musings from the brainpan

Brainpan 3 Hacking Challenge

Brainpan 3 is finally here! If you’ve completed the previous Brainpan releases, then you’ll know what to expect. This time round, I’ve made it a tad bit more challenging so get your caffeine shots ready!

Simplifying Format String Exploitation With Libformatstr

libformatstr is a library created by hellman with the intention of simplifying format string exploitation. The GitHub repository can be found here. It’s been around since 2012 but I haven’t been able to find many tutorials on it. I have seen CTF writeups that use it though, so I decided to take the time to do a short writeup on it for my own reference.

64-bit Linux Stack Smashing Tutorial: Part 2

This is part 2 of my 64-bit Linux Stack Smashing tutorial. In part 1 we exploited a 64-bit binary using a classic stack overflow and learned that we can’t just blindly expect to overwrite RIP by spamming the buffer with bytes. We turned off ASLR, NX, and stack canaries in part 1 so we could focus on the exploitation rather than bypassing these security features. This time we’ll enable NX and look at how we can exploit the same binary using ret2libc.

64-bit Linux Stack Smashing Tutorial: Part 1

This series of tutorials is aimed as a quick introduction to exploiting buffer overflows on 64-bit Linux binaries. It’s geared primarily towards folks who are already familiar with exploiting 32-bit binaries and are wanting to apply their knowledge to exploiting 64-bit binaries. This tutorial is the result of compiling scattered notes I’ve collected over time into a cohesive whole.

Sokar Hacking Challenge

To commemorate their second birthday, VulnHub is holding another competition with the promise of prizes for those who are chosen as winners! The challenge is Sokar; a nefarious boot2root created by rasta_mouse which features a nice balance of frustration and satisfaction. For more details about the competition, head over to VulnHub’s blog post. I spent a couple of hours each evening after work to poke away at Sokar until I finally solved it. This post contains my walkthrough.

OverTheWire: Behemoth Writeup

While killing time waiting for the next CTF, a handful of us from Team VulnHub decided to have a go at OverTheWire’s Behemoth challenges. I hadn’t played Behemoth before and found it pretty fun. The game is described as:

This wargame deals with a lot of regular vulnerabilities found commonly ‘out in the wild’. While the game makes no attempts at emulating a real environment it will teach you how to exploit several of the most common coding mistakes including buffer overflows, race conditions and privilege escalation.

If you’re interested, you can find more information at

Pegasus Hacking Challenge

Happy 2015! With the holidays and merry making out of the way, it was time to resume hacking boot2roots and CTFs. To start off the new year is Pegasus, by TheKnapsy. I actually started this challenge a week before Christmas, but after getting a foothold on the target, I put it on hold to prepare for the holidays and unplug for a few days. Today I finally got around to loading it up again and finishing it off. I recommend having a go at it, so grab it from VulnHub.

The Offensive Security Playground: A Review

A couple of years ago I successfully completed the Offensive Security Pentesting with Backtrack (PWB) course, and a year after that, the Cracking the Perimeter (CTP) course. Having a huge lab made up of different machines in different subnets to break into is just a great challenge. When I completed the courses, I was a little sadenned that I’d no longer get a chance to poke at the labs. So you can imagine my excitement when I was asked if I’d like to beta test Offensive Security’s latest offering; The Playground.

Knock-Knock Hacking Challenge

For the last few weeks I had immersed myself in several CTFs with team VulnHub. It was a nice change to return to boot2roots after tackling small and difficult challenges. This time round, it’s Knock-Knock by zer0w1re. Much like other boot2roots, the goal is to get root, and find the flag. As always, head over to VulnHub to download it and have a go.

OwlNest Hacking Challenge

It seems like more and more boot2roots are being submitted to VulnHub as of late. OwlNest by Swappage is one of the more recent ones that packs a good challenge. Grab it over at VulnHub if you’re interested in giving it a go. This was debuted at ESC 2014 CTF where no one was able to solve it. It took me several days to finish off this beast after getting stuck in a tarpit, but this was a whole lot of fun.