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Is Reverse Engineering Legal & Other FAQs

is reverse engineering legal and other FAQ
Image Courtesy; Google

Reverse engineering is the technique one might have heard consistently these days. It is basically called back-engineering and as its name suggests, it is performed by reversing the steps of regular engineering. For the purpose of unraveling the design and manufacturing structure of any man made object, reverse engineering is performed. Well, often this significant technique of engineering is applied with plenty of questions. Therefore, to have a complete idea of this technique, let us discuss the common FAQs on the topic of reverse engineering like is reverse engineering legal, etc and availing reverse engineering services.

1. Is Reverse Engineering Legal?

The legality of reverse engineering varies based on the geographic region or the country. Such as in the United States of America, under section 103(f) the reverse engineering of the software products without disruption of the source rights is legal. This means the software product or related entities can be investigated under the legal rights, for ethical purposes. But in countries like India, Reverse engineering of the software entities like applications, websites, and devices is not legal as it is protected by the passcode system or patent system.  Therefore, in countries like India, you can only reverse engineer if you have legitimate access to the product documentation or passcode.

2. What Are The Three Stages Of Reverse Engineering?

The three stages of the reverse engineering process are implementation recovery, design recovery, and analysis recovery. Let us discuss all three steps in detail.

A) Implementation Recovery: 

In this step of reverse engineering, the reverse engineer first browses the documentation about the product. In this step, the basic analysis over what is the product about is performed by the engineer. This results in the understanding of the manufacturer’s notion behind creation of the product. This might be just the beginning but it allows you to understand many things about the product.

This process is further bifurcated in the following sub-steps.

  • Tentative entity: Identifying tentative entities from the product. Identification and labeling of all the entities is the major aspect of this process.
  • Tentative relation: Finding out the relation between the entities that are discovered. The identified relation between different entities leads to the definition of the product’s development process.
  • Tentative attribute: The elements or entities that fit in the same functionality have the same attribute. This means the function of the entity becomes its attribute and the entities of the same attribute become a part of the specified output in the product manufacturing process.
  • Notes and indexes: Giving tags to the entities is the process of indexing. The entities are noted and tagged according to functionality in this indexing process.

B) Design Recovery :

In this step of design recovery, the design engineer basically unravels the mechanism and database of the product.  In this process, the reverse engineer works on the following aspects of the product design.

  • Identity: In this process, the reverse engineer first identifies the design criteria of every entity individually. The design aspects of each entity give access to the understanding of how the entities fit together. The entities that do not fit in the design protocol are further labeled, unidentified.
  • Foreign Entities: The unidentified entities are labeled as foreign entities. These foreign entities are further defined with the design analysis. The reason behind assembling or inserting the entity at a specific location on the product is identified in this process. It is also known as foreign key recovery.
  • Investigation: The foreign keys are discussed and brainstormed for the functionality; this phase is called an investigation. Multiple questions are answered in the investigation phase to get a deeper understanding of the product.

C) Analysis Recovery :

In the analysis recovery phase, the model integrations are verified for mathematical calculations and the ideation of the product.

3. What Is The Advantage Of Reverse Engineering?

  • Reverse engineering allows analyzing the development cycle of the product which already exists.
  • It helps in redesigning a product that already exists; the development cycle of any product can be analyzed for the design specifications.
  • Product vulnerabilities are discovered by performing reverse engineering in order to modify the product.
  • It helps in creating a reliable CAD model or layout for future references.
  • It helps motivating creative minds to take inspiration from the old techniques. It keeps on adding value to the development process and its evaluation.

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