In Defense of Reverse Engineering
Alex Gantman
461

Well written.

Making the very act of trying to work out why a thing working yesterday isn’t working today into a criminal act? It’s right up there with the stupidity of banning every drug except those on a list (oh, hello England) or killing all people wearing glasses for being “educated” (Cambodia under Pol Pot)

It literally makes no sense. The spirit of enquiry and working out how things work? Why one thing leads to another? That, as much as using tools, is what makes us human. The modern human uses a far, far wider range of tools than we used to, and we have so many new things to investigate, made by others like us.

To disallow that? Pure insanity.

The easy way to ensure that your team falls behind is to damage their ability to keep up. What could damage more, than removing the ability to see how and fathom out why something was done by your opponents? Because what happens in war and war-by-other-means, in commercial settings, in espionage, is that a group of very clever people try to out-do the other group. Without insight you’ll never keep abreast of the techniques in use. And without knowing the state of the art, you’ll just waste time and energy doing again what others already did.

Also, don’t imagine this is a single sided battle — you vs “them” — frequently, poor documentation means that it is better to start again from scratch, or to ask an expert to reverse engineer your own design, to save that expense of rebuilding from scratch.

A full set of tools is vital. Learning the tricks and techniques is also vital. Reverse engineering must not be a crime.