BAP Plugins

BAP 1.x has introduced a new plugin architecture to make the overall platform more extensible. The plugin architecture is motivated by two competing goals. First, we want to reuse existing libraries within the framework. For example, why reinvent a new diassembler when there are various existing ones that do a great job? Second, we want to provide a single interface to upstream analysis, e.g., a control flow graph module shouldn’t care whether the original executable came from an Elf file, a PE file, or even a memory image.

The plugin architecture provides a light-weight and consistent framework for integrating third party code. Since we check plugins against well-defined interfaces, we can take advantage of the OCaml strong type checking to make sure there are no unexpected surprises. For example, a plugin for reading executable formats must expose the ability to identify sections; you simply cannot forget to include it and have the plugin type check.

A plugin is an OCaml library that is installed in the system in the place, where ocamlfind tool can find it. The META file, that describes the library should contain a string:

plugin_system = "bap.subsystem"

Where subsystem stands to a name of subsystem of BAP that you would like to extend. For example, if you are adding new image backend, then you need to plug it into the image module system:

plugin_system = "bap.image"

For example, if you are adding a new disassembler, then it should be a disasm, like

plugin_system = "bap.disasm"

All plugins are loaded with Plugins.load command. When plugin is loaded, all it code is evaluated. The actual registration of the plugin service is specific to each subsystem. But usually it includes some kind of registration, like calling Image.register_backend for the plugins of bap.image system.

There are a few noteworthy points:

  1. baptop will automatically load plugins for you.

  2. Plugins.load function shouldn’t be called from a baptop since, toplevels in OCaml have different linking rules.

  3. It is not possible to re-evaluate plugin after you have changed and reinstall it. The only way is to restart the program, or baptop.

  4. The Plugin system will check, that the plugin is compiled against the same interfaces as the main program. So, if you have updated and recompiled bap, or updated systems library that we’re depend on, then make sure, that you also reinstall your plugins. Otherwise, they won’t load.

If you’re writing your own plugin, then we suggest you use the oasis tool to generate all the necessary files and scripts. A minimum oasis file would be:

OASISFormat: 0.4
Name:        bap
Version:     0.2
Synopsis:    BAP Core Library
Authors:     Plugin Writers
License:     MIT
Copyrights:  (C) 2014 Carnegie Mellon University
Plugins:     META (0.4), DevFiles (0.4)
BuildTools: ocamlbuild, camlp4o

Library elf_backend
  Path:            .
  FindlibName:     our_fancy_bap_plugin
  XMETAExtraLines: plugin_system = "bap.image"
  CompiledObject:  best
  BuildDepends:    bap
  Modules:         A, B, C

A detailed interface to plugin system is provided in Plugin and Plugins modules. For example, you can look at all available plugins with this command (assuming that Core_kernel.Std is opened):

# Plugins.all () |>;;
- : bytes list = ["bap.image.elf_backend"]