Tags: crypto web 

Rating: 2.3

The text on the page says this:

> Flag is hitcon{ENCRYPTION_KEY}, and here is a hint for you :P
>
> P.S. If you fail in submitting the flag and want to argue with author, read the source first!

That note in itself is a huge hint, but it also links to a file named hint.py with these contents:

`assert ENCRYPTION_KEY.islower()`

If you look around the page, you'll notice the links are all in a kinda weird format. For example:

`An Innovative Phishing Style`

The bytes of the `s` query parameter don't have any obvious pattern, and based on the text at the top of the page, we're most likely looking at ciphertext.

If you look for patterns in the ciphertext, you'll find that all of the URLs have lengths divisible by 8-bytes, that the lengths correlate to the lengths of the link texts, and that many links tend to have 8-byte blocks in common:

`Collecting Shells by the Sea of NAS Vulnerabilities`

`Siaberrys Command Injection Vulnerability`

Based on all of these hints, we can infer that a 64-bit block cipher is used to encode data into each link, and we can deduce some plaintext for some of the blocks:

```sh
d86efe9ad771aa53 f068f8c831c327cf 26782d51e9396e5d 7f91ae7dc27a59f4 9c5910c938f642b5 d9d51086fba2caaf aee2b8b4568118b5
C o l l e c t i n g . S h e l l s . b y . t h e . S e a . o f . N A S . V u l n e r a b i l i t i e s
f7076268d41d8054 ab07648d1373cdb2 586c6d1db77c33c8 42aa7c80bae5f78f d9d51086fba2caaf c1ec71ffc2863054
S i a b e r r y s . C o m m a n d . I n j e c t i o n . V u l n e r a b i l i t y
```

If we guess that the algorithm used is DES, we can try brute-forcing the encryption key for the the `42aa7c80bae5f78f` block, whose plaintext is "njection". The hints we've been given imply that the key is a lowercase string, so even if we're wrong about the algorithm being DES, the possible keyspace is very small and exhaused quickly, so we may as well try:

`hashcat -m 14000 42aa7c80bae5f78f:6e6a656374696f6e -a 3 '?l?l?l?l?l?l?l?l' --force`

And we get a result pretty quickly: "ldgonaro"

Note: You could brute-force any block, but it's a good idea to avoid blocks with symbols as we don't know how they might be encoded at this point.

You can now use this key to decrypt URLs and see the full contents. But if you try to submit `hitcon{ldgonaro}`, you won't get any points despite submitting a working encryption key. The least-significant bit in each byte of a DES key is ignored during encryption/decryption. So there are actually 256 equivalent keys. If you exclude the keys that aren't made up of letters only, there are 128 possible solutions. That's a small enough set that you can just submit them all until you get it right, and for this challenge, the accepted flag was `hitcon{megnnaro}`. (You may be able to find the flag without guessing by crafting download links, but that's not necessary for part one of this challenge.)

tok – Oct. 22, 2018, 9:05 p.m.

So it was about guessing after all.. :/