Because of the nature of reverse engineering, we may possibly use tools of gray or possibly illegal nature to aid our work, even if the work's intention is not for illegal use.

I recently posted an answer regarding decrypting iOS binaries, in which there is a lengthy and error prone manual process. There are many automated tools to complete this, which are widely regarded as piracy tools (e.g. Hackulous' Clutch). However, they also solve a large set of issues presented in the question and are extremely efficient (Decrypting IPAs). As such I've refrained from mentioning or linking to the relevant tools.

Is there a specific set of rules with regards to discussing and linking to possibly illegal tools?

3 Answers 3


The problem is that whether something is legal or not depends on time and space (literally) as well as the context (cracking versus establishing interoperability).

Since RE.SE is hosted in the US we can probably go by the extensive free speech rights granted under US law.

Also, you need not link to a tool if you think it's within that gray area. Why not instead present a number of sensible search terms that enable the reader to find what you intend them to find?


Is there such a thing as an illegal tool in the US? I know in the EU we have a couple of countries where hacking tools can be illegal but since StackExchange is hosted in the US I can only imagine they have very strong freedom of speech protection.

The only tools I could see being an issue linking to are tools which is infringing someone else's copyright. The same issue applies to posting large binary dumps or large assembly dumps. The data you post in your comment could well be copyright someone who doesn't want it posted here. Therefore I would strongly advice against posting large amounts of unknown binary data or disassembly listings.

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    DMCA and penalties for linking to tools that have the sole purpose of circumventing copy protection that is non-exempt is sticky in the US. Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 17:03
  • Yeah the DMCA is a bit dicy to say the least. There's a corresponding law in the EU that I can't remember the name of which might apply as well. Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 17:32

I don't know the policy on THIS stack site, but generally on other stack sites I go by the "Could someone ostensibly sue the nice folks at stack-exchange for this?". If yes, I don't do it. If no, I still use a little judgement.

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