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Published on February 27th, 2016 📆 | 5114 Views ⚑


FIRMADYNE — Linux Embedded Firmware Dynamic Analysis

FIRMADYNE is an automated and scalable system for performing emulation and dynamic analysis of Linux-based embedded firmware. It includes the following components:

  • modified kernels (MIPS: v2.6.32, ARM: v4.1, v3.10) for instrumentation of firmware execution;
  • a userspace NVRAM library to emulate a hardware NVRAM peripheral;
  • an extractor to extract a filesystem and kernel from downloaded firmware;
  • a small console application to spawn an additional shell for debugging;
  • and a scraper to download firmware from 42+ different vendors.


There are also three basic automated analyses using the FIRMADYNE system.

  • Accessible Webpages: This script iterates through each file within the filesystem of a firmware image that appears to be served by a webserver, and aggregates the results based on whether they appear to required authentication.
  • SNMP Information: This script dumps the contents of the public and private SNMP v2c communities to disk using no credentials.
  • Vulnerability Check: This script tests for the presence of 74 vulnerabilities using exploits from Metasploit and other sources.


In 2016 Network and Distributed System Security Symposium (NDSS) paper, titled Towards Automated Dynamic Analysis for Linux-based Embedded Firmware, team evaluated the FIRMADYNE system over a dataset of 23,035 firmware images, of which they were able to extract 9,486. Using 60 exploits from theMetasploit Framework, and 14 previously-unknown vulnerabilities were discovered, showing that 846 out of 1,971 (43%) firmware images were vulnerable to at least one exploit, affecting 89+ different products. For more details, refer to the paper linked above.

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Note: This project is a research tool, and is currently not production ready. In particular, some components are quite immature and rough. It is suggested running the system within a virtual machine. No support is offered, but pull requests are greatly appreciated, whether for documentation, tests, or code!



The following has been tested on a Ubuntu 14.04 machine. Other Debian-based systems should also be compatible. First, clone this repository recursively and install its dependencies.

sudo apt-get install busybox fakeroot git kpartx netcat-openbsd nmap python-psycopg2 python3-psycopg2 snmp uml-utilities util-linux vlan
git clone --recursive



The extractor depends on the binwalk tool, so we need to install that and its dependencies.

git clone
sudo ./binwalk/
sudo python ./binwalk/ install
For Python 2.x, sudo apt-get install python-lzma
sudo -H pip install git+

Instead of upstream jefferson, it is recommended to install jefferson fork, which supports extraction of additional file and compression types. Optionally, instead of upstream sasquatch, sasquatch fork can be used to prevent false positives by making errors fatal.



Next, install, set up, and configure the database.

sudo apt-get install postgresql
sudo -u postgres createuser -P firmadyne, with password firmadyne
sudo -u postgres createdb -O firmadyne firmware
sudo -u postgres psql -d firmware < ./firmadyne/database/schema



To download pre-built binaries for all components, run the following script:

cd ./firmadyne; ./



To use QEMU provided by your distribution:

sudo apt-get install qemu-system-arm qemu-system-mips qemu-utils

Alternatively, use modified version of qemu-linaro for certain firmware with an alphafs webserver that assumes a fixed memory mapping (not recommended), or upstream qemu.

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  1. Set FIRMWARE_DIR in firmadyne.config to point to the root of this repository.
  2. Download a firmware image, e.g. v2.0.3 for Netgear WNAP320.
    • wget
  3. Use the extractor to recover only the filesystem, no kernel (-nk), no parallel operation (-np), populating the imagetable in the SQL server at (-sql) with the Netgear brand (-b), and storing the tarball in images.
    • ./sources/extractor/ -b Netgear -sql -np -nk "WNAP320 Firmware Version" images
  4. Identify the architecture of firmware 1 and store the result in the image table of the database.
    • ./scripts/ ./images/1.tar.gz
  5. Load the contents of the filesystem for firmware 1 into the database, populating the object andobject_to_imagetables.
    • ./scripts/ -i 1 -f ./images/1.tar.gz
  6. Create the QEMU disk image for firmware 1.
    • sudo ./scripts/ 1
  7. Infer the network configuration for firmware 1. Kernel messages are logged to./scratch/1/qemu.initial.serial.log.
    • ./scripts/ 1
  8. Emulate firmware 1 with the inferred network configuration. This will modify the configuration of the host system by creating a TAP device and adding a route.
    • ./scratch/1/
  9. The system should be available over the network, and is ready for analysis. Kernel messages are logged to./scratch/1/
    • ./analyses/
    • ./analyses/ 1 log.txt
    • mkdir exploits; ./analyses/ -t -o exploits/exploit -e x(requires Metasploit Framework)
    • sudo nmap -O -sV
  10. To access a console in the firmware, use a presupplied debug run script to access the default console (no network access), modify the network-enabled script to provide console access, or use the second console provided by the framework.
    • ./scripts/ 1
    • nc -U /tmp/qemu.1.S1
  11. The following scripts can be used to mount/unmount the filesystem of firmware 1. Ensure that the emulated firmware is not running, and remember to unmount before performing any other operations.
    • sudo ./scripts/ 1
    • sudo ./scripts/ 1


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