Hack.lu 2K13 Robots Exclusion Committee - web150

Published on Thursday, 24 October 2013 in CTF, Security ; tagged with hack.lu, ctf, write-up, web, 150, challenge, security, python, sqli, attack, burp ; text version

Hack.lu's CTF

Bonjour les gens !

The last two days, we have seen Hack.lu's CTF take place online.
It was a lot of fun, their IRC channel was really fun, so was their challenges :)

Last results? 106 over 413 applying teams. Well done HackGyver \o/

Now it's time for the write-up. More precisely, the one on Robots Exclusion Committee, their 150 points web challenge.

Robots Exclusion Committee, the challenge

REC homepage

That web page only contains few fields.
They only ask for credit cards information :)

REC result of the form

If we validate the form with some random inputs, it redirects us to a nice We are sorry response.
That looks like a XSS to me, no?

Let's try that!


if (isset($_GET['cookie']) && is_string($_GET['cookie']) && !empty($_GET['cookie'])) {
    $data = htmlentities($_GET['cookie']);
    $f = fopen('cookie.txt', 'a');
    fwrite($f, $data);


A basic cookie grabber, waiting on my server.

~/ctf/hacklu/robots_exclusion_committee ยป php -S depierre.tonbnc.fr:9000
PHP 5.5.4 Development Server started at Tue Oct 22 23:19:42 2013
Listening on http://depierre.tonbnc.fr:9000
Document root is /home/depierre/ctf/hacklu/robots_exclusion_committee
Press Ctrl-C to quit.

Now, the server is ready to collect some yummy cookies :)

<!--- And so on... -->

And I fuzz the fields with some javascript, trying several because I don't know how the server will handle/display that.
Above are a few examples that I have tried.

Please, mislead me more

Well... I am kind of disappointed...
After like half an hour/an hour, still no answer.
I guess I should look somewhere else.

To be honnest, I am running out of ideas.
The website only contains two pages, one which contains the form and the other which displays that We are sorry.

Time to guess!

Indeed, not knowing what to do, I just try to get some random pages like /admin, /login, /secret, etc.
Then I remember one thing.
When I had the opportunity to speak with some pentesters about their job, I was surpise when the told me :

About 80% of the flaws we find come from /admin and /robots.txt.

REC robots.txt

I feel better at this point. That feeling that makes you realize that you are moving further and further :)
When trying that new endpoint, I stumble upon a basic auth pop which asks for the credentials.

REC Auth vault

I don't know the creds so I guess that is normal it rejects me. I try not to take it as personnal :'(

First idea which rises from my tired brain is poking the .htaccess configuration file.
Everytime I was in front of this kind of pop-up, the way to bypass it was related to the .htaccess file.

import urllib2

def get_html_page(url):
    """Return the data page pointed by the url."""

    opener = urllib2.build_opener()

    request = urllib2.Request(url)
        'Cookie', 'session=da47b052bb5e3b0688653dc469b4f328e768cfa482a0547ec46c4850bfb2903a6c5b0ca7'

    request.get_method = lambda: 'AZA'
    f = opener.open(request)
    print f.readlines()

if __name__ == '__main__':

So let's try some verb tampering on that page using that small script above.

Sometimes, the .htaccess doesn't allow the GET method.
But older version of Apache server were kind enough to interpret every unknown methods as GET ones by default.
That's why I try the method AZA.

Only 405 Method Not Allowed.
Even other methods like PUT, etc. return the same error.

Oh come on! Let me in!

Stuck again...
It is 4am...
Bed is one step away...
Have to go to work in a couple of hours...
My brain doesn't work anymore...
Bed! Here I am :(

Fresh start

I spent all the day at work trying not to think about that.
But what does happen when you keep telling yourself 'Do not think about elephants!'?
You think about a god damn elephant!

Finally home but my brain is still full.
I think about that f*cking challenge (and the others too)...
Few hours later, still no fresh ideas...

What should I do to bypass that authentication? First, I should have a break.

After coming back from my cigarette break, I try to think out of the box.
What didn't I try? Well I am dealing with a pop-up, and that pop-up holds some fields.

Yes, it contains two fields! And what do we try with fields? XSS and... SQL injections!

REC Auth vault sqli

REC Auth vault sqli answer


I think that looks good!
Step by step I am moving further and I think I am getting close now (I really hope so).

REC Auth vault OR sqli

For the first SQLi I try is the simplest one, the OR 1=1.

REC second secret

Ah, that feeling... so good. But! (there is always a but) But it is the Secret #2 :/

Indeed, in the challenge, they are asking for the first secret.
(And honestly, it would have been too easy with just a OR 1=1 SQLi :/)

Cigarette can save lifes!

Well, I do not like you neither Robots Exclusion Committee!

Again smoking cigarettes, one after the other, trying to have fresh ideas by breathing pollutate air...
It is all about karma. Killing yourself little by little while hoping it will pity the karma :p

Suddently, I don't even have time to finish the cigarette I just light out of habit that a detail comes up in my tired mind.
Let me check that page again? Yes, it is right there! Yes, have a look: Hello admin!

Of course, admin is retrieved from the database. Which means that we have an extraction point!

Time to dig in! :)

REC SQLi test for MySQL backend

Checking if I am dealing with a MySQL backend.
And nope!

REC SQLi test for SQLite backend

Well, now I know it is a SQLite backend.
Let see what I can extract...

Little Bobby tables

REC Exploits of a Mom

I am aware that some great tools already exist (sqlmap? bbqsql?) when you want to dump a database.
But where is the fun here?
I mean yes it is a CTF, and yes we have short deadlines, but I am here for fun first!

So let's go by hand :)

REC SQLi admin password

Just to be sure, and to enjoy few more seconds, I try to extract the admin password.
And here it is: just_a_password_no_secret_here

Let's go for more useful information.

REC SQLi table name

Nice, a table labeled hiddensecrets.
What's inside? At least I want to know the names of the columns.

REC SQLi columns names

Oh, I start to really love you now Robots Exclusion Committee :)

That table contains two fields, an id and a val one.
Checking the /vault page and we see that the secret #2 is in fact the base64 of an image.
Therefore the val field must contain it.

REC SQLi secret

Aiming for the first secret, I retrieve the first row contained in that hiddensecrets table.
That looks nice, let me display it for your eyes :)

REC first secret

Therefore the flag: eat_all_robots \o/

REC challenge validation

I know that it was not such a hard challenge afterall. But I really enjoyed it!
The way it manipulated my mind was awesomely mean!
Misleading me first with these fields, then a second time with the Basic Auth and finally killing me by displaying that Secret #2...
Nice challenge qll!

Bonus: Robot Pirates (music) :)

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