Force Open: Lightweight black box file repair

Karl Wüst*, Petar Tsankov, Saša Radomirović, Mohammad Torabi Dashti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


We present a novel approach for automatic repair of corrupted files that applies to any common file format and does not require knowledge of its structure. Our lightweight approach modifies the execution of a file viewer instead of the file data and makes use of instrumentation and execution hijacking, two techniques from software testing. It uses a file viewer as a black box and does not require access to its source code or any knowledge about its inner workings. We present our implementation of this approach and evaluate it on corrupted PNG, JPEG, and PDF files.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S75-S82
Number of pages8
JournalDigital Investigation
Issue numberSupplement
Early online date21 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


  • Black box testing
  • Execution hijacking
  • File repair
  • Program instrumentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Medical Laboratory Technology
  • Law


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