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Last updated: May 13, 2024

Symbolic Execution

You can find an introduction to binary analysis using binary analysis frameworks in "Dynamic Analysis on Android". We recommend you to revisit that content and refresh the concepts on this subject.

For Android, we used Angr's symbolic execution engine to solve a challenge. In this section, we will firstly use Unicorn to solve the UnCrackable App for iOS Level 1 challenge and then we will revisit the Angr binary analysis framework to analyze the challenge but instead of symbolic execution we will use its concrete execution (or dynamic execution) features.


Angr is a very versatile tool, providing multiple techniques to facilitate binary analysis, while supporting various file formats and hardware instructions sets.

The Mach-O backend in Angr is not well-supported, but it works perfectly fine for our case.

While manually analyzing the code in the Reviewing Disassembled Native Code" section, we reached a point where performing further manual analysis was cumbersome. The function at offset 0x1000080d4 was identified as the final target which contains the secret string.

If we revisit that function, we can see that it involves multiple sub-function calls and interestingly none of these functions have any dependencies on other library calls or system calls. This is a perfect case to use Angr's concrete execution engine. Follow the steps below to solve this challenge:

  • Get the ARM64 version of the binary by running lipo -thin arm64 <app_binary> -output uncrackable.arm64 (ARMv7 can be used as well).
  • Create an Angr Project by loading the above binary.
  • Get a callable object by passing the address of the function to be executed. From the Angr documentation: "A Callable is a representation of a function in the binary that can be interacted with like a native python function.".
  • Pass the above callable object to the concrete execution engine, which in this case is claripy.backends.concrete.
  • Access the memory and extract the string from the pointer returned by the above function.
import angr
import claripy

def solve():

    # Load the binary by creating angr project.
    project = angr.Project('uncrackable.arm64')

    # Pass the address of the function to the callable
    func = project.factory.callable(0x1000080d4)

    # Get the return value of the function
    ptr_secret_string = claripy.backends.concrete.convert(func()).value
    print("Address of the pointer to the secret string: " + hex(ptr_secret_string))

    # Extract the value from the pointer to the secret string
    secret_string = func.result_state.mem[ptr_secret_string].string.concrete
    print(f"Secret String: {secret_string}")


Above, Angr executed an ARM64 code in an execution environment provided by one of its concrete execution engines. The result is accessed from the memory as if the program is executed on a real device. This case is a good example where binary analysis frameworks enable us to perform a comprehensive analysis of a binary, even in the absence of specialized devices needed to run it.