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x96 - HackTheVote CTF


In this challenge, we are given a 32-bit ELF called x96.

After disassembling it in IDA, we get the following code at the entry point.

LOAD:8048054 start           proc far
LOAD:8048054                 dec     eax
LOAD:8048055                 mov     ax, cs
LOAD:8048058                 cmp     ax, 23h
LOAD:804805C                 jnz     loc_80481A5
LOAD:8048062                 push    eax
LOAD:8048063                 or      al, 13h
LOAD:8048065                 push    eax
LOAD:8048066                 push    offset dword_804806C
LOAD:804806B                 retf

The retf instruction at the end pops the IP followed by the CS register. Looking at the preceding instructions, we can see that the value of CS register becomes 0x33 and that of IP becomes 0x804806c which is actually the next instruction in the code.

However, IDA fails to identify it as code. After doing some research I came across the fact that when CS is set to 0x33 the instructions are interpreted as 64-bit. You can read more about it here. Another interesting artefact of interpreting the code as 64-bit with IDA thinking it as 32-bit is that we see a lot of dec eax instructions. Coincidentally I remembered a Tweet related to this that I had stored in my bookmarks.

So, in order to understand the code, we need IDA to interpret it as 64-bit. We can do this by selecting the area that we want to generate code for (in the text-view) then going to Edit > Segment > Create Segment. In the dialog box that follows, make sure to select 64-bit segment. Once we have repurposed that area we can go to Edit > Code to generate the 64-bit code for that segment.

64seg:804806C loc_804806C:
64seg:804806C                 mov     rax, 0DF3A0F66090F1B37h
64seg:8048076                 mov     rdi, 0E9F4E2EBE86423CAh
64seg:8048080                 xor     eax, eax
64seg:8048082                 xor     rdi, rdi
64seg:8048085                 mov     rsi, 80481F6h
64seg:804808C                 mov     rdx, 24h
64seg:8048093                 syscall ; LINUX - sys_read
64seg:8048095                 mov     rdx, offset sub_8048175
64seg:804809C                 mov     ecx, 0
64seg:80480A1 loc_80480A1:
64seg:80480A1                 mov     rbx, 358D0150819CF3C4h
64seg:80480AB                 ror     rbx, cl
64seg:80480AE                 cmp     ecx, 24h
64seg:80480B1                 jz      loc_8048154
64seg:80480B7                 mov     al, [ecx+80481F6h]
64seg:80480BE                 xor     al, bl
64seg:80480C0                 mov     r15, 0B8E8AE0F00000000h
64seg:80480CA                 cmp     al, ds:byte_80481C3[ecx]
64seg:80480D1                 jz      short loc_8048115
64seg:80480D3                 push    0
64seg:80480D5                 mov     rax, 2300000000h
64seg:80480DF                 shr     rax, 18h
64seg:80480E3                 mov     dword ptr [rsp+4], 0
64seg:80480EB                 mov     [rsp+7], ah
64seg:80480EF                 mov     dword ptr [rsp], offset unk_80480F8
64seg:80480F6                 retfq

Beyond this, we get another string of data which IDA didn't recognize as code. However, this time it is 32-bit code. So we can simply hit Edit > Code to get the intended code.

_32seg:80480F8 loc_80480F8:
_32seg:80480F8                 dec     eax
_32seg:80480F9                 mov     eax, 0
_32seg:80480FE                 mov     edx, offset loc_80481A5
_32seg:8048103                 inc     ecx
_32seg:8048104                 dec     eax
_32seg:8048105                 mov     eax, 23h
_32seg:804810A                 push    eax
_32seg:804810B                 dec     eax
_32seg:804810C                 or      al, 13h
_32seg:804810E                 push    eax
_32seg:804810F                 push    offset loc_80480A1
_32seg:8048114                 retf
_32seg:8048114 _32seg          ends

After we have the "right" code, the program is trivially easy to crack. It checks the user input against the XOR of a set of values in the data section (at address 0x80481C3) with a rotating value in a register (all of this is included in the code above).

Here I have written a python script to get the flag:

rbx = 0x358D0150819CF3C4

data = [0xa2, 0x8e, 0x90, 0x1f, 0x47, 0xf0, 0xfc, 0x9f, 0x87, 0x26, \
        0x48, 0xaf, 0xa2, 0xd4, 0x2c, 0x4e, 0xaf, 0x91, 0x0d, 0x46, \
        0x74, 0x7c, 0x59, 0x77, 0xb1, 0x1f, 0x52, 0x23, 0x3c, 0xe8, \
        0x1d, 0xcc, 0x60, 0xcc, 0x67, 0x57]

def ror(n,d):
    return (n>>d)|(n<<(64-d)) & 0xFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

flag = ''
for i in range(0x24):
    flag += chr(data[i] ^ (ror(rbx,i)&0xff))


Flag: flag{n3xt_t1m3_w3_jump_t0_r34l_m0d3}