BalCCon Katherine Ceta-Iones WriteUp

Catherine Zeta-Jones was born on September 25th, which was the starting day of the CTFs, on certain time zones.

Goals

The server code is available, but that’s all. We have to connect to the server and convince it we are worth of the flag.

Looking at the code, the target is to be identified as a BFF, so that the server gives us the FLAG:

def communicate():
    # [...]

    # We are really talking to a friend
    if(peer_publickey_encoded in best_friends):
        print("Hello BFF. Here is your flag: {}".format(FLAG))
        exit(0)
    else:
        print("Well done, friend. Now sod off.")

To reach this part of the communicate() function, we have to pass the authentication (which uses Elliptic Curve Diffie-Hellman) to prove that we possess the private key associated to the peer_publickey of a best_friend (we also have to make a ECDH Ephemeral, but that should be ok).

The ECDH authentication part:

    # Authenticate the peer with the identity keys to prevent Man-in-the-middle
    sharedkey_static = private_key.exchange(peer_publickey)

Because the pubkey of the BFF is hardcoded (best_friends = ["SgZSsPzLpfoEqnJojn+lftJekF7Q0yKYqcGSAOL2cyM="]), and there is no mean to add someone to the best friend list, we have to impersonate the BFF without her private key.

To be more precise, we have to obtain the sharedkey_static.

KCI: how it works

The initials of Katherine Zeta-Iones refers to KCI, which probably means Key Compromise Impersonation. The idea behind a KCI attack is to impersonate someone with the use of a stolen or comprised key. This last sentence seems obvious: you can impersonate anyone whose key is compromised…

The KCI attack is more subtle: when Malory talks to Katherine, and Katherine tries to authenticate Malory as her BFF, if Malory knows Katherine’s private key, they can impersonate anyone. This is because knowing Katherine’s secret makes Malory able to also make the ECDH (in our case, obtain sharedkey_static).

Now, specifically, saying that Malory can impersonate anyone means that Malory can pretend they have the private key of any public key, if they know Katherine’s private key.

Still, where are private keys?

We could target the BFF’s private key, but we don’t any clue for it. The public key is available in the code, but it is Curve25519, so we have no hope of cracking its private key.

(we also have Katherine’s public key when connecting to the server (ZIggNb0BcxBYnplA+AQNehxlUG8/x0okCfFJnoHZFFA=), but it is the same difficulty to crack it)

So we have to target Katherine’s key. It simpler than it sounds! Katherine’s authentication is all based on a pin:

def get_server_privatekey(pin: str) -> x25519.X25519PrivateKey:
    digest = hashes.Hash(hashes.SHA3_256(), backend=default_backend())
    digest.update(pin.encode())
    privatekey_bytes = digest.finalize()
    return x25519.X25519PrivateKey.from_private_bytes(privatekey_bytes)

private_key = get_server_privatekey(argv[1])

A pin is usually a small password made of numbers. A very unsecure way, but handy, to protect a private key… We can brute force pins and check if we obtained the correct public key:

def encode_publickey(key: x25519.X25519PrivateKey) -> str:
    return b64encode(key.public_key().public_bytes(encoding=serialization.Encoding.Raw, format=serialization.PublicFormat.Raw)).decode("ascii")

Let’s crack it:

def crack_server_key():
    # Note: Catherine Zeta-Jones is born on 1969/09/25
    print('Trying pins with digits and increasing length 0000 0001')
    for r in range(1,6):
        print('Testing length', r)
        for pin in product('0123456789', repeat=r):
            pin = ''.join(pin)
            if encode_publickey(get_server_privatekey(pin)) == server_puk_enc:
                print('Cracked! pin:', pin)  # 7741
                return

Now we have Katherine’s private key. Don’t tell her! Because we can now compute the sharedkey_static We can be the BFF now, but we still have to follow the protocol…

(note that Katherine always uses the same pin (probably so that we can authenticate her), so we can crack the pin offline, even though it took seconds)

Hello Katherine!

Let’s put it all together:

#!/usr/bin/python3

from base64 import b64encode, b64decode
import re
from os import urandom
from telnetlib import Telnet

from cryptography.hazmat.backends import default_backend
from cryptography.hazmat.primitives import hashes, hmac
from cryptography.hazmat.primitives.asymmetric import x25519
from cryptography.hazmat.primitives import serialization

ADDR = ('pwn.institute', 36667)

# Utilies taken from the server
def get_server_privatekey(pin: str) -> x25519.X25519PrivateKey:
    digest = hashes.Hash(hashes.SHA3_256(), backend=default_backend())
    digest.update(pin.encode())
    privatekey_bytes = digest.finalize()
    return x25519.X25519PrivateKey.from_private_bytes(privatekey_bytes)
def encode_publickey(key: x25519.X25519PrivateKey) -> str:
    return b64encode(key.public_key().public_bytes(encoding=serialization.Encoding.Raw, format=serialization.PublicFormat.Raw)).decode("ascii")

# The server public key does not seem to change. We may have to crack it offline...
server_puk_enc = 'ZIggNb0BcxBYnplA+AQNehxlUG8/x0okCfFJnoHZFFA='
# Result of the crack
server_prk = get_server_privatekey('7741')

# Best_friend_puk from script
best_friend_puk = 'SgZSsPzLpfoEqnJojn+lftJekF7Q0yKYqcGSAOL2cyM='

if __name__ == '__main__':
    with Telnet(*ADDR) as tn:
        text = tn.read_until(b'(2)? ').decode()
        server_puk_enc_recv, = re.search(r'key is (.+)\.', text).groups()
        print(text)
        assert server_puk_enc == server_puk_enc_recv, 'Static pin hypothesis wrong'
        # Start the exchange:
        tn.write(b'2\n')
        print(tn.read_until(b'key: ').decode())

        # Tell we are the BFF
        tn.write(best_friend_puk.encode()+b'\n')
        text = tn.read_until(b'yours? ').decode()
        print(text)

        # KCI is done here: we build the shared static key with server's own private key instead of BFF's, which we don't know...
        bestff_puk = x25519.X25519PublicKey.from_public_bytes(b64decode(best_friend_puk))
        shared_static = server_prk.exchange(bestff_puk)

        # Gather the ephemereal server key, generate ours, make the DH (inspired from server's code)
        servereph_puk_enc, = re.search(r'key is (.+)\.', text).groups()
        servereph_puk = x25519.X25519PublicKey.from_public_bytes(b64decode(servereph_puk_enc))
        clienteph_prk = x25519.X25519PrivateKey.from_private_bytes(urandom(32))
        tn.write(encode_publickey(clienteph_prk).encode()+b'\n')
        shared_epheme = clienteph_prk.exchange(servereph_puk)

        # Now build the shared secret as the server does it
        digest = hashes.Hash(hashes.SHA3_256(), backend=default_backend())
        digest.update(shared_static)
        digest.update(shared_epheme)
        sharedkey = digest.finalize()

        # We can peacefully do the chall/resp
        text = tn.read_until(b'response? ').decode()
        print(text)
        chall_enc, = re.search(r'challenge: (.+)', text).groups()

        # Same, just follow the server's receipt. We are her, we do the same as her!
        mac = hmac.HMAC(sharedkey, hashes.SHA3_256(), backend=default_backend())
        mac.update(b64decode(chall_enc))
        expected_response = b64encode(mac.finalize())
        tn.write(expected_response+b'\n')
        print(tn.read_all().decode())

Wrapping up

  • Connect to a server
  • Compromise its key because of ill-secured secrets
  • Impersonate someone (KCI) and pass the challenge
  • Flag.
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