Creating a Binary Exploitation Challenge

WilliamParks edited this page Oct 6, 2015 · 5 revisions

We are going to be creating a simple buffer overflow challenge. The first step is to create an empty directory, let's name it BufferOverflow1. Within this directory, we will place 3 files: our source file (vuln.c), our problem information file (problem.json), and our instance generation file (

We'll start with the source file. Copy the following source code into vuln.c and replace the definition of BUFSIZE with your desired buffer size.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <sys/types.h>

#define BUFSIZE ***

void vuln(){
  char buf[BUFSIZE];

int main(int argc, char **argv){
  // Set the gid to the effective gid
  // this prevents /bin/sh from dropping the privileges
  gid_t gid = getegid();
  setresgid(gid, gid, gid);

  return 0;

The next thing to create is the problem.json file. This will store information about the problem such as its name, category, score, and so forth. The full specification for this file can be found here.

Our problem.json will look something like:

  "name": "Buffer Overflow 1",
  "category": "Binary Exploitation",
  "description": "Exploit the buffer overflow found in {{url_for(\"vuln\")}}. Connect to it with <code>nc {{server}} {{port}}</code>.",
  "score" : 50,
  "hints": [],
  "author": Your name here,
  "organization": "Train the Trainer"

Remember to change the author field to your own name, e.g. "Fred Hacker".

Now we must create out script that specifies how to create an instance of our challenge. We must assign this specification to the variable Problem. The API provides a function for creating challenges that are simply compiled source files, shown below.

from hacksport.problem_templates import CompiledBinary
Problem = CompiledBinary(sources=["vuln.c"], remote=True)

It's worth noting the following points:

  • The default flag file when using CompiledBinary is flag.txt. This is automatically created with the proper permissions.
  • The default compilation options allow an executable stack and disable stack canaries. These flags can be set using optional arguments.
  • The name of the compiled binary defaults to the source file name with the extension removed. Thus, our binary will be named vuln, which is what we specified in our problem.json.

Now that we have all of the files we need, we can try to generate a test instance. From the directory above BufferOverflow1, run sudo shell_manager deploy -d BufferOverflow1.

If there are no errors, this command should output a directory storing the deployed files. Running sudo ls -l on the deployment directory should yield the following:

-r--r----- 1 hacksports 1230   32 Jul 20 20:09 flag.txt
-rwxr-sr-x 1 hacksports 1230 7388 Jul 20 20:09 vuln

As expected, we have a vulnerable binary named vuln that has the setgid bit on. Thus, when exploited, it will be able to read the flag file.

After confirming that the challenge deploys correctly, we can package it using sudo shell_manager package BufferOverflow1. This should create a .deb file in your current directory that can be distributed and installed with sudo dpkg -i train-the-trainer-buffer-overflow-1-1.0-0.deb.

Continue to the next example problem [here](Cryptography Challenge and Intermediate Usage).

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