggs/ghidra docker image)
- Ghidra plugin for server control (cleaner start/stop, port selection, easy packaging/install)
- Jupyter notebook
- Thx @fmagin for better iPython support, and much more useful reprs!
- Thanks also to @fmagin for remote_eval, allowing faster remote processing for batch queries!
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