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DARPA Challenge Binaries on Linux, OS X, and Windows

Build Status Slack Status

The DARPA Challenge Binaries (CBs) are custom-made programs specifically designed to contain vulnerabilities that represent a wide variety of crashing software flaws. They are more than simple test cases, they approximate real software with enough complexity to stress both manual and automated vulnerability discovery. The CBs come with extensive functionality tests, triggers for introduced bugs, patches, and performance monitoring tools, enabling benchmarking of patching tools and bug mitigation strategies.

The CBs were originally developed for DECREE -- a custom Linux-derived operating system that has no signals, no shared memory, no threads, no standard libc runtime, and only seven system calls -- making them incompatible with most existing analysis tools. In this repository, we have modified the CBs to work on Linux and OS X by replacing the build system and re-implementing CGC system calls via standard libc functionality and native operating system semantics. Scripts have been provided that help modify the CBs to support other operating systems.

The CBs are the best available benchmark to evaluate program analysis tools. Using them, it is possible to make comparisons such as:

  • How good are tools from the Cyber Grand Challenge vs. existing program analysis and bug finding tools?
  • When a new tool is released, how does it stack up against the current best?
  • Do static analysis tools that work with source code find more bugs than dynamic analysis tools that work with binaries?
  • Are tools written for Mac OS X better than tools written for Linux, and are they better than tools written for Windows?



This directory contains all of the source code for the challenge binaries. Challenges that are not building or are not yet supported are in the disabled-challenges directory.


This directory contains libcgc, which implements the syscalls to work on non-DECREE systems. libcgc currently works on OS X and Linux.


This folder contains Python scripts that help with modifying, building, and testing the original challenges.

This is a helper script to test all challenges using cb-test. Results are summarized and can be output to an excel spreadsheet. More details in the testing section below.


The following steps will build both the patched and unpatched binaries in build/challenges/[challenge]/.


The challenges build as i386 binaries, but Mac OS 10.14+ only supports building x86-64 binaries by default. To enable i386 support, run the following command:

sudo installer -pkg /Library/Developer/CommandLineTools/Packages/macOS_SDK_headers_for_macOS_10.14.pkg -target /

After this, proceed to the common directions for MacOS and Linux.


The following packages are required for building the challenges on Linux:

libc6-dev libc6-dev-i386 gcc-multilib g++-multilib clang cmake

MacOS/Linux Common Directions

First, install pre-requisites via pip.

sudo pip install xlsxwriter pycrypto defusedxml pyyaml matplotlib

Then to build all challenges, run:

$ ./

If you are absolutely certain that you don't intend to use any of the Python components of the build or repository, you can tell the build script to ignore them:


This is not a publicly supported build mode.

Build 64-bits version of the challenges

By default, the build system will build 32 bits version of the challenges. However, by defining BUILD64, the build system will build 64-bits version of the challenges.

$ BUILD64=1 ./

Note: This has only been tested on Linux


The following packages are required for building the challenges on Windows:

Name Version/Info
Visual Studio Build Tools included in Visual Studio
Windows SDK (for running tests) optional install with Visual Studio
CMake 3.1+
Clang 3.8+

Note: depending on where you clone the repo, you may run into build errors about the path being too long. It's best to clone the repo closer to your root directory, e.g. C:\cb-multios\

To build all challenges, run:

> powershell .\build.ps1


The utility is a wrapper around cb-test that can be used to test challenges and summarize results. The cb-test tool is a testing utility created for the DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge to verify CBs are fully functional.

cb-test has been modified to run tests locally with no networking involved. All changes include:

  • The removal of any kind of server for launching challenges
  • Skipping any checks that verify the file is a valid DECREE binary
  • Lessening sleeps and timeouts to allow tests to run at a reasonable rate


-a / --all: Run tests against all challenges
-c / --chals [CHALS ...]: Run tests against individual challenges
--povs: Only test POVs for every challenge
--polls: Only test POLLs for every challenge
-o / --output OUTPUT: Output a summary of the results to an excel spreadsheet

Example Usage

The following will run tests against all challenges in challenges and save the results to out.xlsx:

$ ./ -a -o out.xlsx

To run tests against only two challenges, do this:

$ ./ -c Palindrome basic_messaging

To test all POVs and save the results, run:

$ ./ -a --povs -o out.xlsx

Types of Tests

All tests are a series of input strings and expected output for a challenge. There are two types of tests that are used:

POV (Proof of Vulnerability): These tests are intended to exploit any vulnerabilities that exist in a challenge. They are expected to pass with the patched versions of the challenges, and in many cases cause the unpatched version to crash.

POLL: These tests are used to check that a challenge is functioning correctly, and are expected to pass with both the unpatched and patched versions of challenges.

Type 1 POV notice

Verifying type 1 POVs relies on analyzing the core dump generated when a process crashes. They can be enabled with:

$ sudo sysctl -w kern.coredump=1
$ ulimit -c unlimited

Merge tools/win_enable_dumps.reg into your registry. Note that this will disable the Windows Error Reporting dialog when a program crashes, so it's recommended that you do this in a VM if you want to keep that enabled.

Current Status

Porting the Challenge Binaries is a work in progress. Please help us out by reporting any build and/or behavior errors you discover!


We use the CMake build system to enable portability across different compilers and operating systems. CMake works across a large matrix of compiler and operating system versions, while providing a consistent interface to check for dependencies and build software projects.

We are working to make this repository easier to use for the evaluation of program analysis tools. If you have questions about the challenge binaries, please join our Slack and we'll be happy to answer them.


Porting work was completed by Kareem El-Faramawi and Loren Maggiore, with help from Artem Dinaburg, Peter Goodman, Ryan Stortz, and Jay Little. Challenges were originally created by NARF Industries, Kaprica Security, Chris Eagle, Lunge Technology, Cromulence, West Point Military Academy, Thought Networks, and Air Force Research Labs while under contract for the DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge.