Rating: 5.0

# Byte-me (50)

>if you can nc crypto.chal.csaw.io 1003

### Intro

Funny enough, this only had 100 solves by the end, even though it was a mere 50 points. While it was actually just simple ECB, there was a small added twist that made it a bit more difficult. I admit, I struggled and it took me several hours to finish, also because I didn't have a readily available ECB solving framework so I coded one from scratch. Also, since this always relies on essentially byte-wise bruteforcing, it took a while given the server was overloaded.

### What is it?

That took me a while. I first thought RSA but a look at the length of the messages and the increased length when inputting more chars led me to believe that was some stream cipher. From the discussions on Discord I sorta got that it was ECB, the best and most secure kind (LOL).

### ECB: a short overview

Basically, ECB works this way:

1. Pad the message to be a multiple of 16
2. Divide the message in blocks of 16
3. Encrypt each block separately using the key

What this means is that a) each block is independent from the other blocks, b) 2 identical blocks will have the identical corresponding cipher. Now usually, these kind of challenges allow for some user input, to which the flag is concatenated and the whole shabang is then encrypted which helps us like so:

Imagine the flag is ```flag{fakeflag}```. If we send 16*```a```, the service will encrypt ```aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaflag{fakeflag}```, which means that the first block will be only ```a``` and the flag will start from block 2. Now if we send 15*```a```, the service will encrypt ```aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaflag{fakeflag}```, thus the first block will be our ```a``` plus the first letter of the flag. Now we can remember the result of the first block and simply send ```a```*15 + ```c``` looping over printable chars. Sure enough, ```aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaf``` will ringading. Now just continue doing that by removing a padded ```a``` each time and you get the flag.

### Solving

In this case, there was an added twist namely that the service would randomly create a string of aribtrary length and preappend it to the input before appending the flag. So the string that is encrypted is:


It took me a while to wrap my head around it. What I ended up doing was to send 64 *```a``` (to give myself enough padding when going through the flag) and then continue appending '''a'''s until I got back 4 identical blocks essentially meaning I got back this:

[random (nchars) + 'a'(16-n)][16*'a'][16*'a'][16*'a'][16*'a'][flag (multiple blocks)]

Now we can simply use the technique outlined above to find the flag. I automated the entire process which took a while and the solving was slow since the connection sucked and I had to wait around 0.8s/request but in the end it worked.

[full code on github]