Insecure example code for the 2016 collegiate eCTF
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Embedded CTF Example Code

This repository contains an example reference system for the Embedded System CTF. This example meets all the requirements outlined in the challenge writeup document, but is not implemented securely.

DoorApp code

The code for the server is contained in the "door_app" directory.


    The main DoorApp code that runs the server for accepting data, reading registered-widgets.txt file, verifying submitted PINs, adding requests to the requested-widgets.txt file, and sending responses back to the BeagleBone. It is written for Python 2.7.

  • Dockerfile

    Defines the docker image.

  • data

    This directory contains the registered-widgets.txt file. The Dockerfile specifies this directory as a volume for the docker image. By placing the text files in a volume, the data is persisted even when the docker image is stopped, rebuilt, or restarted.

  • data/registered-widgets.txt

    A configuration file that contains information for each of the registered widgets.

Widget code

The code for the BeagleBone portion is contained in the "widget" directory.


    Contains instructions for installing the widget code onto a new BeagleBone.


    The main code that runs the client application. It is written for Python 2.7.

  • keypad/keypad.ino

    The code that runs on the AVR on the CryptoCape. It must be compiled to a hex file using the Arduino tools. See for instructions.


    A script to program the AVR on the CryptoCape. Uses avrdude, which must be installed separately. See for instructions.

  • widget-client.service

    A systemd service file for the widget client. Using systemd allows us to start the client at boot, and to restart it if anything goes wrong.

Running example code

Starting the server

The DoorApp code should work on almost any system with Python2.7 and Twisted. Initially, we recommend running the code natively on your host computer.

To run the DoorApp code in its Docker container, use the instructions below:

  1. Install Docker. This can be found at

  2. Navigate to the door_app directory in terminal (or in the Docker Quickstart Terminal in Windows). In this directory there should be:

    • Dockerfile
    • data/
      • registered-widgets.txt
  3. In the door_app directory run the following commands:

    docker build -t pyserver .

    docker run -p 9500:9500 -v `pwd`/data:/src/pythonlistener/data pyserver

The first command builds the docker image and names it "pyserver" (the "." at the end is important). The second command runs pyserver and specifies the data directory as a volume, which will allow the txt data files to persist across server reboots.

Note: Providing your docker image in this way (as a Dockerfile with minimal build instructions) is acceptable and preferred over sending the built image which may be several gigabytes in size.

Starting the client

Either follow the installation procedure defined in widget/, or use the pre-made SD card image provided.

The BeagleBoard website has instructions for installing a new SD card image from a Windows machine:

If you're doing this from a Mac or Linux machine, follow these instructions:

  1. Insert a 4GB SD card into the machine.

  2. Find where it is mounted using the "dmesg" command. You should see log messages indicating where the SD card was mounted. On Linux this will be something like /dev/sdb or /dev/sdc. On the Mac it will be something like /dev/disk1 or /dev/disk2.

  3. Verify that this is REALLY the device you want to completely OVERWRITE. parted /dev/sdXXX print

  4. Unmount the card if it was mounted: Linux: umount <device> Mac: diskutil unmount <device>

  5. Copy the image file to the device. WARNING: This step will IRREVERSIBLY OVERWRITE the target device. Please verify that this is the SD card not a system drive. If you're using a mac, you should use the raw disk device, which is prefixed with an "r". So if your SD card device is /dev/disk2, use /dev/rdisk2 instead. Now execute the following command:

    dd bs=1m if=<image file> of=<device> (If the image is an img.gz it must be decompressed before running this step)

  6. From here you can start following from step 8 of the instructions on the BeagleBone web site

The provided SD card image (insecure-widget-flasher-v0.img.gz) will boot and immediately begin copying itself to the embedded flash memory on your BBB.

WARNING: Your BBB's flash will be completely overwritten when you boot from our provided SD card image!

During the copying process the four user LEDs will blink in a pattern. Once the copy is complete (after about 10-15 minutes) the BBB will shutdown. Remove the SD card and power-cycle the BBB to boot up into the new image.

Testing the Full System

To test that the full system works you need to provide a "proxy" to redirect traffic from the Widget to the Server. Socat is a good tool to do this and can be installed with Cygwin. You may also want to install netcat for viewing the debug console on the Widget. Do not forget to install both the Keypad and the Program Headers (with jumpers to enable programming the ATMega) on your CryptoCape.

  1. Plug the BeagleBone into a host computer using the USB cable.
    Verify that a new virtual ethernet adapter was created on your host computer with IP address and that you are able to ping (the BeagleBone IP).

  2. Connect netcat to the debug console of the Widget application running on the BeagleBone.

    nc 6000

  3. Run the DoorApp code.

  4. Run socat to redirect traffic from the Widget to the DoorApp.

    socat -v tcp-listen:5000,fork tcp-connect:localhost:9500

    Note: It is possible that Docker did not startup on localhost. You can view what IP Docker is using with Kitematic

  5. Send a registration request from the Widget by entering *#*#*#*# on the keypad.

  6. If the registration request is received by the server it should respond with a success message and write the registration request to the requested-widgets.txt file.

  7. Manually move the line from requested-widgets.txt to registered-widgets.txt and optionally update the 'flag' and 'pin' fields. The must be restarted for the changes to take effect.

    If using Docker you can restart the server with the following commands:

    docker ps -a (This prints all containers so you can get the container id number)

    docker restart {container_id} (This restarts the container)

  8. After restarting the server to complete the Widget registration, you should be able to unlock the door and change your PIN (either by using the current PIN or by using the master PIN).

  9. Verify that the unlock result and flags are observed on the traffic from the Widget port 6000.