02
May
2012

Plaid CTF 2012 – Encryption Service

We found the source code for this robot encryption service, except the key was redacted from it. The service is currently running at 23.21.15.166:4433
Title: Encryption Service (300)
Category: Password Guessing

The service basically implements an encryption Oracle, it reads data from the socket and returns the AES-CBC encrypted version of this data, concatenated with a secret string. The challenge is to find this secret string.

Mulitple blocks can be submitted where the ciphertext of the previous block will be used as the IV for the next. The IV for the first block is randomly generated and sent to the client by the server. Data is encrypted in blocks of 16 bytes (128 bits). The output provided is the encrypted version of <input> + <level_key> + <padding>.

So how do we find the hidden challenge key… Let’s look at what happens if we supply input AAAA. In that case the input to AES looks as follows:

       block 1     |      block 2      |      block 3      |
AAAA xxxx xxxx xxxx|xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx|xppp pppp pppp pppp|

In this example the x’s represent characters from the secret key and p are padding characters. In this case there is only one unknown byte in the third block which is the last character of the key. If we store the encrypted version of this block we can simply implement a linear search by first encrypting appp pppp pppp pppp, then bppp pppp pppp pppp, then cppp pppp pppp pppp, etc. Until we get an encrypted block which is equal to the block we are searching for.

There is one slight complication here which are the IVs, which are meant to make sure that the same input doesn’t always encrypt to the same output. However the IV for the third block, which we are searching for, is simlpy the ciphertext of the previous block. So in practice the third block looks like this:

(xppp pppp pppp pppp) xor (cipher_text_second_block)

So if we submit (appp pppp pppp pppp) xor (cipher_text_second_block) xor (next_iv) where a is our guess for the last character of the key we receive the same output if a was guessed correctly.

The nice thing about this approach, is that we can keep repeating it to reveal the next character of the key, for example to find the second character of the key we use input AAAAA which will yield the following encrypted block:

       block 1     |      block 2      |      block 3      |
AAAA Axxx xxxx xxxx|xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx|xxpp pppp pppp pppp|

Since the last character of the key is known from the previous step we are again only left with a limited number of possibilities. This process can be repeated to reveal the entire key.

We implemented the attack in python:

import socket,struct,sys,string

def make(data):
        return struct.pack('I',len(data)) + data

def pad(data, blocksize=16):
    l = blocksize - (len(data) % blocksize)
    return data + chr(l) * l

def get_enc(data):
        global s
        s.send(make(data))
        l = struct.unpack("I",s.recv(4))[0]
        data = s.recv(l)
        return data

def string_xor(a,key):
        return ''.join(chr(ord(a[i]) ^ ord(key[i%len(key)])) for i in range(len(a)))

def attack(key):
        global s
        s = socket.socket(socket.AF_INET, socket.SOCK_STREAM)
        s.connect(('174.129.168.125', 4433))

        iv = s.recv(16)
        prefix = "A" * (4+len(key))
        enc = get_enc(prefix)
        third_block = enc[32:32+16]
        third_iv = enc[16:16+16]

        search = third_block
        print "Search block: %s" % search.encode('hex')

        iv = enc[-16:]

        for x in string.lowercase + '_':
                guess = string_xor(pad(x+key),third_iv)
                new = get_enc(string_xor(guess,iv))
                lb = new[:16]
                if lb == search:
                        return x
                iv = new[-16:]


key=''
for x in range(29):
        new = attack(key)
        key = new + key
        print "Found: " + key

Running this program reveals the key:

Search block: 107b4efae8d1befa1df39a0802fa6c1d
Found: s
Search block: afdfde9db5a44df21a84a089a9083f53
Found: us
Search block: eb632f01027fe10685716e9ecac582f5
Found: ous
...
Found: edictable_ivs_are_dangerous
Search block: ad04e566628430aea3628fe85de85189
Found: redictable_ivs_are_dangerous
Search block: da429ea307dae8d1c2e58895545b004f
Found: predictable_ivs_are_dangerous

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