← Back to blog

Published on 01/08/2024 00:01 by Jacob Latonis

100 Days of Yara in 2024: Day 08

I have some more load commands to parse! This time, we’re covering LC_BUILD_VERSION load commands, which are present in multi-architecture Mach-O binaries. They can give us insight into where the binary was intended to run, if its newer or older, and more!

The Data Layout

Again, we are going to use our trusty loader.h file for Mach-O binaries. It indentifiers

 * The build_version_command contains the min OS version on which this
 * binary was built to run for its platform.  The list of known platforms and
 * tool values following it.
struct build_version_command {
    uint32_t	cmd;		/* LC_BUILD_VERSION */
    uint32_t	cmdsize;	/* sizeof(struct build_version_command) plus */
                                /* ntools * sizeof(struct build_tool_version) */
    uint32_t	platform;	/* platform */
    uint32_t	minos;		/* X.Y.Z is encoded in nibbles xxxx.yy.zz */
    uint32_t	sdk;		/* X.Y.Z is encoded in nibbles xxxx.yy.zz */
    uint32_t	ntools;		/* number of tool entries following this */

struct build_tool_version {
    uint32_t	tool;		/* enum for the tool */
    uint32_t	version;	/* version number of the tool */

/* Known values for the platform field above. */
#define PLATFORM_IOS 2

/* Known values for the tool field above. */
#define TOOL_CLANG 1
#define TOOL_SWIFT 2
#define TOOL_LD	3

I mapped this data out into the following structures in Rust:

/// `BuildVersionCommand`: Represents a build version command in the Mach-O file.
/// Fields: cmd, cmdsize, platform, minos, sdk, ntools
#[derive(Debug, Default, Clone, Copy)]
struct BuildVersionCommand {
    cmd: u32,
    cmdsize: u32,
    platform: u32,
    minos: u32,
    sdk: u32,
    ntools: u32,

/// `BuildToolObject`: Represents a build Tool struct in the Mach-O file following the
/// BuildVersionCommand
/// Fields: tool, version
#[derive(Debug, Default, Clone, Copy)]
struct BuildToolObject {
    tool: u32,
    version: u32,

Parsing the Data

This one is slightly more complicated to parse than our earlier load commands, as it has the standard struct of build_version_command, but we also need to dynamically parse the amount of tools counted by the build_version_command.ntools field.

Handling Function

The handling function involves some error checking, invoking the parsing function, and setting the relevant details in the protobuf representation.

fn handle_build_version_command(
    command_data: &[u8],
    size: usize,
    macho_file: &mut File,
) -> Result<(), MachoError> {
    if size < std::mem::size_of::<BuildVersionCommand>() {
        return Err(MachoError::FileSectionTooSmall(

    let swap = should_swap_bytes(

    let (_, mut bc) = parse_build_version_command(command_data)
        .map_err(|e| MachoError::ParsingError(format!("{:?}", e)))?;

    if swap {
        swap_build_version_command(&mut bc);

    macho_file.build_version = MessageField::some(BuildVersion {
        platform: Some(bc.platform),
        minos: Some(convert_to_version_string(bc.minos)),
        sdk: Some(convert_to_version_string(bc.sdk)),
        ntools: Some(bc.ntools),

    for _n in 0..bc.ntools {
        let (_, mut bt) = parse_build_tool(command_data)
            .map_err(|e| MachoError::ParsingError(format!("{:?}", e)))?;

        if swap {
            swap_build_tool(&mut bt)

        macho_file.build_tools.push(BuildTool {
            tool: Some(bt.tool),
            version: Some(bt.version),


Parsing Function

The parsing function will be called by the handling function above. We have two parsing functions for the two structs:

fn parse_build_version_command(
    input: &[u8],
) -> IResult<&[u8], BuildVersionCommand> {
    let (input, cmd) = le_u32(input)?;
    let (input, cmdsize) = le_u32(input)?;
    let (input, platform) = le_u32(input)?;
    let (input, minos) = le_u32(input)?;
    let (input, sdk) = le_u32(input)?;
    let (input, ntools) = le_u32(input)?;

        BuildVersionCommand { cmd, cmdsize, platform, minos, sdk, ntools },

fn parse_build_tool(input: &[u8]) -> IResult<&[u8], BuildToolObject> {
    let (input, tool) = le_u32(input)?;
    let (input, version) = le_u32(input)?;

    Ok((input, BuildToolObject { tool, version }))

End Result

I had to go on the search for newer testing files for this load command, as all of the current Mach-O tests in YARA-X did not have this load command present. After finding one and converting the binary to the proper format mentioned in this post, we can now see the relevant data being parsed in our goldenfiles and testing from this snippet below:


        platform: 1
        minos: "10.15.0"
        sdk: "14.2.0"
        ntools: 1
      - tool: 50
        version: 32


Finished Work

I submitted a PR to YARA-X here: #68 :)

Written by Jacob Latonis

← Back to blog